This bill has been amended

Bill S708-2013

Enacts the accessible electronic information act for blind and disabled persons; creates a new fund in the state finance law; authorizes a NFP to administer the program

Enacts the accessible electronic information act for blind and disabled persons; creates a new fund in the state finance law.

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  • Jan 8, 2014: REFERRED TO ENERGY AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS
  • Jan 9, 2013: REFERRED TO ENERGY AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS

Memo

BILL NUMBER:S708

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.

The National Federation of the Blind established the NFB-NEWSLINE to increase the ability of visually impaired individuals to receive information provided by newspapers, magazines journals and other print media which are traditionally unavailable in a limited electronic broadcast. Since 2002, this vital service has provided visually impaired New Yorkers with information on job listings, self-help magazines, do-it-yourself guides, political magazines, several newspapers, TV guide listings, and other literary necessities that all sighted New Yorkers have enjoyed.

The intent of this legislation is provide a stable funding Source for NEWSLINE New York.

SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: Section 1: Short title - The Accessible Electronic Information Act

Section 2: Sets for the legislative findings.

Section 3: Amends the public service law by adding a new section 92-g states that the 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, state, private, and other funding 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.

This section also sets forth the definition of all major terms used in this act.

Section 4: amends the state finance law by added a new section 99-u to establish a special revenue fund to administer the Accessible Electronic Information Act.

Section 5: This act shall take effect on the ninetieth day after it shall become law; provided, however that effective immediately, the addition, amendment and/or repeal of any rule of regulation necessary for the implementation of this act on its effective date is authorized and directed to made and completed on or before such effective date.

JUSTIFICATION: 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 p:repared 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.

Providing stabilized funding is absolutely imperative to ensuring that this service can operate at maximum potential.

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:

Texas, California, Alabama, New Mexico, Georgia, Hawaii, South Carolina, Maryland, Kentucky, Oregon, Wisconsin, Vermont, Iowa, and Michigan.

PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2011-12: S.6392/A.9233 - Died in Energy & Telecomm 2010-11: S.1053/A.4161 - Passed Both Houses. Veto Message No.58 2009-10: S.2615A/A.2467- Finance/Rules 2008-09: S.5960 Energy and Telecommunications; A.3108A Ways & 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.


Text

STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 708 2013-2014 Regular Sessions IN SENATE (PREFILED) January 9, 2013 ___________
Introduced by Sen. PARKER -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Energy and Telecommuni- cations 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. Legislative finding. The National Federation of the Blind estab- lished the NFB-NEWSLINE to increase the ability of visually impaired individuals to receive information provided by newspapers, magazines, journals and other print media which are traditionally unavailable in a limited electronic broadcast. Since 2002, this vital service has provided visually impaired New Yorkers with information on job listings, self-help magazines, do-it-yourself guides, political magazines, several newspapers, TV guide listings, and other literary necessities that all sighted New Yorkers have enjoyed. This legislation provides a stable means to bring NEWSLINE to New York. S 3. 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, STATE, PRIVATE AND OTHER FUNDS AVAILABLE, INCLUDING OBTAINING GRANT OR IN-KIND SUPPORT FROM APPROPRIATE PROGRAMS AND SECURING ACCESS TO LOW-COST INTERSTATE RATES FOR TELECOMMUNICATIONS 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); (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 4. The state finance law is amended by adding a new section 99-u to read as follows: S 99-U. 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. FUNDING FOR THE ACCESSIBLE ELECTRONIC INFORMATION SERVICE FUND SHALL BE OBTAINED FROM: A. THE TARGETED ACCESSIBILITY FUND, INC., ESTABLISHED BY THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION IN ITS "ORDER AND OPINION 98-10" IN AN AMOUNT DEEMED APPROPRIATE FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROVIDING ELECTRONIC DISTRIBUTION OF NEWSPAPERS, PERIODICALS, TIME SENSITIVE MATERIALS, AND OTHER INFORMATION WHICH MAY BE OF BENEFIT TO THE COMMUNITY; AND B. THE NEW YORK STATE COMMISSION FOR THE BLIND IN AN AMOUNT DEEMED APPROPRIATE BY THE COMMISSIONER FOR PROVIDING ELECTRONIC DISTRIBUTION OF NEWSPAPERS, PERIODICALS, TIME SENSITIVE MATERIALS, AND OTHER INFORMATION WHICH MAY BE OF BENEFIT TO THE COMMUNITY. 3. 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. 4. THE ACCESSIBLE ELECTRONIC INFORMATION SERVICE FUND SHALL BE ADMIN- ISTERED BY THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION, IN CONSULTATION WITH THE DIRECTOR AND THE COMMISSIONER, IN ACCORDANCE WITH THIS SECTION. 5. THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION SHALL REQUIRE COMPANIES WHO PROVIDE TELECOMMUNICATION SERVICES TO BLIND AND DISABLED PERSONS, AS DEFINED IN PARAGRAPH (B) OF SUBDIVISION TWO OF SECTION NINETY-TWO-G OF THE PUBLIC SERVICE LAW, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO, CERTIFIED TELECOMMUNICATION CARRIERS, CABLE TELEVISION COMPANIES THAT OFFER TELEPHONE SERVICE, AND OTHER COMPANIES THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION DEEMS TO BE A PROVIDER OF TELECOMMUNICATION SERVICES, TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE TARGETED ACCESSIBILITY FUND, INC. FOR THE PURPOSE OF INCREASING FUNDING TO COMPLY WITH PARA- GRAPH (A) OF SUBDIVISION TWO OF THIS SECTION. S 5. 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.

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