New working group to assess DTV closed captions, video description

The FCC is setting up a technical working group to study digital closed captioning and video description to make TV programming accessible to people who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or have vision disabilities.

In announcing the effort May 1, the commission said the purpose of the group will be to assess technical issues related to closed captioning and video description for DTV and make technical recommendations to the commission’s Consumer Advisory Committee about how to resolve any problems.

The commission is directing the working group to identify potential problems with transmission and display of closed captions and video description, evaluate the ability of digital equipment regarding closed captions and video description, and find solutions to problems that arise to ensure viewers receive closed captions and video description intact.

The working group will consist of people from broadcast, cable, satellite and LEC video industries, manufacturers of consumer electronics, and manufacturers of equipment used to process or encode closed captions and video description, as well as consumers of closed captions and video description.

In making the announcement, the commission said it is anticipating the working group will find several closed caption and video description-related issues. Some of the potential problems include: missing or garbled captions on HD channels; high-definition set-top boxes stripping or garbling captions on HD channels; HDMI cables not passing captions; and VPD or station equipment not properly delivering captions when sources are converted from analog to digital.

The first meeting of the working group will be held May 18 at commission headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Phil Kurz

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.