National Association of the Deaf

The NAD Advocates for Access to Quality Captioning

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On June 5, 2012 the National Association of the Deaf, along with other consumer interest groups, testified before the U.S. Copyright Office asking that closed captions and audio descriptions be exempted from anti-circumvention measures under Copyright law.

The NAD, Georgetown Law Institute for Public Representation and on behalf of Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc., Gallaudet University, and the American Foundation for the Blind were the groups involved in this testimony. All groups testified that the Copyright law should not stand in the way of third parties being able to add or improve captions or audio descriptions on digital video programming distributed via Internet protocol or on fixed media.

A large amount of video programming is not required to be captioned under the law, such as DVDs and some online programming. The Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) requires the captioning of programs shown online if they were first shown on TV with closed captions. The FCC also exempted video clips of programs shown on TV with captions from coverage under the CVAA.

If content owners do not want to add captions themselves, then there is no reason for third parties, such as schools or online video programming distributors, to be prevented from adding or modifying existing captions.

There are also situations where the quality of the closed captions are so poor, making it nearly impossible to follow the program. Third parties should be able to correct misspellings or improve the timing of captions. Moreover, an exemption for closed captioning will make sure that video players will allow users to customize the caption size, change colors, and improve contrast / readability.

The NAD expects a decision from the U.S. Copyright Office within a year. As part of our testimony, we showed several videos - created by CPC Closed Captioning - that illustrate the good, the bad, and the ugly of closed captioning and audio descriptions- view it here.  



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