07/15/2013 03:25 pm ET Updated Sep 14, 2013

U-verse a Disconnect for the Disabled

Today's Communications Daily reports that CAN TV is urging the FCC to adopt rules that assure the disability community can access local community television.

"The FCC should adopt user accessibility rules to compel AT&T's U-verse system to carry listings for public, educational and governmental (PEG) channels in order to make it easier for the disabled to find 'helpful local programming,' said the Chicago Access Corp. in an ex parte filing Wednesday. Under the name CAN TV, Chicago Access operates five noncommercial public access PEG channels that feature content for people with visual, auditory and other disabilities." (Communications Daily, 7/12/13.)

In its filing to the FCC, CAN TV notes that AT&T carries no listings for CAN TV programs on its electronic or print guides, so it is impossible for anyone from the disability community to make informed local choices. The only identification of a multitude of different channels is a generic listing for "Local Government, Education and Public Access" on U-verse Channel 99.

ADAPT of Chicago Productions (ADAPT) is a bi-weekly television series created by members of the disability community who have been educating the public about disability rights through CAN TV for 14 years. In order to reach the broadest audience, ADAPT productions are closed-captioned for the hearing impaired.

"Our whole purpose is to communicate about accessibility issues," said Gloria Nichols, an ADAPT member. "But what good is it if people we're trying to reach can't find our program on CAN TV?"

CAN TV concludes its filing by urging the FCC to prevent discrimination against the disability community as evidenced by AT&T's U-verse product. The difficulties in finding PEG channels and programs on U-verse are demonstrated at