NCRA Urges Congressman Tom Petri to Approve in Conference the Higher Education Reauthorization Bill Providing Closed Captioning for 30 Million Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Americans

House and Senate Conferees to Take Up Bill That Includes Grants to Train Realtime Captioners Who Meet the Communication Access Needs of People with Hearing Loss


VIENNA, Va., April 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The National Court Reporters Association today urged U.S. Rep. Thomas E. Petri, R-Wis., a member of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education, Lifelong Learning and Competitiveness, to lend his support in conference and vote to approve the College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007 (H.R. 4137, S. 1642), better known as the Higher Education Reauthorization bill.


The bill includes language creating a grant program to train realtime writers to provide captioned information and communication access for the 30 million Americans who are deaf and hard-of-hearing. Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis., and Rep. Robert Andrews, D-N.J., championed passage of the House language. Now, said NCRA Executive Director and CEO Mark J. Golden, “NCRA is working diligently with Congressman Petri in conference toward ensuring that the correct language is included in the final conference bill that is presented this year to President Bush for his signature and approval.” In the last two Congressional sessions, this language has passed the Senate unanimously thanks to the unwavering support of Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa.


The House-passed portion meets the mandates of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which set a 2006 deadline by which all new broadcasts in English were to be captioned. That deadline has come and gone, and the requisite hours of captioning are not being met. With 30 million deaf and hard-of-hearing Americans nationally, and more than 234,000 in Wisconsin alone, closed captions are critically important to their livelihoods and safety.


Golden said, “If the House and Senate conferees approve this language, it will demonstrate that Congress truly believes that people with hearing loss deserve full and effective communication access which can only be provided by qualified stenographic realtime writers. The bill’s funding will go a long way in helping to bring more realtime writers into the workforce and meet the growing demand for this necessary service.”


The National Court Reporters Association, a 23,000-member nonprofit organization, represents the judicial reporting and captioning professions. Web site: www.ncraonline.org.


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Source: National Court Reporters Association


CONTACT: Pete Wacht of the National Court Reporters Association,
+1-703-556-6272, +1-571-228-7346 (cell),
[email protected]


Web Site: http://www.ncraonline.org/