VITAC Celebrates the Enactment of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act

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President Obama signs law today requiring expanded video description services, Internet captioning, and universal access.

Screen Shot of Captioned "Superman" Video on YouTube

Our nation’s deaf and hard-of-hearing community will now have access to entertainment and content previously unavailable to them. This is a huge step forward, and we are happy to do our part.” - Pat Prozzi, President of VITAC

VITAC, the nation's leading closed captioning company, joins millions of advocates and Americans with sensory disabilities in celebrating passage of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, to be signed into law today by President Obama.

The legislation requires that closed captioned television programs maintain their captioning when distributed over the Internet and also restores video description requirements, among other provisions.

VITAC is very pleased with enactment of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act,” said Pat Prozzi, President of VITAC. “Our nation’s deaf and hard-of-hearing community will now have access to entertainment and content previously unavailable to them. This is a huge step forward.”

The passage of this legislation is the result of over five years of cooperation between advocates, industry, and business representing multiple disabilities and services. The Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT) organized and spearheaded the effort. VITAC is an active member of COAT.

“This is a major milestone in accessibility history,” said Jenifer Simpson, COAT co-founder and co-chair. “The new law will ensure more people with disabilities will not be left behind in our digital communications world."

Effects of the legislation can already be seen, with captions being added to more online programming daily. In June, NBC’s "Today" started airing captions - referred to as "subtitles" - on MSNBC.com. VITAC provides captioning for "Today."

“The MSNBC Digital Network was the first major news site to offer full video transcripts and closed captioning on the majority of the video available,” said Charlie Tillinghast, President and Publisher of the MSNBC Digital Network.

"This law ensures that people who are deaf or hard of hearing can watch online programming with everyone else," says Arielle Schacter, creator of the popular bf4life-hearing website, an online community/blog for teens who are deaf or hard of hearing. "Breaking down the barriers between the hearing world and the non-hearing world will help teens fit in with their friends. No one needs to feel different and no should have to, especially when the problem is easy to solve."

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Heather York
VITAC
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