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NCRA Urges U.S. Reps. Danny Davis and Judy Biggert to Approve in Conference the Higher Education Reauthorization Bill Providing Closed Captioning for 30 Million Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Americans
Date:4/21/2008

House and Senate Conferees Set to Take Up Bill Which 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 (NCRA) today urged U.S. Reps. Judy Biggert, R-Ill.-13, and Danny K. Davis, D-Ill.-07, both members of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education, Lifelong Learning and Competitiveness, to lend their 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.

Included in this bill is language to create 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 on Capitol Hill and now, said NCRA Executive Director and CEO Mark J. Golden, CAE, "NCRA is working diligently with Representatives Davis and Biggert 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." It's important to note that 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 of the bill 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. Unfortunately, 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 985,000 in Illinois alone, closed captions are critically important to their livelihoods and safety.

NCRA's 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. Its main Web site is at http://www.ncraonline.org.


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SOURCE National Court Reporters Association
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