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STATEMENT OF THE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA'S PUBLIC TELEVISION STATIONS
Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee. Thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony to this distinguished committee on behalf of the appropriation request for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for Fiscal Year 1994.
It is now universally recognized that education in America must be improved if we are to be a happy and prosperous nation, able to compete in the new global economy. America's 342 public television stations have long been committed to providing quality educational programming to schools, homes and the workplace.
Mr. Chairman, we can help meet the challenge. America's public television stations can harness the power of telecommunications to reach this nation's underserved populations with formal and informal educational programming and services that will provide a better quality of lifeespecially for the disadvantaged.
After a year-long study involving community and professional leadership, public television has drawn up a five-point strategy, which addresses some of America's greatest educational and social concerns. We are requesting additional funding for public broadcasting in FY 1994 so that we can begin to implement this strategy, which will:
1. Expand community partnerships; use programming to stimulate community action on
3. Develop new services for preschoolers which impart positive family and social values.
5. Develop programming and expand outreach initiatives to increase citizen
Federal support for this initiative is essential. Public television's current funding levels from federal and community sources are already fully committed toward fulfilling existing mandates. We request this subcommittee to appropriate $355 million to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in FY 1994.
The federal government's appropriation to CPB and other federal grants and contracts account for 16 percent of public television's total revenue; and this 16 percent is the keystone of public television's diverse sources of income. The federal dollar not only indicates congressional and national support for public television, but also acts as a magnet drawing approximately six nonfederal dollars into the public system for every federal dollar appropriated to CPB. The federal contribution is an essential catalyst for this exemplary public-private partnership.
Public television's commitment to preschool children has been at the core of its service for more than 20 years. A whole generation of children has grown up watching Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, first broadcast in 1967, and Sesame Street, first seen in 1969. More recently, abandoned by the commercial network he had served for more than a decade, Captain Kangaroo has found a new home on public television—where he can continue to bring his inspirational messages to young
Local stations today are looking at ways to provide programming directly to childcare center. We want to help prepare children workers and to help answer parents' questions about their children's growth and development.
Seventy-two percent of public television licensees broadcast instructional video programming specifically for use in elementary and secondary school classrooms; others distribute programs for recording by teachers or by prerecorded cassettes. During the 1989-90 school year, public television reached more than 29 million students in 69,000 schools.
Many Americans working toward college degrees cannot get to campus on a regular basis; more than 30 percent of enrollees are older than 24 years. Students enrolled in the PBS Adult Learning Service program can earn credit for courses at more than 1,800 colleges and universities. Currently, about 265,000 students are enrolled in these courses-which makes for a very large college. In addition, of the 3,000 colleges and universities nationwide, 2,500 use Annenberg/CPB project course material.
In addition to the CPB appropriation, we urge this committee to fund the Department of Education's Star Schools program at $50 million in 1992, as proposed in Senate bills S. 2, recently reported by the Committee on Labor & Human Resources, and S. 890, introduced by Senator Kennedy and seven cosponsors on April 23. Public television's Satellite Educational Resources Consortium (SERC), a beneficiary of Star Schools funding, is a model for the new generation of instructional television that lets students interact with instructors thousands of miles away.
Public television stations also request funding of $1 million for the Descriptive Video Services Prograin (DVS), a project from the WGBH Education Foundation in Boston, which makes television programs accessible for the blind and visually impaired. Using the same technology that makes DVS possible, public TV is pioneering in the simultaneous broadcasting of second language soundtracks.
Finally, we request continued support for closed captioning of television programs through the Department of Education. In addition to allowing hearing impaired people to enjoy the full benefit of television, closed captions also assist students learning English as a second language and prove valuable to learning-disabled students.
Public television's mandate is to offer high-quality educational and information programs for 16 hours or more every day. It accomplishes this on roughly $1.2 billion a year for the whole system, including all program production and the operation of more than 340 local stations. At $355 million, the federal appropriation for the entire public broadcasting industry, which includes public radio, amounts to slightly more than what CBS Sports paid to televise major league baseball last year.
At a time of budget deficits, the government must invest its funds in programs that have proven themselves to yield a strong return on the taxpayer dollar. Public television has not only met the but it has been leading the way in creating local community partnerships that are making a real difference in people's lives.
Mr. Chairman, during the last 20 years both government and private sources have made an enormous investment in the educational and development potential of public television. The return has been remarkable. With the continued support of this committee, public television stations are prepared to provide additional critical services to the nation throughout this decade. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF LAURIE A. EVERETT
Mr. Chairman, the nation's 12 million visually impaired persons are being served by a new and exciting service that allows them to more fully enjoy television programs. Descriptive Video Service makes television accessible by using consumer-based technology (stereo television) to bring narrated descriptions of a television program's key visual elements directly into the home of a visually impaired viewer.
The Education of the Handicapped Act authorizes video description services. At a funding level of $1 million per year, WGBH can provide a meaningful service of 8-10 hours of programming per week, and carry out the necessary outreach activities that are included in providing this unique service. We can also develop distribution methods for home video and cable, can expand to other types of programs and leverage private sector support.
Therefore, WGBH requests that the Subcommittee fund descriptive video for
The Department of Education has just released a request for proposal that will make funds available to increase the availability of described materials. Blind persons across the country applaud this event and look forward to more programs being described, on public television, home video and cable.
The passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act sends a clear message from Congress and the President that people with disabilities should have access to the same things that non-disabled people do. We agree, and congratulate you on your efforts to pass this landmark legislation. DVS is the type of service that is wholly consistent with the spirit of the ADA. Access is a very critical issue for persons with disabilities. However, we are finding that DVS does more than make television accessible. With more than 150 programs produced in the past year and demonstrations to blind people all over the country, we are learning some very compelling things. We are not only providing access but we are adding to the general education, cultural literacy and socialization skills of visually impaired people.
A teacher of blind students in Boston recently wrote: "It is not our visual impairment that makes my students and me 'handicapped.' It is our isolation from our fellow human beings. This isolation is caused primarily by limited access to information. Descriptive Video Service plays an important part in giving blind and visually impaired persons access to the non-spoken information brought in to millions of homes around the world by the modern miracle of television."
Visually impaired teenagers tell us that by watching "Degrassi High" with DVS that they know more about fads, clothing styles and gestures, and feel more comfortable about "fitting in" with their sighted peers. Imagine a blind teenager telling you that he didn't know what a "high five" was, or that until watching "Degrassi" with DVS that he didn't know that teenagers take their blue jeans and make "cut-offs" out of them. Once we demonstrated an episode of "Degrassi” that dealt with an overweight boy who got up the courage to ask the most popular girl in the class for a date. She turned him down. One of the visually impaired teenagers told us that he felt more confident about asking someone out for a date, and that if this character could handle the rejection, so could
DVS has also expanded its reach. The first time we testified before this Subcommittee in 1988, DVS had just been tested on ten public televisions stations. In 1990 when the service was launched on PBS, there were 32 stations carrying the service. A year later, that number is now at to 52 stations, reaching 47% of U.S. households. DVS is now available to viewers in Nebraska, Maryland and Seattle, Washington. As we reach more people the demand for more service is growing.
One viewer expressed her wish for more programming by writing: "I'm sure I speak for most blind people when I say that I would love for descriptions of television programs and movies to become as automatic as the visual screen.'
In its short history, DVS has done much to improve the lives of visually impaired people and has been recognized with two awards from blindness organizations in its first year on the air. The Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts honored DVS through the Perkins Project with Industry Special Recognition Award, for "offer(ing) depth and dimension heretofore unavailable in this highly visual medium." The American Council of the Blind, one of the two major membership organizations for blind persons, presented its Vernon Henley Memorial Award to Descriptive Video Service. The award was given for "outstanding creativity and innovation
leading to the availability of DVS throughout the United States." Public television was also honored by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences with an Emmy for using a new broadcast technology to make television accessible to a new audience.
We also understand, in this our second year of providing description, that DVS is a valuable service to the nation's aging population. A short article about DVS in the November issue of Modern Maturity, the magazine of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) resulted in more than 4,000 calls and letters requesting information about DVS. Many people were calling for a friend or relative who was losing their sight and could no longer enjoy television programs. Many said that DVS was like a dream come true, and it can bring back something that they had lost.
After first seeing a program with DVS, a woman in New York wrote: "The descriptions reminded me of the time I went to the movies with my sighted friends as a child. Now, most of the drama I enjoy is on television. While I can see that something is on the screen, if it weren't for DVS, I could only use my imagination to fill in the silence. With this splendid descriptive narration, I feel as if I am "seeing" the picture myself."
We appreciate the Subcommittee's recognition of this new and developing service that has been nurtured on public television and urge your continued support. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF THE EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE PROFESSIONALS ASSOCIATION, INC.
Thank you for providing the opportunity to submit testimony on appropriations for programs within the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services. The following testimony is submitted by the Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA) which represents employee assistance practitioners from labor, management and independent service providers throughout North America. EAPA has seventy-nine (79) chapters throughout the country and over 6,800 members, making it the largest EAP association.
The central mission of an EAP is to prevent problems associated with alcohol and drug use among employees and their families by assisting labor and management in the identification and resolution of productivity problems associated with employees who have drug and alcohol and other personal concerns. The federal government can play a critical role in promoting the development of EAPs by working through the agencies that focus on labor and public health issues.
EAPA is particularly interested in bolstering programs within the federal government that will promote employee assistance programming in the small business community. While small businesses constitute the overwhelming number of employers, only a small fraction provide employee assistance services to their employees and the families of employees. This results from (1) a lack of information about the scope of drug and alcohol problems in the workplace, (2) denial that such problems exist and (3) limited marketing of affordable EAP services to small businesses.
We urge the Appropriations Subcommittee to address theses problems by providing funding to the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Office for Substance Abuse Prevention (OSAP) for the following programs:
EAP consortia - entities that provide EAP services to two or more businesses are the most effective and economical way to reach employees within small businesses. We urge the Subcommittee to provide $2 million to DOL to conduct a demonstration grant program that will