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Movie Mom

Closed Captioning Urged for Online Series

posted by Nell Minow

As more original content is being created for the web, deaf and hard of hearing audiences are urging producers to include closed captions. The Washington Post reports:

Last year, President Obama signed into law the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, requiring that captioned television shows must be captioned online. But there’s a loophole: The law does not require original online programming to be captioned.

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The story reports on grass roots efforts to persuade producers and distributors of online content to include closed captions through social media and some lawsuits against Time Warner and Netflix, charging discrimination.  There is a petition calling on Netflix to improve and expand their closed captioning and search functions.

My dad, Newton Minow, was one of those who fought for closed captioning of television shows, in part because his older brother was hard of hearing but mostly because he has always worked for choice and accessibility.  The networks objected for years.  But once forced to comply, it turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to them because the captions are what make it possible for TIVO and DVRs to find the shows they record.

Earlier this year, Regal and Cinemark made a commitment to full captioning in their movie theaters by the end of 2012.  Netflix and the producers of web series should do the same.

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