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Television

Resources collated by Trisha O’Connell, WGBH-Shapiro National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM), Boston, MA. Introduction edited by Dr. Mark Magennis, National Council for the Blind of Ireland - NCBI Centre for Inclusive Technologies (CFIT)

Section Summary
There are two aspects of television where accessibility considerations arise for viewers with disabilities – the equipment and the programme content. The problems with the actual equipment arise because people with disabilities might face issues with operating the hardware and software needed to work the television. Ensuring accessibility in content means including closed captions or sign language interpretations to the video or audio.

Overview 
There are two aspects of television where accessibility considerations arise for viewers with disabilities – the equipment and the programme content.

Accessible television equipment
The equipment a person uses to watch television depends on the transmission medium. For cable, satellite or terrestrial television, the equipment consists of a television, sometimes a separate receiver in the form of a ‘set-top box’, and a remote control. For internet or mobile television, the equipment is a PC or handheld device running a software application or accessing a website.

Whatever the type of television, the viewer has to use a mix of hardware (screens, buttons, cables, etc.) and software (menus, programme guides, pause/rewind/record functions, etc.). This equipment can sometimes be very difficult to use for people with sensory and physical disabilities. For example, people with vision impairments often find it difficult or impossible to see the labels on a remote control or to read on-screen text. They may require a remote control with clearly labelled buttons that can be distinguished by touch. They may need to be able to increase the size of on-screen text, change its colour, or have it spoken out in a synthetic voice.

People who have poor grip or dexterity may need a remote control that is easy to hold with large well-spaced buttons, or one that can be laid on a flat surface and operated using one hand. People with cognitive impairments need equipment that is easy to unpack and set up and easy to learn and use. For internet or mobile television, people with disabilities will need the applications or websites to be compatible with the assistive hardware and software they use to operate their PC or mobile device. In addition, people with sensory impairments will need equipment and software that is able to access and pass on captions, subtitles, audio description and sign language tracks whenever they are included with television programmes.

Accessible television programme content
Accessible equipment is still no use if you can’t perceive the programme content due to vision or hearing loss. Television programmes therefore often include captions or even sign language for people who are deaf or hard of hearing and audio description for people who are vision impaired or blind. Captions (sometimes referred to as subtitles) provide a written text transcript of the dialogue and other important sounds contained in the programme. Audio description (sometimes referred to as video description) provides a spoken narration during pauses in the dialogue, describing important visual content such as moving objects, actions and facial expressions. Both captions and audio description are vital for the full understanding and enjoyment of programmes by people who cannot perceive those types of information directly. Sign language is less common, but also vital for members of the Deaf community, for whom Sign Language may be their first language.

Resources available in this section
This section lists a large number of resources that will be of great practical use to designers and manufacturers of television equipment and software, programme makers, broadcasters, regulators and others. These include the findings of research into user requirements; technical standards for design and transmission over various network technologies; regulations and guidelines for the authoring and production of captions, audio description and sign language.

Closed captioning, sub-titling and sign language

 
Video Description Services


Transition to Digital Television: IPTV and Convergent Media


Closed captioning, sub-titling and sign language:

—Definitions / process

Captioning FAQ WGBH
Summary: Explanation of different types of captions (offline, real-time), production processes, transmission and distribution problems and suggested styles and conventions for closed captioning.
Reference: http://main.wgbh.org/wgbh/pages/mag/services/captioning/faq/ 
Keywords: Caption production processes; Caption problems; Caption conventions
Target audiences: Broadcasters; Caption agencies; Consumers and advocates


The Basics of DTV Closed Captioning and Video Description, NCAM/WGBH
Summary:
Resources about captions and description in the transition to DTV in the U.S., transmission and reception problems and solutions, FCC rulings and mandates
Reference: http://ncam.wgbh.org/dtv/
Keywords: Captioning; DTV captioning; FCC caption mandates
Target audiences: Consumers; Advocates; Broadcasters


Ofcom: Guidelines on the provision of television access services
Summary:
Guidelines for creation and provision of broadcast captions, audio description and sign language with links to studies and effective practices.
Reference: http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/broadcasting/guidance/other-guidance/tv_access_serv/guidelines/
Keywords: Broadcast captions; Broadcast audio description; Broadcast sign language 
Target audiences: Broadcasters; Policy developers; Consumers


Independent Television Commission (ITC): Guidelines on Standards for Sign Language on Digital Terrestrial Television
Summary:
Guidelines for broadcast provision of sign language and use of interpreters to provide access to television for deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers.
Reference: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/static/archive/itc/itc_publications/codes_guidance/sign_language_dtt/index.asp.html
Keywords: Broadcast access; Sign language
Target audiences: Broadcasters; Policy developers; Consumers


National Centre for Accessible Media (NCAM): International Captioning Report 2000
Summary:
A 2000 Survey of International Captioning and Subtitling for Television

Reference: http://main.wgbh.org/wgbh/pages/ncam_old/archives/northamerica.html
Keywords:
Accessibility; Television; Captioning
Target audiences: Broadcasters; Policy developers; Consumers


Closed captioning, sub-titling and sign language

—Features most desired by persons with disabilities

NCAM: Access to On-Screen Televised Information

Summary: Prototype DTV solutions for TV stations emergency alerts. Address display conflicts between captions and on-screen graphics and enabling real-time conversion of on-screen text into speech.
Reference: http://ncam.wgbh.org/onscreen/
Keywords: Accessibility; Emergencies; Captioning
Target audiences: Policy developers; Broadcasters; Consumers


Harkins, Judith E. et al: Caption Features for Indicating Non-Speech Information: Research toward Standardization. Gallaudet University 1996
Summary:
Results from focus groups conducted to learn consumer preferences for presenting non speech information in captions
Reference: http://tap.gallaudet.edu/Captions/nsi_prj.asp
Keywords: Captioning; Consumers; Preferences
Target audiences: Captioners; Consumers; Advocates


NCAM: Advanced Television Closed Caption Study 1997
Summary:
An NCAM study of consumer preferences which helped shape caption display features of the DTV closed captioning system
Reference: http://ncam.wgbh.org/invent_build/analog/atv/
Keywords: Captions; Preferences; Decoding
Target audiences: Policy developers; Equipment manufacturers; Consumers


NCAM: Captioning Solutions for Handheld Media and Mobile Device
Summary:
Demonstration models and tools for multiple methods of creating, distributing, downloading and displaying captioned content on handheld devices. Usability research on caption-display options.
Reference: http://ncam.wgbh.org/mm/
Keywords: Handheld; Captions; Display preferences
Target audiences: Policy developers; Broadcasters; Consumers


Closed captioning, sub-titling and sign language

—Applicable standards
Consumer Electronics Association (CEA, USA): LINE 21 DATA SERVICE CEA-608; 2008

Summary: EIA/CEA-608, also known as line-21 captions, is the closed-captioning standard for NTSC (analog) broadcasts in the United States.
Reference: http://standards.ce.org/kwspub/published_docs/ANSI-CEA-608-E-Preview.pdf
Keywords: U.S. NTSC caption standard; U.S. line-21 caption standard; EIA CEA 608
Target audiences: Broadcasters; Equipment manufacturers; Standards organizations


Consumer Electronics Association (CEA, USA): Digital Television (DTV) Closed Captioning CEA-708: 2008
Summary: CEA-708-D is the standard for DTV Closed Captioning (DTVCC) in the United States.
Reference: http://www.ce.org/Standards/Standard-Listings/R4-3-Television-Data-Systems-Subcommittee/CEA-708-D.aspx
Keywords: U.S. DTV caption standard; DTVCC; EIA/CEA 708
Target audiences: Broadcasters; Equipment manufacturers; Standards organizations


Advanced Television Systems Committee: Mobile/Handheld (ATSC M/H) Standard; 2009
Summary: ATSC standard for U.S. television and interactive services to be  broadcast directly to handheld devices. Has provisions for transmission of CEA-708 captions.
Reference: http://www.atsc.org/cms/index.php/standards
Keywords: U.S. broadcast mobile television; U.S. handheld television; U.S. DTV mobile caption capability
Target audiences: Broadcasters; Equipment manufacturers; Standards organizations


Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) standards
Summary:
DVB is the international broadcast standards for transmission of digital television signals in the EU. Can transmit bitmapped or other caption data in the future.
Reference:
http://www.dvb.org/technology/standards/
Keywords: Captions; Digital television
Target audiences: Broadcasters; Equipment manufacturers; Standards organizations


Digital Video Broadcasting Tranmission System for Handheld Terminals (DVB-H); EN 302 304 v1.1.
Summary: Handheld-broadcast standard for transmission of digital television signals to mobile devices. Can transmit bitmapped or other caption data in the future.
Reference: http://www.dvb-h.org/technology.htm
Keywords: DVB captions; Handheld
Target audiences: Broadcasters; Equipment manufacturers; Standards organizations


European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI): Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB);Subtitling system;  ETSI EN 300 743 V1.3.1
Summary: Update to the bitmapped DVB subtitling system to ensure compatibility for EU DTV broadcasts
Reference: http://pda.etsi.org/pda/home.asp?wki_id=D7hiYFU1O8MOPUONgHiX6
Keywords: DTV; Captions; Subtitles
Target audiences: Broadcasters; Equipment manufacturers; Standards organizations


Closed captioning, sub-titling and sign language

—Sample of regulations

Federal Communications Commission (US): Closed Captioning of Video Programming
Summary: U.S. FCC fact sheets, complaint procedures and regulations established as result of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which requires broadcasters to caption television programs.
Reference: http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/dro/caption.html
Keywords: Captioning; Requirements; Complaints
Target audiences: Broadcasters; Policy makers; Advocates


Radio and Television Commission (Canada): Access to TV for Persons with Hearing Impairments
Broadcasting Public Notice CRTC 2007-54

Summary:
Canadian Policy requirement for 100% closed captioning for the deaf with exceptions for instances but not pattern s of equipment and for French.
Reference: http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2007/pb2007-54.htm
Keywords: Captioning; Deaf; Policy
Target audiences: Broadcasters; Regulators;Policy Makers


Ofcom: Code on Television Access Services
Summary:
UK regulations for broadcasters’ provision of subtitling, sign language and audio description
Reference: http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/broadcast/other-codes/ctas.pdf
Keywords: Regulation; Hearing Impairment; Visual Impairment
Target audiences: Broadcasters; Advocates; Policy makers


Media Access Australia: Free-to-air Television
Summary: Information about captioning legislation, quotas and exemptions in Australia. Links to UK, U.S. and New Zealand regulations.
Reference: http://www.mediaaccess.org.au/research-policy/australian-access-regulation/television/free-to-air-tv
Keywords: Captioning; Regulation; Discrimination
Target audiences: Policy makers; Broadcasters; Advocates


Anon: Closed captioning in Latin America: Hear-it
Summary: Synopsis of captioning status in some Latin American countries: Argentina, Peru, Mexico, Chile, Colombia.
Reference: http://www.hear-it.org
Keywords: Captioning; Deaf; Latin America
Target audiences: Broadcasters; Policy developers; Advocates


Video Description Services

—Definitions / process

Descriptive Video FAQ: WGBH
Summary: Explanation of description process, programming, and information on how to receive description in the U.S. on analogue and digital television sets.
Reference: http://main.wgbh.org/wgbh/pages/mag/services/description/dvs-faq.html
Keywords: Video Description; Production; Programmes
Target audiences: Broadcasters; Captioning agencies; Consumers


NCAM: The Basics of DTV Closed Captioning and Video Description
Summary:
Resources concerning captions and description in context of Digital Switchover in the U.S; transmission and reception problems and solutions, FCC rulings and mandates
Reference: http://ncam.wgbh.org/dtv/ 
Keywords: Description; Digital Switchover; FCC rulings
Target audiences: Broadcasters; Policy makers; Advocates


Ofcom: Guidelines on the Provision of Television Access Services
Summary:
UK guidelines for creation and provision of broadcast captions, audio description and sign language with links to studies and effective practices.
Reference: http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/broadcasting/guidance/other-guidance/tv_access_serv/guidelines/
Keywords: Broadcasting; Captions; Audio description
Target audiences: Broadcasters; Policy makers; Advocates


Ofcom: Audio Description makes the story clearer: A guide to AD services and technology
Summary: UK described programmes and how to receive them, including costs, providers, and equipment. 
Reference: http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/broadcasting/guidance/tech-guidance/audiodescription/
Keywords: Broadcasting; Audio Description; Instructions
Target audiences: Broadcasters; Policy makers; Advocates


RNIB: Audio Description on TV
Summary:
Introduction to audio description with clips from TV programmes and information on accessing AD. Also information about AD and the UK digital switchover scheme. 
Reference: http://www.rnib.org.uk/livingwithsightloss/tvradiofilm/Pages/audio_description.aspx
Keywords: Audio description; Clips; Digital switchover
Target audiences: Broadcasters; Policy makers; Advocates


Media Access Australia: About Audio Description
Summary:
Information about the description process and audio description in Australia. Site offers monthly Media Access Australia newsletters with updates from around the world. 
Reference: http://www.audiodescription.com.au/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1&Itemid=2
Keywords: Audio description; Newsletters; Broadcasting
Target audiences: Broadcasters; Captioning agencies; Advocates


Video Description Services

—Features most desired by persons with disabilities

NCAM: Access to On-Screen Televised Information; WGBH
Summary: Prototype digital television solutions for station emergency alerts, addressing display conflicts between captions and on-screen graphics, enabling real-time conversion of on-screen text into speech output.
Reference: http://ncam.wgbh.org/onscreen/
Keywords: Accessibility; Emergency Alerts; Broadcasting
Target audiences: Policy developers; Broadcasters; Consumers


American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) & Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP):  Guidelines for the Description of Educational Media; AFB
Summary: Meta-analysis of the research literature on description for children with visual impairments, description guidelines for media produced by expert panel, and description examples.
Reference: http://www.afb.org/Section.asp?SectionID=44&TopicID=338
Keywords: Audio Description; Guidelines; Research
Target audiences: Educators; Description agencies; Media developers


NCAM: Effective Practices for Description of Science Content within Digital Talking Books; WGBH
Summary:
Research-based guidelines on preferred practices for concise descriptions of science-focused images: bar charts, line graphs, Venn diagrams, tables, pie charts, flow charts, complex diagrams, illustrations.
Reference: http://ncam.wgbh.org/publications/stemdx/index.html 
Keywords: Talking Books; Description; Education
Target audiences: Educators; Talking Book Producers; Media developers


Ely, R. et al: Extended Descriptions Increase Content Knowledge in Students with Visual Impairments; Journal of Special Education Technology 2006
Summary:
Study of extended descriptions created for Web-delivered educational content on comprehension of students with visual impairments. 
Reference: Ely, R., Wall Emerson, R., Maggiore, T., Rothberg, M., O’Connell, T., & Hudson, L. (2006). Extended descriptions increase content knowledge in students with visual impairments. Journal of Special Education Technology, Vol. 21 no. 3, pg. 31.
Keywords: Extended description; Education
Target audiences: Educators; Media developers 


Video Description Services

—Applicable standards

Advanced Television Systems Committee (USA) Mobile/Handheld (ATSC M/H) Standard
Summary: ATSC standard for U.S. television and interactive services broadcast directly to handheld devices, relevant to the transmission of additional services such as description.
Reference: http://www.atsc.org/cms/index.php/standards
Keywords: Mobile television; Hand held devices; Audio description
Target audiences: Broadcasters; Manufacturers; Standards organisations   


The Digital Video Broadcasting Project (DVB): Standards & BlueBooks
Summary:
DVB is the international broadcast standard for transmitting digital television adopted by EU/ETSI.  Can also transmit data broadcasting services, such as descriptions
Reference: http://www.dvb.org/technology/standards/
Keywords: Television Description
Target audiences: Broadcasters; Equipment manufacturers; Standards organisations


The Digital Video Broadcasting Project (DVB): Digital Video Broadcasting Transmission System for Handheld Terminals (DVB-H); EN 302 304 v1.1.1
Summary:
Handheld-broadcast standard for transmission of digital television signals to mobile devices, adopted by EU/ETSI. Can also transmit new data broadcasting services, such as descriptions
Reference: http://www.dvb-h.org/technology.htm
Keywords: Mobile television; Description; Standards
Target audiences: Broadcasters; Equipment manufacturers; Standards organisations


Video Description Services

—Sample of regulations

U.S. Federal Communications Commission: Video Description Orders, Public Notices, Notices, Press Releases and Factsheet
Summary: Fact sheets, reports and regulations from a 2000 FCC rulemaking, reversed in 2002, requiring U.S. broadcasters to describe 4 hours of programming per week.
Reference: http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/dro/video-description.html
Keywords: Video Description; Regulations; History
Target audiences: Policy makers; Broadcasters; Advocates


House of Representatives (USA): H.R.6320 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act 2008
Summary: Proposed U.S. legislation mandating accessible IPTV and internet content (captions, descriptions), and accessible menu guides and user interfaces. Reinstates overturned TV description requirements.
Reference: http://www.coataccess.org/node/32
Keywords: IPTV; Accessibility; Legislation
Target audiences: Policy makers; Broadcasters; Advocates  


Canadian-Radio Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC): Broadcasting Public Notice: CRTC 2007-101
Summary: Canadian requirements for television program distributors (broadcast, cable, satellite) to carry video description in their signals and ensure pass through to the consumer.
Reference: http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2007/pb2007-54.htm
Keywords: Video description; Regulations; Complaints
Target audiences: Policy makers; Broadcasters; Advocates 


Canadian Radio and Television Commission (CRTC): Access to TV for persons visual impairments
Summary: Synospis of what description is, who uses it, Canadian description providers and links to regulations.
Reference: http://www.crtc.gc.ca/ENG/INFO_SHT/b322.htm
Keywords: Video Description; Regulations
Target audiences: Policy makers; Broadcasters; Advocates


Transition to Digital Television: IPTV and Convergent Media 

IPTV and Web video accessibility

Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI): Video in the Web; WAI Timed Text Working Group
Summary:
A W3C Working Group studying ways to make video a "first-class citizen" of the Web, including the transmission of captions and descriptions.
Reference: http://www.w3.org/2008/WebVideo/Activity.html
Keywords: Web video; IPTV; Distribution
Target audiences: Broadcasters; Producers; Consumers


Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB): Submission to Think Tank on Convergence
Summary: UK summary of programmatic, policy and equipment challenges to accessibility of converged services within IPTV and on the Web, including case studies.
Reference: http://www.docstoc.com/docs/122028521/The-role-of-accessibility-in-IPTV-services
Keywords: Web video; IPTV; Case Studies
Target audiences: Broadcasters; Producers; Consumers


Transition to Digital Television: IPTV and Convergent Media 

—DTV / IPTV equipment, interface and controls

Jim Slater, Slater Electronics Services: Accessible Television Guidelines; Tiresias
Summary: Guidelines for TV system designers; remote controls, interactive services, onscreen menus, interactive TV services and systems
Reference: http://www.tiresias.org/research/guidelines/television/index.htm
Keywords: Television; Remote Controls; On screen menus
Target audiences: Consumer electronics manufacturers; Technology developers; Broadcasters


NCAM: Home Media Center; WGBH October 2004 - September 2007
Summary: Talking Myth TV: source code for Linux media center with speech interface enabled via keyboard and remote control. Includes usability report from blind end-users study.
Keywords: Television; Menu; Speech
Target audiences: Technology developers; Equipment manufacturers; Consumers


Tiresias:  Guidelines for Accessible and Universal Remote controls
Summary:
Recommendations for developers of dedicated remotes, customisable handheld control devices and touch screen interfaces with links to reports, research and standards. Cross reference section 4.5
Reference:
http://www.tiresias.org/research/guidelines/remote.htm
Keywords: Television; Remote Controls; Menus
Target audiences: Equipment manufacturers; Technology developers; Broadcasters


Schmidt, Chris and Wlodkowski, Tom: A Developer's Guide to Creating Talking Menus for Set-top Boxes and DVDs"; The Access to Convergent Media Project; WGBH 2003
Summary:
Comprehensive guidelines from research with AOL on accessible EPG// set-top box menus requirements; and production of commercial DVDs with audio description and talking menus
Reference: http://ncam.wgbh.org/resources/talkingmenus/
Keywords: Accessibility; Television; Menus
Target audiences: Technology developers; Equipment manufacturers; DVD developers


RNIB: Information for Television Professionals
Summary:
Recommendations for industry on accessible TV design & services with "vulnerable user requirement specifications" for DTV equipment (set-up, menus, remote controls, captions, descriptions, internet access)
Reference:
http://www.rnib.org.uk/professionals/tvradiofilm/television/Pages/tv.aspx
Keywords:
Television; Remote Controls; Menus
Target audiences:
Equipment manufacturers; Technology developers; Broadcasters


Ofcom: Summary of Research on the Ease of Use of Domestic Digital Television Equipment; 2006
Summary: Research developing a checklist of design considerations for accessible and usable digital television equipment, containing substantial scope of relevance to digital radio equipment design.
Reference: http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/research/tv-research/dtvu.pdf
Keywords: Accessibility; Usability; Design
Target audiences: Industry; Designers; Regulators


Transition to Digital Television: IPTV and Convergent Media 

—IPTV and Web video accessibility standards

Timed Text Working Group: Timed Text (TT) Authoring Format 1.0 – Distribution Format Exchange Profile (DFXP):  W3C Candidate Recommendation, W3C, November 2006

Summary: Working to produce a non-proprietary text-display format for digital video transmissions. Can be used for captions and subtitles.
Reference: http://www.w3.org/TR/2006/CR-ttaf1-dfxp-20061116/
Keywords: Captions; Subtitles; Standards organisations
Target audiences: Video producers; Broadcasters; Producers


ITU Study Group 13: IPTV- Global Standards Initiative (GSI), ITU, 2007
Summary: Coordinate and promote the development of global IPTV standards. IPTV can carry ancillary data, such as captions or descriptions.
Reference: http://www.itu.int/ITU-T/gsi/iptv/
Keywords: IPTV; Standards organizations; Broadcasters
Target audiences: Broadcasters; Video producers; Authors


Open IPTV Forum: Release 1 Specification, Volume 2 – Media Formats V1.0; 2009
Summary: IPTV specifications by pan-industry initiative fostering IPTV growth. Specifies type of caption data supported in IPTV.
Reference: http://www.openiptvforum.org/docs/Release1/OIPF-T1-R1-Specification-Volume-2-Media-Formats-V1_0-2009-01-06.pdf
Keywords: IPTV; Standards organisation; CEA-708
Target audiences: Broadcasters; Television industry; Consumers


New Technology Committee: 23B Broadband; Society of Motion Picture Engineers (SMPTE); 2008
Summary: The U.S. SMPTE Broadband 23B Standards Committee is developing interoperable IPTV content and container formats, including captions and subtitles.
Reference: http://www.smpte.org/standards
Keywords: IPTV; Captioning; Formats
Target audiences: Broadcasters; Television industry; Consumers


Transition to Digital Television: IPTV and Convergent Media 

—Sample of regulations

House of Representatives (USA): H.R.6320 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act 2006
Summary:
Proposed U.S. legislation mandating accessible IPTV and internet content (captions, descriptions), and accessible menu guides and user interfaces. Reinstates overturned TV description requirements.
Reference: http://www.coataccess.org/node/32
Keywords: IPTV; Accessibility; Legislation
Target audiences: Policy makers; Broadcasters; Advocates