5 – CVAA

21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 

On October 8, 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA). CVAA updates the Communications Act and establishes new safeguards for disability access to ensure that people with disabilities are not left behind as technology changes and the United States migrates to the next generation of Internet-based and digital communication technologies.

There are two sections that stand out for most people with hearing loss: the section requiring telephones that are used with the Internet to be hearing aid-compatible; and the section that ensures that people with disabilities will have access to commercial video programming presented on the Internet. Under the new law, once a television program is published or exhibited on television with closed captions, any subsequent distribution of that programming on the Internet must include closed captions.

When Does the New Law Take Effect?

Different sections of CVAA take effect at different times. The law also provides for an Advisory Committee, which was established April 2011. A report of the committee’s recommendations and findings on closed captioning was due October 2011. The FCC was then directed to revise its regulations and adopt a phase-in schedule no later than six months after the Advisory Committee submits the closed captioning report.


  1. Advisory committee established: 4/8/2011
  2. Advisory committee report due: 10/8/2011
  3. Begin phase-in of closed captioning for the Internet: 4/8/2012
  4. Equipment phase-in (devices smaller than 13” to display captions, closed captioning buttons on remote control devices, video description decoding) between 4/2012 and 10/2012
Hearing Loss Association of America blog


Federal Communications Commission
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20554