Is Closed Captioning Required by Law: The Legal Side of CC

Is Closed Captioning Required by Law

A Complete Guide to Is Closed Captioning Required by Law?

Closed captioning is a critical accessibility feature that provides written text of the audio content in videos and broadcasts, allowing individuals with hearing impairments to follow along. 

Many businesses and organizations recognize the importance of closed captioning in creating an inclusive environment, but is it actually required by law? 

This article explores the legal requirements for closed captioning and discusses its implications for businesses and content creators. 

Whether you are a business owner, content producer, or simply interested in accessibility rights, read on to understand the legal landscape surrounding closed captioning.

The Legal Obligation for Closed Captioning

Is Closed Captioning Required by Law? The Legal Obligations

The most important law governing closed captioning is the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s Closed Captioning Rules. 

These rules require that all new, non-exempt, English language video programming that is distributed on television in the United States must be captioned. This includes programming on broadcast television, cable television, and satellite television.

The FCC’s closed captioning rules also apply to certain types of online video content. For example, all online video that is previously broadcast on television with captions must also include captions when it is delivered through internet-based video streaming services.

If Closed Captioning Required by Law, Who Provides It?

The FCC’s closed captioning rules apply to a wide range of entities, including:

  • Broadcasters
  • Satellite distributors
  • Video programming producers
  • Video programming distributors
  • Online video distributors
  • Cable operators

In addition to the FCC’s closed captioning rules, there are also a number of other laws that may require closed captioning for certain types of content. 

For example, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that public accommodations, such as movie theaters and restaurants, provide closed captioning for live events.

Navigating the Legal Landscape of Closed Captioning

The legal landscape of closed captioning can be complex. It is important to consult with an attorney to determine if your organization is required to provide closed captioning for a particular type of content.

There are also a number of resources available to help organizations comply with closed captioning requirements. 

For example, the FCC provides a website with information about its closed captioning rules and regulations. There are also a number of private companies that offer closed captioning services.

By providing closed captioning, organizations can ensure that their content is accessible to people with disabilities. This can help to create a more inclusive environment and promote equal opportunity for all.

Closed Captioning Solutions in Compliance with the Law

CC Solutions in Compliance with the Regulations

There are a number of different closed captioning solutions available that can help organizations comply with the law. These solutions range from manual closed captioning to automated closed captioning.

Manual closed captioning is the process of transcribing the audio of a program and then entering that transcription into a closed captioning file. This is a time-consuming and labor-intensive process, but it is the most accurate way to create closed captions.

Automated closed captioning uses software to transcribe the audio of a program and then generate closed captions. This is a faster and more cost-effective way to create closed captions than manual closed captioning, but it is not as accurate.

The best closed captioning solution for an organization will depend on a number of factors, including the budget, the volume of content that needs to be captioned, and the accuracy requirements.

So, Is Closed Captioning Required by Law?

The answer to this question is yes, closed captioning is required by law in certain cases, and there are captioning guidelines as well. However, it is important to consult with an attorney to determine if your organization is specifically required to provide closed captioning for a particular type of content.

By providing closed captioning, organizations can ensure that their content is accessible to people with disabilities. This can help to create a more inclusive environment and promote equal opportunity for all.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Who pays for closed captioning?

Closed captioning is typically paid for by the video programming distributor (VPD), which is the company that delivers the video content to viewers, such as a cable company, satellite provider, or streaming service. The VPD is responsible for paying for the captioning services, as well as for ensuring that the captions are accurate and meet the required standards.

Is it illegal to not have closed captioning?

Yes, it is illegal to not have closed captioning on certain types of video content in the United States. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires closed captioning on all television programs that are broadcast or cablecast, as well as on pre-recorded videos that are distributed to the public. There are some exceptions to this rule, such as live sporting events and news broadcasts, but in general, all video content that is accessible to the public must have closed captioning.

When did closed captioning become a law?

Closed captioning was first mandated by the FCC in 1990. The FCC’s Closed Captioning of Video Programming Rule requires that all television programs that are broadcast or cablecast must be closed captioned. This rule was updated in 2016 to clarify the responsibilities of video programmers and distributors, and to improve the quality of closed captions.

Who needs closed captioning?

Closed captioning is used by people who are deaf or hard of hearing to access the audio content of video. It is also used by people who are learning English as a second language, and by people who have difficulty understanding the audio due to background noise or other factors.

What are the ADA standards for closed captioning?

The ADA standards for closed captioning are set by the FCC. These standards specify the technical requirements for closed captions, such as the font size, color, and timing. They also specify the content of closed captions, such as the need to include speaker identification and sound effects.

Why do some channels not have closed captioning?

There are a few reasons why some channels may not have closed captioning. One reason is that the channel may not be required to have closed captioning. For example, live sporting events and news broadcasts are exempt from the FCC’s closed captioning mandate. Another reason is that the channel may not have the resources to provide closed captioning. This is often the case with smaller, independent channels.

Do all movies have closed captioning?

Not all movies have closed captioning. However, most movies that are released in theaters are required to have closed captioning. This is because the movie theaters are considered to be video programming distributors, and they are subject to the FCC’s closed captioning mandate. There are some exceptions to this rule, such as foreign language films and films that are shown at festivals or special events.

Who is responsible for closed-captioning?

The responsibility for closed-captioning depends on the type of video content. For television programs that are broadcast or cablecast, the video programmer is responsible for providing the closed captions. For prerecorded videos that are distributed to the public, the distributor is responsible for providing the closed captions.

Is closed captioning required for streaming services?

Yes, closed captioning is required for streaming services in the United States. The FCC’s closed captioning mandate applies to all video programming distributors, including streaming services. This means that all streaming services must provide closed captioning on all video content that they offer, including original programming, licensed content, and user-generated content.

What are the rules for video captioning?

The rules for video captioning are set by the FCC. These rules specify the technical requirements for closed captions, such as the font size, color, and timing. They also specify the content of closed captions, such as the need to include speaker identification and sound effects. The FCC’s rules for video captioning can be found on their website.

Summary on Is Closed Captioning Required by Law

In summary, closed captioning is required by law in certain situations. 

The Americans with Disabilities Act mandates that all public accommodations, including businesses and government agencies, provide closed captions for any audiovisual content that is available to the public. 

Additionally, the Federal Communications Commission requires closed captioning for television programs and certain online video content. 

To ensure compliance with these laws and to make your content accessible to all individuals, it is imperative to provide closed captions.

Read: Why is Closed Captioning Censored? A Professional Analysis Overview.

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