Almost 10 years after consumer groups filed a petition with the FCC requesting standards for caption quality, the FCC has acted. On February 20, at their Open Meeting the FCC voted unanimously to upgrade TV closed captioning quality.
HLAA, along with other consumer groups, have provided input at every stage of the process. We applaud Chairman Tom Wheeler for setting his sight on the goal of inclusion for people with disabilities as among his first priorities after taking the helm November 4, 2013. We also thank the Commissioners and staff at the FCC who put in endless hours of work on this item.
HLAA members, as well as many others who are deaf or hard of hearing, packed the Commission meeting room to show their support for caption quality standards. Claude Stout, executive director of TDI, provided comments at the meeting, as did 14 year old Tai Jensen, who was born in China and credits captioned television to helping her not only learn English, but fit in with other schoolmates who want to chat all about her favorite teen program, “Lab Rats.”
The Order adopts quality standards for accuracy, synchronicity (timing), program completeness, and placement of closed captions. The Order distinguishes between pre-recorded, live and near live programming. Best practices for video programmers and captioning vendors are included in the Order.
The Commission also adopted measures to ensure that greater access will be provided in local communities by requiring broadcasters who are permitted to convert teleprompter script to captions to pre-script more of their news programming, including sports, weather and breaking news.
In addition to the Report and Order, the FCC issued a Declaratory Ruling clarifying existing rules and defining requirements for “on demand” programming and other issues. The Commission also included a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that seeks comment on reapportioning some of the captioning responsibilities. [ View the document ]
HLAA looks forward to working with the Commission and with the television industry to see truly good quality captions become a reality.