New Federal Captioning Guidelines – Beginning January 18, 2018, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was “refreshed” to require that information and communication technology in the public sector, especially web content, be accessible to all. Section 508 addresses not only federal agencies but is widely applied to state and local entities such as colleges and universities that receive federal funding. If you represent such an agency, are you compliant with new federal captioning guidelines?
According to GCN: Technology, Tools and Tactics for Public Sector IT, Section 508 deals with electronic services including “web page content, PDF documents, and audio and video content,” specifying requirements to ensure that all web content is accessible to people with disabilities, such as deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals. These guidelines, which were ordered in January of 2017, are meant to keep pace with rapid advances in technology, such as the rising use of Internet video and live webcasts across devices.
New Federal Captioning Guidelines and Requirements
To achieve its goals, Section 508 incorporates the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. WCAG 2.0 defines how to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities, including those who are deaf or hard of hearing. Of particular interest to federal agencies using video web content, Success Criterion 1.2.2 of WCAG 2.0 states, “Captions are provided for all prerecorded audio content in synchronized media.” Examples of prerecorded synchronized media might include video tutorials or artistic performances. Success Criterion 1.2.4 states, “Captions are provided for all live audio content in synchronized media,” and examples include live news webcasts or realtime artistic performances. In both cases, captions should provide dialogue AND non-speech information such as sound effects and other significant audio.
State and Local Captioning Requirements
Although New Federal Captioning Guidelines Section 508 places requirements on federal agencies, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act may also require colleges and universities receiving federal funds to adhere to Section 508. According to the EDUCAUSE Review, institutions of higher education are now facing class-action lawsuits over the issue of accessible websites. Based on complaints from advocacy groups such as the National Association of the Deaf and the U.S. Department of Education, “Higher education should now be on notice: Anyone with an Internet connection can now file a complaint or civil lawsuit, not just students with disabilities.”
CompuScripts Can Help with New Federal Captioning Guidelines
If you represent a federal agency or an institution of higher learning which produces Internet video content, CompuScripts can bring you into compliance with Section 508 captioning requirements. CompuScripts offers both realtime and postproduction captioning services. Additionally, CompuScripts is endorsed by the Described and Captioned Media Program, which is administered by the National Association of the Deaf and funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Contact CompuScripts Captioning to help your agency or school comply with Section 508.