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Overview

The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) now requires video programming that is closed-captioned on television to also be captioned when it is shown on the internet. Closed captioning is the displayed text transcription of the audio portion of a program, providing access to people who are deaf or have hearing loss.

The Federal Communications Commission set a deadline of Sept. 30, 2013, for all previously aired, full-length broadcast video to be captioned prior to being published online. The FCC is not requiring video clips– including news clips– outtakes and home movies to be captioned as of yet, despite protestations from disability advocates.

A full overview of the requirements can be found on the FCC website.

Deadlines

There are several upcoming deadlines for archived TV footage aired online to be captioned:

  • March 30, 2014: Video in a distributor’s or provider’s library shown on TV with captions must be captioned within 45 days if aired online on or after March 30, 2014, and before March 30, 2015.
  • March 30, 2015: Video in a distributor’s or provider’s library shown on TV with captions must be captioned within 30 days if aired online on or after March 30, 2015, and before March 30, 2016.
  • March 30, 2016: Video in a distributor’s or provider’s library shown on TV with captions must be captioned within 15 days if aired online on or after March 30, 2016.

Captioning Requirements

The FCC has not set specific captioning standards, although it does recommend the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers Timed Text (SMPTE-TT) caption format.

Filing a Complaint

The FCC is responsible for oversight of the new standards and deadlines, but there is not an active oversight component at this point. Consumers may file a complaint with either the FCC or the video programming distributor or provider in question.

A written complaint must be filed either online or mail within 60 days of the captioning issue. After receiving the complaint, the video distributor will have 30 days to respond.

For further instructions on what to include in a complaint and where to send it, go to http://www.fcc.gov/guides/captioning-internet-video-programming.

Closed Captioning Programs

3PlayMedia
Provides closed captioning and transcription services in a wide variety of formats.

Dotsub
Allows user to create subtitles in any language for personal videos.

Project Read On
Transcribes audio into closed captions for Web video.

Telestream
Provides closed captioning software to create and edit video captions for mobile and Web. (MacCaption for Macs and Caption Maker for Windows).

Vimeo
Users must upload the caption file for any videos they upload. Closed captioning is not automatic.

YouTube
One of the only Web video forums to automatically caption videos through voice recognition software.

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