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Subtitles and Closed Captions on Video Required By Law

Government laws require the provision of subtitles and closed captions on video yet many publishers continue to ignore this requirement. Subtitles provide equal access for all viewers. Demand that all publishers comply by refusing to use video that does not provide effective subtitles simply to cut costs.

The government has recognized the need for subtitles and important laws have been passed which mandate its availability.

These legal requirements include:

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 requires that state and local governments and private businesses (called “public accommodations”) ensure that individuals with disabilities are not excluded from or denied services because of the absence of auxiliary aids and services, such as captioning. Subtitles makes aural information accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Since the passage of the ADA, the use of subtitles and closed captioning has expanded. Entertainment, educational, informational, and training materials can be subtitled for deaf and hard of hearing audiences at the time they are produced (such as for pre-recorded materials) or when distributed (such as for live presentations).

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), enacted in 1975 and subsequently amended, continues to ensure that all children with disabilities have the right to receive a free, appropriate public education. Every child served by IDEA is required to have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that provides a blueprint for special education and related services, such as subtitles.

The Television Decoder Circuitry Act of 1990 requires that all televisions larger than 13 inches sold in the United States after July 1993 have a special built-in decoder that enables viewers to watch subtitled and closed-captioned programming.

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to adopt rules requiring subtitles and closed captioning of most television programming. Under the rules, 100 percent of all new, non-exempt English-language television programs must be subtitled and closed-captioned. Also, 75 percent of non-exempt English-language programs shown for the first time before January 1, 1998 must be subtitled.

The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 ensures the continued accessibility of video programming to Americans with disabilities as it migrates to the Internet. Specifically, any television program show with subtitles on television must retain those subtitles if it’s also shown on the Internet. In addition, this law tasks the FCC with creating subtitling and captioning rules for three types of television-like programming on the Internet: (1) pre-produced programming that was previously subtitled captioned for television viewing; (2) live television-like video programming; and (3) new programming provided by or generally considered to be comparable to programming provided by multi-channel programming distributors (such as cable or satellite subscription TV services).

Zane Education’s online visual learning solution provides the use of a comprehensive library of online curriculum-based educational video that is entirely subtitled. It is currently the only online learning company providing online video complying with these legal requirements.

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