As digital video continues to disrupt the traditional TV world, there are complications beyond just those affecting the business model.
The move of video to the Net also has caused problems for viewers who need captions. Whether deaf or hard of hearing, or speakers of an obscure language, it’s often difficult for these users to access online entertainment because there aren’t regulations requiring accurate, timely captions on digital content as on cable and broadcast.
But that’s starting to change, thanks to new regulations and community-based advocacy around the issue. Starting April 30, the Federal Communications Commission is requiring more accurate captioning on all online content. As part of the Closed Captioning of Video Programming legislation, Chairman Tom Wheeler and the FCC are requiring that digital video providers work toward more synchronous audio and captions throughout complete programs in a way that isn’t obstructed by any other information on the page. The mandate, 10 years in the making, will make programming on Netflix, Hulu and others more comprehensible for the deaf and hard of hearing.