The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced 30 September as the deadline for TV networks and online video providers to include closed captions on their content as required by the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA).
The act makes TV networks legally responsible for providing closed captions on content streamed online if it has already been broadcast with closed captions on TV.
Confirmation of the deadline provided by the FCC had been postponed due to members of the Digital Media Association, which include media providers such as Apple, Amazon and Google, arguing that more time was needed to implement the requirements. However, the FCC pushed back and confirmed that TV networks and video sites must provide closed captions on their content — offline or online — by 30 September 2012.
Previously, disability advocates argued that the CVAA did not address the need for captions online, particularly for website-only businesses such as Netflix. But in June 2012, when the National Association of the Deaf successfully sued Netflix for failing to provide captions and therefore violating the Americans with a Disability Act (ADA), the relevance of the ADA and the CVAA to online videos was highlighted by the judge in his ruling (PDF, 133K).
However, the FCC said that TV content distributors were not required to provide the raw caption data to web video player providers, which would enable captions to be customised for better accessibility, including changing the font colour and size. This requirement has been postponed for 16 months.
The CVAA aims to address access legislation and policies as it applies to traditional forms of media and online media. Cases such as the Netflix suit prove the increasing need to review access legislation and policies in light of the changing media landscape.