As the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) prepares to adopt rules to ensure individuals with disabilities can fully utilize and enjoy Internet-delivered video content, the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) announced that it would make its standard for closed-captioning of online video content (known as SMPTE Timed Text and by the designation SMPTE 2052) available free of charge.
SMPTE is the worldwide leader in motion-imaging standards and education for the communications, media, and entertainment industries.
COAT Praises SMPTE Accessibility Efforts
The decision by SMPTE to make its captioning standard available free of charge has drawn praise from the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT), which advocates for people with disabilities and is providing input on the implementation of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) to ensure accessibility, usability, and affordability of broadband, wireless, and Internet technologies for people with disabilities.
The Steering Committee Organization Members of COAT are the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), American Council of the Blind (ACB), American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD), and National Association of the Deaf (NAD).
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Release of SMPTE Standard Well Timed
The announcement comes as the FCC is readying rules for online captions under the CVAA, which is described by COAT as “the most significant piece of accessibility legislation since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990.” Among its provisions, the CVAA requires the captioning of previously shown TV programs when they are made available on the Internet.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 54.4 million people reported some level of disability and 35 million reported a severe disability in 2005.
Open Design Creates Opportunities for Manufacturers, Surety for Content Providers
The SMPTE closed-captioning standard – known officially as SMPTE 2052 – provides a common set of instructions for authoring and distributing captions or subtitles for broadband video content. This design means that TV content providers need only use one method for providing captions rather than custom approaches for different Web browsers or media players – including new digital content and previously captioned analog programs.
Yet the standard also leaves plenty of room for innovation. It is media-device and media-player agnostic, leaving manufacturers free to develop a wide range of products without worrying about interoperability issues. In much the same way that companies develop plug-in modules for Web browsers, the SMPTE standard enables additions to its core closed-captioning capabilities.
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