H.R. 3101 requires, with few exceptions, any T.V., cable or satellite program that airs with closed-captions to be also captioned on the Web. It encompasses websites like Hulu.com (owned by NBC) and ABC.com. Captions must be displayed on all devices that show television programs, regardless of size, which includes smart phones like the iPhone.
Unfortunately, H.R. 3101, which is also known as also known as the 21st Century Telecommunications and Video Accessibility Act, has been watered down from its original version. No longer will web-exclusive programming be required to have captions. Exempt from the bill are new networks like TheWB.com and Crackle.com, which create entertainment for mobile devices and smart phones.
Movie lovers are out of luck, too. H.R. 3101 does not cover services like Netflix that offer on-demand streaming movies and T.V. programs, such as Lost and The Sopranos, over the Internet. “Netflix is out of jurisdiction [for this bill],” says Rosaline Crawford, a director at the National Association for the Deaf. NAD, an advocacy group, is part of the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology, which is pushing for H.R. 3101 and other captioning initiatives.