Deaf and hard-of-hearing activists are calling new Federal Communication Commission (FCC) rulings on closed captioning a step forward – but only a small step. The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) contains multiple loopholes that render the act largely ineffective.
The act, which went into effect Sept. 30, requires producers to add closed captioning to TV and website programming, but issues remain. A few of the top concerns are:
- The new closed captioning rules apply only to regular, full-length television shows on TV or the Internet;
- The law does not apply to Internet shows rebroadcast on websites such as Hulu News;
- Broadcasters must caption full-length newscasts on TV or live streams but are not required to caption short video clips.
“The NAD strongly encourages all content providers, producers and promoters to ensure 100% access to captions for all online video content,” said Bobbie Beth Scoggins, President of the National Association of the Deaf.
Several lawsuits have been filed by or on behalf of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community in the recent past. Last month, the NAD and Netflix reached a binding agreement that requires Netflix to provide 100 percent closed captioning of their streaming content within two years. The Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness, Inc. and CNN.com are in an ongoing case over discrimination against people with hearing. And the Coalition of Organizations for Accessibility is working to raise awareness of communications companies watering down legislation by applying for exemptions and waivers to dodge CVAA obligations.
If you’re working toward a closed captioning career, voice your support via Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #captionthis. And if you’ve not yet begun your career training, contact the Stenotype Institute, with campuses in Jacksonville, Orlando and online, at 800-273-5090 to speak with an enrollment specialist, or enroll online.