FCC Advisory Committees Release Reports

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FCC Advisory Committees Release Reports

Jul 26 2011

Closed Captioning on the Internet & Emergency Access Addressed

Two Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Advisory Committees for the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA) released reports as scheduled in July, 2011.

Both committees were established in December 2010 by Chairman Julius Genachowski in response to provisions in the CVAA. This landmark legislation is designed to ensure that people with disabilities have access to Twenty-first century communications and video programming technologies and is the most far-reaching legislation addressing the needs of people with disabilities since the Americans with Disabilities Act. Each of the advisory committees, established to aid the FCC in implementing the Act's accessibility provisions, is comprised of representatives from a wide range of companies and consumer organizations with knowledge and expertise with respect to these matters.

According to the FCC’s news release, "Both the VPAAC (Video Programming Accessibility Advisory Committee) and EAAC (Emergency Access Advisory Committee) are to be commended for the extensive time, energy, and resources they have put into their reports. The Commission greatly appreciates all that each committee has achieved and looks forward to their continued efforts to provide the Commission with valuable information on these issues," said Chairman Julius Genachowski.

VPAAC Report
After weeks of intense work by committee members, the Video Programming Accessibility Advisory Committee (VPAAC) Report was released July 13, 2011. The committee reached consensus on most items, showing considerable cooperation among participants.

HLAA is a member of VPAAC. Other members include the National Association of the Deaf, Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons, Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc, Center for Hearing & Communications, World Wide Web Consortium, National Center for Accessible Media, Vitac, Caption Colorado, Consumer Electronics Association, Google, Microsoft, Sony and Disney/ABC Cable Networks. A full list of the members can be found on http://vpaac.wikispaces.com

The Committee emphasizes that the consumer experience when viewing captions over the Internet must be equal if not better than when the programming was originally aired on television. The report includes recommended requirements for rendering of captions, including colors of background, characters, opacity, font size and styles. It also includes technical requirements for the captions. The report encourages continued and open innovation in the field of accessibility and recommended the use of advanced features and user controls.

The VPAAC report recommends that a schedule for requiring captioning on the Internet distribution to end users, in cases where the content has aired on television:

  • Effective 6 months after the FCC publishes rules: prerecorded programming that has not been edited;
  • Effective 12 months after the FCC publishes rules: live and near-live programming;
  • Effective 18 months after the FCC publishes rules: all prerecorded programming that has been substantially edited for Internet distribution.

There were a few issues where consensus could not be reached, including some issues related to consumer control of captions on internet-based devices and how quickly those consumer controls should be rolled out.

The report is now in the hands of the FCC. This report should serve as a basis for the FCC to draft a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM). When the NPRM is released, the public will have an opportunity to weigh in. To read the report visit:


EAAC Report
Another report was released July 22, 2011 from the FCC’s Emergency Access Advisory Committee (EAAC). That report addresses the accessibility of Next Generation 9-1-1 for people with disabilities. Their report contains a review and analysis of a survey conducted by the FCC on the kinds of equipment and services used for reaching 9-1-1 by people with disabilities.

The survey revealed that many different types of assistive technology re sued by survey respondents, including:

  • Assistive listening devices (PockeTalkers, neckloops, silhouettes)
  • Augmentative alternative communication devices
  • Braille devices
  • Screen readers
  • Hearing aids and cochlear implants
  • Relay services (including hearing carry over and Speech-To-Speech Relay)
  • Devices for speech-to-text

In accordance with the CVAA, the EAAC will now use the results of the survey to develop and submit to the FCC recommendations to ensure equal access to the technologies used to access NG 9-1-1 services.

To see the EAAC Report:

To see the FCC’s news release: