NCRA represents captioners at FCC meeting

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Carol Studenmund and Heather York on the FCC panel

On Nov. 10, the Federal Communications Commission hosted a roundtable on closed captioning of PEG programming. PEG stands for public, educational, and governmental television channels. Carol Studenmund, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, a broadcast captioner and president of LNS Captioning in Portland, Ore., was in attendance representing the interests of broadcast captioners, along with Heather York, vice president of marketing at VITAC.

The roundtable discussion focused on captioning standards and best practices for PEG providers, as well as the importance of both quality captioning and captioners. Participants also discussed creative strategies to get local captioning covered by larger government entities. Many PEG stations cover public content such as city council meetings and operate on a smaller scale. Educational content, however, also needs to be captioned to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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Carol Studenmund and Mary Beth Henry from the Office of Community Technology for the City of Portland

“It was an honor to represent NCRA at the FCC to talk about captioning for local government programming,” said Studenmund. “Providing access to government at all levels is a vital service for our community. All people, regardless of disabilities, deserve to be able to participate in their government affairs. Captioning helps make that happen for people who are deaf and hard of hearing.”

The agenda for the roundtable is available on the FCC website.

NCRA, captioning vendors submit comments on FCC caption quality best practices

Photo by Greg Elin

Photo by Greg Elin

On Sept. 3, NCRA and several captioning vendors submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission on three issues connected to the implementation of the caption quality best practices. The comments specifically addressed preparation materials, high quality audio signals, and captioning for prerecorded programming. The captioning vendors who signed the comments along with NCRA were: Alternative Captioning Services, Caption Colorado, CaptionMax, LNS Captioning, Media Captioning Services, Paradigm Reporting and Captioning, VITAC, and The Media Access Group at WGBH.

Read the comments

FCC will examine closed captioning of public access, government programming

The FCC will run a forum in November at its headquarters to promote discussion about closed captioning of public access and governmental programming shown on television, according to an article posted July 14 by Broadcastingcable.com. The goal is “to raise awareness of issues surrounding captioning of public access and governmental programming,” according to the FCC announcement. Topics will include benefits of captioning such programming, the relevant captioning obligations of programmers and stations, and effective captioning solutions.

Read more.

NCRA and others call on FCC to address accuracy of captions

On June 8, NCRA was one of several organizations that jointly submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission that address the agency’s rules regarding appropriate methodology and metrics for assessing the accuracy of captions. The groups also reiterated their willingness to work with the Commission to help improve the quality of closed captions. The comments were submitted by the University of Colorado’s Clinical Legal Education Program on behalf of the group. NCRA was one of 10 organizations to sign the comments.

Read more.

FCC’s latest Public Notice offers clarification on compliance certification

On May 8, The National Law Review posted an article updating closed captioning details based on a public notice released by FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau. The Public Notice offered details on the procedures for video programming distributors to show that distributors are making their best efforts to obtain certifications from each programmer stating that the programmer either (a) complies with the FCC’s new caption quality standards, (b) has adopted and follows the Video Programmer Best Practices set forth in the FCC’s rules, or (c) is exempt from the closed captioning rules.  The article also notes that “it is the video programmer — and not, for example, the programmer’s captioning vendor — that must provide the required certification.”

Read more.

1CapApp and Uvision partner for live video captioning

1CapApp announced a partnership with Uvision, on March 11 that will help companies comply with the new FCC mandate requiring programs on live television to include closed captioning on live Web video. “Our partnership with 1CapApp gives customers the flexibility of using a variety of IP-based workflows to publish closed captioning data on live Web video,” explains Uvision’s President Eyal Menin said in the press release. “Closed captioning data can originate far away from where the location video is encoded.”

1CapApp provides the live text stream, and Uvision will merge, sync, and push the stream to the platforms.

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NCRA petitions FCC on behalf of captioning providers

On Feb. 19, NCRA filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission requesting that the agency waive a best practice required in its current captioning rules that calls for a specific formula to be used to measure the accuracy of captions. NCRA filed the petition on behalf of Caption Max, the National Captioning Institute, VITAC, and WGBH, collectively known as Captioning Providers. NCRA and the Captioning Providers are requesting that the commission instead introduce a new best practice that would allow for individual captioning providers to develop and use their own formula when calculating captioning quality.

Read more.

NCRA to be represented on new FCC subcommittee

Photo by Greg Elin

Photo by Greg Elin

NCRA has been named to join 23 other parties representing a number of companies, nonprofit organizations, and individual consumers on the Video Programming Subcommittee under the auspices of the newly created Federal Communications Commission’s Disability Advisory Committee.

The DAC was established by the FCC in December 2014 to provide advice and recommendations to the Commission on a wide array of disability issues within its jurisdiction. The DAC is slated to remain active for two years, with meetings of the full committee and four subcommittees to begin next week.

According to the FCC, the DAC will provide a means for stakeholders with interests in accessibility issues to exchange ideas, facilitate the participation of consumers with disabilities in proceedings before the Commission, and assist the Commission in educating the greater disability community and ADA-covered entities on disability-related matters. The Committee is expected to keep the Commission apprised of current and evolving communications issues for persons with disabilities. Other subcommittees include Communications, Emergency Communications, and Relay/Equipment Distribution.

Adam Finkel, NCRA’s Director of Government Relations, who will represent the Association, said the Video Programming Subcommittee will address televised emergency information, closed captioning, video description, and equipment designed to receive, play back, or record video programming.

“NCRA’s involvement in this subcommittee will guarantee that NCRA’s members’ collective voices will be heard when the FCC is considering proposals regarding captioning,” he said.

“As television continues to evolve away from traditional mediums to different online services like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, NCRA will work to ensure that these services will be captioned, and if the program is distributed live, captioning will be done by a qualified realtime captioner.”

In addition to three consumer members and NCRA, the following groups and companies will serve on the subcommittee: American Council of the Blind; American Foundation for the Blind; Audio Description Associates; Caption First, Inc.; Comcast Cable; Communication Service for the Deaf; Consumer Electronics Association; Deaf Seniors of America; Digital Media Association; Freedom Scientific; Gallaudet Rehabilitation Research Center; Hearing Loss Association of America; National Association of Broadcasters; National Association of the Deaf; National Cable & Telecommunications Association; SSB BART Group; Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc.; Verizon; and Yahoo.

Closed captioning and the elimination of POTS lines

NCRA recently contacted the Society of Broadcast Engineers regarding concerns of how elimination of POTS lines affects closed captioning. According to a white paper submitted by NCRA, telephone companies are phasing out POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) lines in favor of fiber-optic, digital lines, or VoIP lines, which are more efficient for their services but can result in disrupted transmission of closed-captioning data. VoIP compresses the caption data, which damages the captions to the point of making the data unusable on the air. In addition, VoIP can cause random phone line drops, making it unreliable for broadcast captioning.

NCRA states that television stations need to be aware that captioners are still relying on POTS lines and, thus, broadcasters should work with captioners to choose an alternative delivery method. “The onus falls on the broadcaster to remain compliant with the FCC, and they need to work with their captioning vendor to ensure that all the different aspects of the technology work properly,” says be Carol Studenmund, Chair of the Legislative Captioning Subcommittee of the Captioning Committee. One such alternative is upgrading to caption encoders with HD capability that can receive captions through IP delivery.

Read more.

FCC votes on requiring more captioning

On July 11, the FCC voted unanimously to require closed-captioning for online video clips that have already aired on television, according to a post on Deaf News Today. Video clips that originally aired online do not apply, including shows that only air on YouTube or Netflix. Broadcasters must add captions by Jan. 1, 2016. Read more.