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Television Broadcasts Must Have Closed Captioning Data


With few exceptions, all video content that will be aired on television must have EIA 608/708 closed captioning for the hearing impaired as mandated by the FCC.  This includes both HD and SD TV shows, films, commericals, live news broadcasts, and Video on Demand (VOD) libraries.  Failure to comply with captioning regulates may result in fines, penalties, and/or rejection of your show by a broadcast facility.

Web Accessibility Also Requires Closed Captioning


In addition to TV closed captioning, virtually all federal agencies and most educational institutions must also add closed captioning to their Web-Based audio and video.  New internet technology now allows users to add closed captioning to Flash, Windows Media, QuickTime Podcast, and Real Player.

How does this affect Colleges and Universities?


If the college receives federal financial assistance, then it must make its programs, services, and activities (such as broadcasts and websites) accessible to individuals with a disability, including individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.  The college has this obligation pursuant to section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act may also apply.

Although section 508 applies only to the federal government, the college may find its standards useful in coming into compliance with section 504 and Title II.



Section 504




State Laws That May Affect You


State Laws may be more stringent and require not only agencies to closed caption their web and TV video content, but also may have a specific deadline to do so.   New York State is an example of this.

New York State Accessibility Laws for video






ADA Title IV: Telecommunications Relay Services


Title IV addresses telephone and television access for people with hearing and speech disabilities. It requires common carriers (telephone companies) to establish interstate and intrastate telecommunications relay services (TRS) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. TRS enables callers with hearing and speech disabilities who use telecommunications devices for the deaf (TDDs), which are also known as teletypewriters (TTYs), and callers who use voice telephones to communicate with each other through a third party communications assistant. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has set minimum standards for TRS services. Title IV also requires closed captioning of Federally funded public service announcements. For more information about TRS, contact the FCC at:

Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
(888) 225-5322 (Voice)
(888) 835-5322 (TTY)

Disclaimer: The above information is based on CPC’s interpretation of the law. You may want to consult your own attorney for their opinion.

Additional Information
Federal Agency Television and MultiMedia Captioning Regulations as defined by the U.S. Access Board

From http://www.epa.gov/accessibility/faqs/index.htm#1

C.6.ii. If a Federal agency is distributing a television or multimedia production or a web-cast presentation, does it have to be open or closed captioned and audio-described?

Section 1194.24(c) and (d) of the Access Board’s standards require that all training or informational video and multimedia productions which support the agency’s mission and which have audio information or visual information that is necessary for the comprehension of the content, be captioned or audio described. Hence, if the production is multimedia (e.g. image and sound) and is considered “training or informational,” then it must meet the applicable requirements of 1194.24 (c) and (d) of the Access Board’s standards. If the production is web-based, regardless of whether it is multimedia, such as a live webcast of a speech, then it must also meet the applicable requirements of 1194.22.

C.8 Are Section 508 access requirements satisfied if the agency provides such access following a request for it, as opposed to in anticipation of a request for access?

No. Unless an exception applies, the requirements of section 1194.24 (c) and (d) of the Access Board’s standards are to be met at the time the product is developed or, in the case of a procurement, when the product is delivered (unless an exception applies). For example, the production of a training video, which is covered by the section 508 standards, must include the incorporation of open or closed captioning and audio description during the development phase, not after a request is made for it.

closed captioning