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Training for Realtime Writers Act of 2003

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


TRAINING FOR REALTIME WRITERS ACT OF 2003

Mr. CRAIG. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to the immediate consideration of Calendar No. 790, S. 480.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report the bill by title.

The legislative clerk read as follows:

A bill (S. 480) to provide competitive grants for training court reporters and closed captioners to meet requirements of realtime
writers under the Telecommunications Act of 1996, and for other purposes.

There being no objection, the Senate proceeded to consider the bill.

Mr. CRAIG. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the bill be read a third time, passed, the motion to reconsider be laid
upon the table, with no intervening action or debate, and that any statement relating to the bill be printed in the RECORD.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

The bill (S. 480) was read the third time and passed, as follows:

S. 480

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the "Training for Realtime Writers Act of 2003".

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

Congress makes the following findings:

(1) As directed by Congress in section 723 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 613), as added by section 305 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-104; 110 Stat. 126), the Federal Communications Commission adopted rules requiring closed captioning of most television programming, which gradually require new video programming to be fully captioned beginning in 2006.

(2) More than 28,000,000 Americans, or 8 percent of the population, are considered deaf or hard of hearing, and many require captioning services to participate in mainstream activities.

(3) More than 24,000 children are born in the United States each year with some form of hearing loss.

(4) According to the Department of Health and Human Services and a study done by the National Council on Aging-

(A) 25 percent of Americans over 65 years old are hearing impaired;

(B) 33 percent of Americans over 70 years old are hearing impaired; and

© 41 percent of Americans over 75 years old are hearing impaired.

(5) The National Council on Aging study also found that depression in older adults may be directly related to hearing loss and disconnection with the spoken word.

(6) Empirical research demonstrates that captions improve the performance of individuals learning to read English and, according to numerous Federal agency statistics, could benefit-

(A) 3,700,000 remedial readers;

(B) 12,000,000 young children learning to read;

© 27,000,000 illiterate adults; and

(D) 30,000,000 people for whom English is a second language.

(7) Over the past 5 years, student enrollment in programs that train court reporters to become realtime writers has decreased significantly, causing such programs to close on many campuses.

SEC. 3. AUTHORIZATION OF GRANT PROGRAM TO PROMOTE TRAINING AND JOB PLACEMENT OF REALTIME WRITERS.

(a) IN GENERAL.-The National Telecommunications and Information Administration shall make competitive grants to eligible entities under subsection (b) to promote training and placement of individuals, including individuals who have completed a court reporting training program, as realtime writers in order to meet the requirements for closed captioning of video programming set forth in section 723 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 613) and the rules prescribed thereunder.

(b) ELIGIBLE ENTITIES.-For purposes of this Act, an eligible entity is a court reporting program that-

(1) can document and demonstrate to the Secretary of Commerce that it meets minimum standards of educational and financial accountability, with a curriculum capable of training realtime writers qualified to provide captioning services;

(2) is accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the Department of Education; and

(3) is participating in student aid programs under title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965.

(c) PRIORITY IN GRANTS.-In determining whether to make grants under this section, the Secretary of Commerce shall give a priority to eligible entities that, as determined by the Secretary of Commerce-

(1) possess the most substantial capability to increase their capacity to train realtime writers;

(2) demonstrate the most promising collaboration with local educational institutions, businesses, labor organizations, or other community groups having the potential to train or provide job placement assistance to realtime writers; or
(3) propose the most promising and innovative approaches for initiating or expanding training and job placement assistance efforts with respect to realtime writers.

(d) DURATION OF GRANT.-A grant under this section shall be for a period of two years.

(e) MAXIMUM AMOUNT OF GRANT.-The amount of a grant provided under subsection (a) to an entity eligible may not
exceed $1,500,000 for the two-year period of the grant under subsection (d).

SEC. 4. APPLICATION.

(a) IN GENERAL.-To receive a grant under section 3, an eligible entity shall submit an application to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration at such time and in such manner as the Administration may require. The application shall contain the information set forth under subsection (b).

(b) INFORMATION.-Information in the application of an eligible entity under subsection (a) for a grant under section 3 shall include the following:

(1) A description of the training and assistance to be funded using the grant amount, including how such training and assistance will increase the number of realtime writers.

(2) A description of performance measures to be utilized to evaluate the progress of individuals receiving such training and assistance in matters relating to enrollment, completion of training, and job placement and retention.

(3) A description of the manner in which the eligible entity will ensure that recipients of scholarships, if any, funded by the grant will be employed and retained as realtime writers.

(4) A description of the manner in which the eligible entity intends to continue providing the training and assistance to be funded by the grant after the end of the grant period, including any partnerships or arrangements established for that purpose.

(5) A description of how the eligible entity will work with local workforce investment boards to ensure that training and assistance to be funded with the grant will further local workforce goals, including the creation of educational opportunities for individuals who are from economically disadvantaged backgrounds or are displaced workers.

(6) Additional information, if any, of the eligibility of the eligible entity for priority in the making of grants under section 3©.

(7) Such other information as the Administration may require.

SEC. 5. USE OF FUNDS.

(a) IN GENERAL.-An eligible entity receiving a grant under section 3 shall use the grant amount for purposes relating to the recruitment, training and assistance, and job placement of individuals, including individuals who have completed a court reporting training program, as realtime writers, including-

(1) recruitment;

(2) subject to subsection (b), the provision of scholarships;

(3) distance learning;

(4) development of curriculum to more effectively train realtime writing skills, and education in the knowledge necessary for the delivery of high-quality closed captioning services;

(5) assistance in job placement for upcoming and recent graduates with all types of captioning employers;

(6) encouragement of individuals with disabilities to pursue a career in realtime writing; and

(7) the employment and payment of personnel for such purposes.

(b) SCHOLARSHIPS.-

(1) AMOUNT.-The amount of a scholarship under subsection (a)(2) shall be based on the amount of need of the recipient of the scholarship for financial assistance, as determined in accordance with part F of title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1087kk).

(2) AGREEMENT.-Each recipient of a scholarship under subsection (a)(2) shall enter into an agreement with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to provide realtime writing services for a period of time (as determined by the Administration) that is appropriate (as so determined) for the amount of the scholarship received.

(3) COURSEWORK AND EMPLOYMENT.-The Administration shall establish requirements for coursework and employment for recipients of scholarships under subsection (a)(2), including requirements for repayment of scholarship amounts in the event of failure to meet such requirements for coursework and employment. Requirements for repayment of scholarship amounts shall take into account the effect of economic conditions on the capacity of scholarship recipients to find work as realtime writers.

© ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS.-The recipient of a grant under section 3 may not use more than 5 percent of the grant amount to pay administrative costs associated with activities funded by the grant.

(d) SUPPLEMENT NOT SUPPLANT.-Grants amounts under this Act shall supplement and not supplant other Federal or non-Federal funds of the grant recipient for purposes of promoting the training and placement of individuals as realtime writers

SEC. 6. REPORTS.

(a) ANNUAL REPORTS.-Each eligible entity receiving a grant under section 3 shall submit to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, at the end of each year of the grant period, a report on the activities of such entity with respect to the use of grant amounts during such year.

(b) REPORT INFORMATION.-

(1) IN GENERAL.-Each report of an entity for a year under subsection (a) shall include a description of the use of grant amounts by the entity during such year, including an assessment by the entity of the effectiveness of activities carried out using such funds in increasing the number of realtime writers. The assessment shall utilize the performance measures submitted by the entity in the application for the grant under section 4(b).

(2) FINAL REPORT.-The final report of an entity on a grant under subsection (a) shall include a description of the best practices identified by the entity as a result of the grant for increasing the number of individuals who are trained, employed, and retained in employment as realtime writers.

SEC. 7. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.

There is authorized to be appropriated to carry out this Act, amounts as follows:

(1) $20,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2004, 2005, and 2006.

(2) Such sums as may be necessary for fiscal year 2007.

Mr. CRAIG. Mr. President, that concludes the unanimous consent requests at this time. I yield the floor.

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