Bill Would Require Captions For Online Video

Would make content more accessible to disabled

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U.S. Representative Ed Markey (D-MA) is supporting a bill that would require major producers of Internet video to add captions and video description soundtracks to communicate to the blind what is happening on-screen.

The bill would require changes in the design of television and telephone equipment to make the devices easier for the disabled to operate. The purpose is, "To ensure that people with disabilities are not left behind as technology changes," Markey told the Boston Globe.

The measure would require TV networks to provide captioning and video description tracks when they stream their shows online. Video description tracks would be mandatory for regular TV broadcasts.

"So many people are watching TV on their computers, it’s basically TV," said Larry Goldberg, director of the Media Access Group at the Boston public television station WGBH. "Why shouldn’t it be captioned, too?"

Goldberg said the captions embedded in TV shows generally need to be tuned to work specifically on the Internet, because the shows have fewer commercial when they are viewed online.

Captions and video descriptions must also work on different media player programs found on Windows, Macintosh, and Linux computers. "There’s no single common file format or way for all media players to handle captions," Goldberg said.

Goldberg is working with the Internet Captioning Forum, a group of technology companies that includes AOL, Microsoft, Google and Yahoo. "The content providers want to do this," he said. "They really do."

Bill Would Require Captions For Online Video
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