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Accessibility for All: When You Legally Need to Use Closed Captions

By March 13, 2018July 12th, 2023No Comments

As one of the most dynamic, powerful media formats out there today, video content is huge online – more than 500 million hours of videos are watched on YouTube each day, and views on branded video content have increased 258% on Facebook and 99% on YouTube (June 2017). As digital marketing and online business evolves, the trends, consumers, and search engines favor video more and more.

Videos allow businesses to accurately show off products and services, personify brands, and tell real stories that build connection and promote engagement. Not every viewer has the ability to easily hear or see what you’re trying to communicate in a video, however. Every audience has a range of needs — especially where media is concerned — and it’s critical to accommodate with accurate closed captions for each video. In some cases, closed captions for videos are even legally required.

When Are Closed Captions Required?

For broadcasters and cable companies in the United States, captions are required for 100% of English programming, as well as for televised emergency information. Captioning may also be necessary to make audio information and communication accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. There are civil rights laws in place that prohibit discrimination against those with disabilities, and some larger organizations and broadcasters alike have legal obligations under those laws to provide equal access — this means accurate captions!

The FCC, thankfully, has four guiding principles for the quality of captioning that is required. Video closed captions must be:

  • Accurate: Captions must match the spoken words in the dialogue and convey background noises and other sounds to the fullest extent possible.
  • Synchronous: Captions must coincide with their corresponding spoken words and sounds to the greatest extent possible and must be displayed on the screen at a speed that can be read by viewers.
  • Complete: Captions must run from the beginning to the end of the program to the fullest extent possible.
  • Properly placed: Captions should not block other important visual content on the screen, overlap one another or run off the edge of the video screen.

National Geographic, one of the largest nonprofit institutions in the world, has a large focus on informational and exploration-based video content and is well-known for providing accurate closed captions – even translating for target languages. They have a firm commitment to accessibility for all viewers, as well as a legal obligation to the FCC. These laws that are enforced by the FCC include:

1. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

“The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.”

2. Rehabilitation Act

“The Rehabilitation Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs conducted by Federal agencies, in programs receiving Federal financial assistance, in Federal employment, and in the employment practices of Federal contractors. The standards for determining employment discrimination under the Rehabilitation Act are the same as those used in title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

3. 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act

“The CVAA updates federal communications law to increase the access of persons with disabilities to modern communications. The CVAA makes sure that accessibility laws enacted in the 1980s and 1990s are brought up to date with 21st-century technologies, including new digital, broadband, and mobile innovations.”

4. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

“The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (formerly called P.L. 94-142 or the Education for all Handicapped Children Act of 1975) requires public schools to make available to all eligible children with disabilities a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment appropriate to their individual needs.”

These laws are necessary to encourage equal access to every person, regardless of their disabilities or situations. Whether or not your industry requires them by law, we believe video closed captions should always be used to share content with everyone.

How to Get Affordable & Accurate Closed Captions

You can easily get accurate and reliable video closed captions to improve accessibility, gain more viewers, and improve SEO overall. Whether you are legally required to caption your videos or want to keep up with industry standards, we offer highly-accurate and affordable closed captions and video transcripts.

TranscribeMe provided National Geographic with a custom solution – both transcription and translation services – for their rich audio and video content, as well as rush delivery. By using our closed caption services, content producers, broadcasters, large organizations, non-profits and others can reach wider audiences and promote greater access among those with disabilities. We offer affordable, highly accurate closed captions in SRT format, ready to use for:

  • Online video content
  • Corporate training videos
  • Recruiting videos
  • YouTube, Vimeo, and other hosting services

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