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Television: Support Universal Captioning

Hearing Loss Association of America Signs Petition for Rulemaking Requesting Universal Captioning

February 8, 2011 - According to Federal Communication (FCC) rules in 2006, television captioning was supposed to have reached 100% of new television programming – except for the exemptions. As it turns out, the exemptions are significant:

  • Late night programming
  • Commercial and political advertising
  • Locally produced non-news programming
  • Interstitials (short ads for other programs), promotional announcements and public service announcements
  • Channels producing revenues of under $3 million

Not only that, the rules allow electronic newsroom technique (ENT) of captioning for any city, large or small, that is not among the top 25 television markets. That means when a snowstorm wallops Chattanooga, Tennessee or man with a gun hits the streets in Tucson, Arizona, there is no requirement for live captioning. If you can’t hear the newscasters braving the elements during that winter storm, or those on the streets as events unfold, well, that’s just too bad.

Caption, Captions, Closed CaptioningThese rules were established back in 1997. The FCC gave programmers 8 years (effective in 2006) to reach 100% captioning of non-exempt new programming and 10 years (effective 2008) to provide 75% captioning of pre-rule programming (older television programming shown before 1998). 

It’s time to look at these rules once again. In fact, it’s time that millions of people with hearing loss got the same information at the same time as people who can hear. It’s time for a change.

Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (TDI) drafted this 40-page petition, which was filed at the FCC on January 27. HLAA signed on, along with the Association of Late Deafened Adults (ALDA), American Association of the Deaf-Blind (AADB), American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), Tucson Citizens for Better Captioning (TCBC), Deaf and Hard of Hearing Consumer Advocacy Network (DHHCAN), and California Coalition of Agencies Serving the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CCASDHH).

HLAA looks forward to working with the FCC, broadcasters and other organizations supporting people with hearing loss to update rules to provide greater access to people with hearing loss.

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