With the increasing laws that address the requirement to use closed captioning, many businesses and other entities are wondering whether they need to provide closed captioning. In short, there are only a few exceptions when it comes to exemption from closed captioning. This means most English and Spanish programming in the United States must follow the regulations that took effect in 1998 through the passing in Congress of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Over the years, the requirements have continued to increase.
Any company that is questioning whether they are required to provide closed captioning on their presentations can benefit from reading the FCC fact sheet that details what closed captioning is, who must use it and how the regulations affect various industries and the media. This sheet can also help companies avoid receiving a complaint for a violation, as well as provide information on how to make a complaint if you identify a violation of the regulations.
Federal and State Information
According to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, all federal entities must make all their information available to people with disabilities. This act was enhanced with the addition of the Workforce Investment Act in 1998. These acts required all government agencies to use open or closed captioning in all of their audio and visual materials, including those used for training, information and media productions, to ensure everyone has equal access to the information provided.
These acts simply back up what the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, had previously instituted, helping to put those who suffer from disabilities equal opportunities to those the average person has. This includes providing effective communication for everyone, including those who have hearing, vision and speech impairments that can make it more difficult to communicate. Federal, state and local government agencies are required to provide any aids necessary.
Because of all these acts, it is essential for these agencies to provide those with impairments with a way to receive the same information as everyone else. While this often comes in the form of a written transcript, more agencies are beginning to use closed captioning instead to ensure the hearing impaired can read along while the webinar is actually broadcast.
What Does the Future Hold?
In October of 2010, new legislation was passed in the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. This act carried support from more than 240 organizations and was designed to amend the Communications Act that was already in place. Because of the importance of communication in today’s society, including the easy accessibility of the Internet, there will be further need for legislation in this area in the future to require just about every form of audio and visual media to carry some accessibility aids.