U.S. Proposes Video Descriptions of Emergencies for Blind

FCC seeks comments on requiring the use of a secondary audio stream to describe emergency information
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The U.S. government is seeking comments to a proposed rule mandating that emergency information be accessible to individuals who are blind and visually disabled and that televisions make available video description and accessible emergency information.

On Nov. 28, 2012, the Federal Communications Commission posted a Federal Register notice—Accessible Emergency Information, and Apparatus Requirements for Emergency Information and Video Description: Implementation of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010—that provides details of the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) seeking to make televised emergency information more accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

Under the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-260), the FCC must “promulgate regulations” requiring video programming providers and video programming distributors and program owners to convey “emergency information in a manner accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired.”
The FCC’s NPRM proposes to make televised emergency information more accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired by requiring the use of a secondary audio stream to provide emergency information aurally that is conveyed visually during programming other than newscasts.

The NPRM seeks comment on how to ensure that television apparatus are able to make available video descriptions, as well as to make emergency information accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired, the Federal Register notice says. The proposal “focuses on the availability of secondary audio streams, because that is both the mechanism for providing video description and our [FCC] proposed mechanism for making emergency information accessible,” the NPRM says.

Comments are due Dec. 18, 2012 and reply comments are due Dec. 28, 2012.

Click here to access the Federal Register notice.

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