(Newton) Congressman Edward J. Markey, of the 7th District of Massachusetts was recognized at a ceremony at the Carroll Center for the Blind, for spearheading the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. This landmark legislation makes it possible for persons with a disability to have full access to print, to television, the Internet and to all forms of electronic communication and is one of the most significant victories for the disability community since the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed almost 20 years ago.
For his long and successful legislative efforts, Congressman Markey was presented with the first “Pathway to Independence” Award by Carroll Center President Michael Festa, who commented on the Congressman’s leadership in Congress that made accessibility to all electronic communications a reality for persons who are blind through the passage of this legislation.
A standing room only crowd was on hand to witness the award presentation and the program, which included a panel discussion by blind consumers describing their use of accessible technology in their personal and professional lives. Nancy Jodoin, one of the panelists and a Carroll Center graduate, spoke of the importance of accessible technology in helping her to get back into the nursing profession. She also cited an example of the importance of accessibility in her personal life, when a recent emergency ban on water was announced by a visual scroll on TV that she was unable to read and therefore drank the polluted water unknowingly. Now with equal access to such information through this legislation, potentially dangerous situations will be avoidable through accessible technology.
Brian Charlson, Director of Technology Services at the Carroll Center, demonstrated examples of adaptive telephones and adaptive computer software that have significantly improved the lives of blind persons and that were not available when he was a student. Charlson heads up technology training programs that teach blind persons how to use emerging technologies in their personal and professional lives. A short video was also shown profiling three successfully employed blind persons using accessible technology in the work place. You can watch this video on our web site.
“With this legislation, Congressman Markey has created a communications pathway for blind persons to live more independently and to have greater access to employment making Congressman Markey most deserving of the first Pathway to Independence Award”, said Festa. Congressman Markey was visibly moved by the appreciation of his efforts and as he toured the Carroll Center, he commented that this has inspired him to work even harder for the blind community in the year ahead.