Research & policy

US communications regulator FCC seeks comment on tech accessibility

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The US communications regulator, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), has put out a call for industry and public comment on the accessibility of communications technologies.

The comment will help the FCC produce a report on the extent to which communication technologies are accessible, ongoing accessibility barriers of these technologies, as well as recordkeeping and enforcement of accessibility requirements.

The FCC is required to produce a report every two years on the level of industry compliance with the accessibility requirements of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act 2010 (CVAA).


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Claims EU, US accessibility rules are falling off the agenda

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Warnings have been issued that requirements to make websites accessible in Europe and the US are falling behind schedule.

In Europe, the European Blind Union (EBU) has issued a warning that the European Commission’s pledge — Directive 2004/18/EC — to make all public websites and websites providing basic services to citizens accessible by 2015 is slipping behind schedule.

The EBU claims that EU Ministers have not held any meaningful discussions on the directive since June 2013.


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Nine’s captioners audited for quality

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Ai-Media, the caption supplier for the Nine Network, has released the results of its first external caption quality audit, scoring more than 99% accuracy.

Measuring caption quality is an emerging field, with many different systems being tried around the world. Ai-Media’s audit was scored using the NER (Number, Edition error and Recognition error) system developed by Pablo Romero-Fresco and Juan Martinez. This model recognises that different kinds of errors have different impacts and therefore the quality measure should take this into account.


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Audio description seminar calls for papers

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The 5th Advanced Research Seminar on Audio Description (ARSAD) will be held in Barcelona on 19-20 March, 2015, and organisers are calling on experts and researchers in the field to submit papers for it.

The seminar, which was first held in 2007, is organised by the TransMedia Catalonia Research Group and the EU project HBB4ALL (Hybrid Broadcast Broadband For All) and is partially funded by the Spanish government. It “aims to bring together practitioners and researchers in order to advance the knowledge of current Audio Description (AD) practices and research”.


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Naughty behaviour from Canadian porn channel

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The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has warned Channel Zero, a Toronto-based company that provides three pornographic channels, that it is in breach of license regulations by not captioning 100 percent of content.

As reported in York Region news, the channels are currently up for licence renewal, and CRTC has the power to revoke licenses if caption requirements are not met. At a hearing on 28 April, a representative from Channel Zero said that it had increased its captioning staff to six to provide captions for AOV Adult Movie Channel, AOV Action Clips, AOV Maleflixxx and two non-pornographic channels, and these were now all in full compliance.


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UK media regulator releases first caption quality report

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On October 2013, the UK communications regulator Ofcom announced that it would be requiring broadcasters to measure and report on the quality of their live captioning, with four reports to be completed at six-monthly intervals over the next two years. The first of these reports has now been released.

Broadcasters are required to measure quality in sample of programs from three genres: news, entertainment and chat shows. The dimensions of quality to be measured are:


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Captioning to increase in the Netherlands

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The Dutch culture ministry is introducing new requirements for closed captioning on television, which will now include the commercial television broadcasters as well as the public broadcaster NPO.

Currently, about 20 per cent of programs on Dutch television are foreign language (mainly English), and these are usually broadcast with Dutch subtitles, providing a level of access for Deaf and hearing impaired viewers. In addition to this, there has been closed captioning available since teletext was introduced in 1980. Legislation required the NPO to provide closed captioning on 95% of the Dutch-language programs shown on its three channels, Netherlands 1, 2 and 3, by 2011.


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US government agency sued for inaccessibility

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An accessibility law suit has been brought against the United States General Services Administration (GSA) alleging that its website, SAM.gov, is inaccessible and does not comply with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Section 504 requires that individuals with disabilities have equal access to the programs and services provided by recipients of federal funding.

The GSA is responsible for administering the federal government’s non-defence contracts and for ensuring that federal contractors comply with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.


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Australia urged to ease copyright restrictions on accessible books

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On  World Book Day, the Australian Government has been called on to ease the copyright restrictions which reduce the number of books that are available to blind, vision impaired and print disabled readers.

Around the world copyright law, which protects the rights of authors, has inadvertently worked to restrict the number of publications which can be reproduced in braille and other alternative formats. The World Blind Union estimates that just 1-7% of all books published are made available to blind readers.


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University entrance now possible for blind students in China

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Thanks to a change in regulation, blind and vision impaired students in China will be given access to mainstream higher education.

The Chinese government has released regulations stating that the national university entrance exam must be made available in Braille and electronic formats. Prior to this, these students were unable to attend mainstream universities, which drastically reduced their chances of employment and equal participation in society.


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