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FCC Focuses on Hearing and Seeing Impaired

WASHINGTON: The Federal Communications Commission today said it is establishing a working group to study digital closed captioning and video description. The group will evaluate the technical issues associated with providing those services within digital television, including any problems with transmission and display.

Some of the issues plaguing DTV closed captioning are associated with high-def TV, including absent or garbled captions on HD feeds; HD set-tops that strip out closed captioning; and HDMI cables that don’t pass it through. Other problems that have popped up with standard-definition DTV include station equipment that can’t transmit upconverted captions; digital-to-analog converter boxes that can’t read the data in the station’s signal; overlapping or flashing captions; those that cover 95 percent of the screen in text mode; and difficult user interfaces.

Similar technical problems have occurred with video description services for the blind, which is not required by the FCC Voluntary provision is recommended, however.

The chief of the FCC’s Consumer and Government Affairs Bureau, Catherine Seidel, and the Office of Engineering and Technology head Julius Knapp will serve as co-chairs. With assistance from CGB’s Micheal Jacobs and Amelia Brown, and OET’s Alan Stillwell, Hugh Van Tuyl and Steve Martin.

Members include:
American Council of the Blind, Eric Bridges
Northern Virginia Resource Council for Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Hearing Loss
Association of America, Cheryl Heppner
National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) at WGBH-TV, Larry Goldberg
NAB, Graham Jones
NCTA, Andy Scott
Echostar, John Card
DirecTV, Robert Gabrielli
CBS, Bob Seidel
Comcast, Charlie Kennamer
National Captioning Institute (NCI), Marc Okrand
Motorola, Jeff Newdeck
Panasonic, Tony Jaisnowski, Panasonic
CaptionMax, Gerald Freda,
PBS, Stephen Scheel
Verizon, Jimmy Ho
Norpak, Bob Fitzgerald
VITAC, Tim Taylor
CEA, Brian Markwalter
LG, John Taylor
AT&T, Chris Boyer
Evertz Microsystems, Michael Kirouac
EEG, Phil McLaughlin
ABC, David Dreispan
FOX, Andy Setos
NBC, Greg DePriest
Speech Conversion Technologies, Gregory Schmidt