Enacts the accessible electronic information act for blind and disabled persons; creates a new fund in the state finance law.
TITLE OF BILL:
An act to amend the public service law and the state finance law, in relation to enacting the accessible electronic information act
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:
Thousands of New Yorkers have disabilities (including blindness or visual impairment) that prevent them from using conventional print material.
Low cost interstate telecommunication rates make distribution of electronic text-based information to blind or visually impaired New Yorkers both efficient and cost effective for the state. Use of this accessible electronic information service will improve the state's current efforts to meet the needs of blind and disabled citizens for access to information that is otherwise available in print, thereby reducing isolation and supporting full integration and equal access for such individuals.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:
Section 2 of this legislation is the definitions section. The accessible electronic information service, which is defined in the legislation, shall be provided by a qualified and registered not-for-profit organization. The service shall be intended for continuation from year to year and make maximum use of federal and other kinds available by obtaining grant or in-kind support from appropriate programs, and by securing access to low-cost interstate rates for telecommunications by reimbursement or otherwise.
The legislation defines "Accessible electronic information service" as news and other timely information provided to eligible individuals via a service using high-speed computers and telecommunication technology for interstate acquisition and rapid distribution of content in a form suitable for use by such eligible individuals.
"Blind and disabled persons" means those individuals who are qualified for library loan services through the Library of Congress and the State Library for the Blind and physically Handicapped.
Section 3 of this legislation creates a new fund under the supervision of the state comptroller known as the "accessible electronic information service fund". Such fund may consist of money transferred thereto from the Targeted Accessibility Fund (TAF), and shall also consist of such grants, gifts or donations which may be deposited to the fund for the support of the service.
Thousands of citizens in New York have disabilities (including blindness or visual impairment) that prevent them from using conventional print material.
The state fulfills an important duty by providing books and magazines prepared in Braille, audio, and large-type formats made available to eligible blind and disabled persons. The technology, transcription methods, and means of distribution used for these materials are labor intensive and cannot support rapid dissemination to individuals in rural and urban areas throughout the state.
Lack of direct and prompt access to information included in newspapers, magazines, newsletters, schedules, announcements, and other time-sensitive materials, limits educational opportunities, and full participation in society by blind and disabled persons. This constraint can best be overcome through use of high-speed computer and telecommunication technology, combined with customized software, providing a practical and cost-effective means to convert electronic text-based information into synthetic speech suitable for statewide distribution with modem telecommunication technology.
Use of this accessible electronic information service will improve the state's current efforts to meet the needs of blind and disabled citizens for access to information which is otherwise available in print, thereby reducing isolation and supporting full integration and equal access for such individuals.
LEGISLATION IN OTHER STATES:
Several other states have introduced and/or enacted legislation concerning accessibility to electronic information. The states introducing and/or enacting such legislation include:
Florida - Introduced in 2006 Illinois - Enacted July 22, 2004 Kentucky- Introduced in 2000
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
2009-10: S.2615A/A.2467 - Finance/Rules 2008-09: S.5960 Energy and Telecommunications; A.3108A Ways and Means 2006-07: A.10172 Corporations, Authorities & Commissions 2005-06: A.1757A Corporations, Authorities & Commissions 2004-05: A.6464 Corporations, Authorities & Commissions
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: Minimal.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect on the ninetieth day after it shall have become a law, with provisions.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 1053 2011-2012 Regular Sessions IN SENATE (PREFILED) January 5, 2011 ___________Introduced by Sens. PARKER, DILAN, KLEIN, KRUEGER, MAZIARZ, MONTGOMERY -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Energy and Telecommunications AN ACT to amend the public service law and the state finance law, in relation to enacting the accessible electronic information act THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Short title. This act shall be known and may be cited as the "accessible electronic information act". S 2. The public service law is amended by adding a new section 92-g to read as follows: S 92-G. ACCESSIBLE ELECTRONIC INFORMATION; BLIND AND DISABLED PERSONS. 1. A QUALIFIED NOT-FOR-PROFIT ENTITY CAPABLE OF PROVIDING SUCH SERVICE SHALL PROVIDE AN ACCESSIBLE ELECTRONIC INFORMATION SERVICE FOR ELIGIBLE BLIND AND DISABLED PERSONS. THIS SERVICE SHALL BE PLANNED FOR CONTINUA- TION FROM YEAR TO YEAR AND MAKE MAXIMUM USE OF FEDERAL AND OTHER FUNDS AVAILABLE BY OBTAINING GRANT OR IN-KIND SUPPORT FROM APPROPRIATE PROGRAMS AND SECURING ACCESS TO LOW-COST INTERSTATE RATES FOR TELECOMMU- NICATIONS BY REIMBURSEMENT OR OTHERWISE. 2. AS USED IN THIS SECTION, THE FOLLOWING TERMS SHALL HAVE THE FOLLOW- ING MEANINGS, UNLESS OTHERWISE INDICATED: (A) "ACCESSIBLE ELECTRONIC INFORMATION SERVICE" MEANS NEWS AND OTHER TIMELY INFORMATION (INCLUDING NEWSPAPERS) PROVIDED TO ELIGIBLE INDIVID- UALS FROM A MULTI-STATE SERVICE CENTER, USING HIGH-SPEED COMPUTERS AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY FOR INTERSTATE ACQUISITION OF CONTENT AND RAPID DISTRIBUTION IN A FORM APPROPRIATE FOR USE BY SUCH INDIVIDUALS; (B) "BLIND AND DISABLED PERSONS" MEANS THOSE INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE ELIGIBLE FOR LIBRARY LOAN SERVICES THROUGH THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS AND THE STATE LIBRARY FOR THE BLIND AND PHYSICALLY HANDICAPPED PURSUANT TO 36 CFR 701.10(B);EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD02123-01-1 S. 1053 2
(C) "DIRECTOR" MEANS THE DIRECTOR OF THE SELECTED NOT-FOR-PROFIT ENTI- TY; (D) "QUALIFIED ENTITY" MEANS A NOT-FOR-PROFIT ENTITY WITHIN THIS STATE CAPABLE OF PROVIDING ACCESSIBLE ELECTRONIC INFORMATION SERVICES WHICH: (I) PROVIDES INTERSTATE ACCESS FOR ELIGIBLE PERSONS TO READ DAILY NEWSPAPERS PRODUCING AUDIO EDITIONS BY COMPUTER, AND (II) PROVIDES A MEANS OF PROGRAM ADMINISTRATION AND READER REGISTRA- TION ON THE INTERNET. S 3. The state finance law is amended by adding a new section 99-t to read as follows: S 99-T. ACCESSIBLE ELECTRONIC INFORMATION SERVICE FUND. 1. THERE IS HEREBY ESTABLISHED IN THE CUSTODY OF THE STATE COMPTROLLER A SPECIAL REVENUE FUND TO BE KNOWN AS THE "ACCESSIBLE ELECTRONIC INFORMATION SERVICE FUND". 2. NOTHING CONTAINED IN THIS SECTION SHALL PREVENT THE STATE FROM RECEIVING GRANTS, GIFTS OR BEQUESTS AND DEPOSITING THEM INTO THE ACCES- SIBLE ELECTRONIC INFORMATION SERVICE FUND ACCORDING TO LAW. 3. THE ACCESSIBLE ELECTRONIC INFORMATION SERVICE FUND SHALL BE ADMIN- ISTERED BY THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION, IN CONSULTATION WITH THE DIRECTOR, IN ACCORDANCE WITH THIS SECTION. 4. THE TARGETED ACCESSIBILITY FUND, INC., ESTABLISHED BY THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION IN ITS "ORDER AND OPINION 98-10", MAY ALLOCATE FUNDS FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROVIDING ELECTRONIC DISTRIBUTION OF NEWSPAPERS, PERIODICALS, TIME SENSITIVE MATERIALS, AND OTHER INFORMATION WHICH MAY BE OF BENEFIT TO THE COMMUNITY. S 4. This act shall take effect on the ninetieth day after it shall have become a law; provided, however, that effective immediately, the addition, amendment and/or repeal of any rule or regulation necessary for the implementation of this act on its effective date is authorized and directed to be made and completed on or before such effective date.