FCC reminds broadcasters to make emergency information accessible

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Thursday, 23 June 2011 09:41am

The US communications and media regulator, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), has published a Public Notice reminding broadcasters, cable and satellite television operators and all other domestic video program providers to provide access services on emergency information.

Given the recent floods and tornados across the United States, the FCC emphasised the importance of ensuring that people who have vision or hearing impairment have access to emergency information, especially all ‘critical details’ pertaining to the emergency, and how to respond.

The requirement applies to all distributors of video programming to American households, with no exceptions. All distributors must ensure the information they provide is accessible, whatever signal or medium they use to distribute the contact.

For people who are blind or vision impaired, providers must audio describe the main content of any emergency broadcast, similar to an open audio description.

If a provider is distributing the emergency information through a ‘crawl’ or ‘scroll’ feed, for example, at the same time as normal programming, the distributor must play an emergency warning tone to alert people who are blind or vision impaired to tune to another source for emergency information.

For people who are Deaf or hearing impaired, any information delivered via audio must be delivered visually also, either through closed or open captions, or through a ‘crawl’ or ‘scroll’ feed. Captions must not obscure ‘crawls’ or ‘scrolls’ and vice versa.

Read the full public notice (DOC).

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