Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Actress Marlee Matlin becomes official NAD spokesperson for accessible broadband services, Internet media

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) press release:

Academy Award winning actress and author Marlee Matlin (pictured), a member of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), is taking on a new role as an NAD spokesperson for accessible broadband services and Internet media.

Matlin will take part in a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) hearing addressing the needs of people with disabilities in the development of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan, which will be submitted to Congress in February 2010.

The hearing, along with innovative technology exhibitions, will be presided over by Commissioner Michael Copps at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m., on November 6, 2009. The public is encouraged to attend the event and to share their ideas and comments with the Commission. More information about the hearing is available at

"Not only is Marlee a phenomenal actress, she understands our experience," said NAD President Bobbie Beth Scoggins. "The nationwide adoption of broadband and Internet services can only be achieved when those services are available, affordable, and accessible to every American, including Americans who are deaf and hard of hearing. The disability community must not be left behind as our nation’s communication, information, and entertainment services migrate to the Internet."

While in Washington, Matlin will also visit key legislators on Capitol Hill with NAD representatives and other members of the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT). Matlin’s meetings will spotlight on the need to enact the “Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009” (H.R. 3101) introduced by Representative Edward J. Markey (MA).

An outspoken advocate for captioning Internet media, Matlin first testified before Congress in 1990, successfully paving the way for a law requiring most television sets to be capable of displaying closed captions. Presently, Matlin is leading social media advocacy efforts to urge online video content providers, such as Netflix and Blockbuster, to caption their media. Her efforts have captured both providers’ attention in making their online content accessible to 36 million deaf and hard of hearing Americans.

"Internet captioning is very important to me as a deaf person because captions provide access to content that affects my life and my livelihood," said Matlin. "Legislators need to know that captions are necessary to follow the latest news, information, and entertainment available on the Internet. I join millions of other deaf and hard of hearing Americans advocating for Internet access."

Matlin is an acclaimed actress who gained worldwide fame with her role in the film "Children of a Lesser God." Her performance was recognized by the film community with an Academy Award, making Matlin the youngest recipient of the Oscar for Best Actress at age 21. She has also starred in many popular television programs and series, such as “West Wing” and “Dancing with the Stars.” Her autobiography, "I'll Scream Later," published by Simon Spotlight, is available in bookstores nationwide.

The NAD thanks Purple Communications for sponsoring Matlin’s visit to Washington.