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Deadlines Set for Submitting Comments on Proposed Rules to Make Emergency Information on Television More Accessible to Individuals who are Blind or Visually Impaired

July 21, 2015
Source: Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

Comments Due: August 10, 2015
Reply Comments Due: September 8, 2015

On July 10, 2015, the FCC announced deadlines for the public to submit comments and reply comments on issues related to making emergency information on television more accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

Background. In 2013, the FCC adopted rules that require emergency information on television that appears visually during a non-news program (such as in a text crawl displayed during a regularly scheduled program) to be provided aurally on the secondary audio stream. These requirements stem from the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA).

Recent Rule Changes. In May 2015, the FCC expanded these rules.

  • The new rules require that manufacturers of equipment used to receive and play back television programming, such as set-top boxes, have a simple and easy-to-use mechanism to switch from the main program audio to the secondary audio stream to hear audible emergency information. The compliance deadline for this requirement is December 20, 2016.
  • In addition, the new rules require that emergency information be made accessible on a secondary audio stream on “second screens,” such as tablets, smartphones, laptops, and similar devices when subscription television providers, such as cable and satellite operators, permit subscribers to watch scheduled programming over their networks using an app on these devices. The compliance deadline for this requirement is July 10, 2017.
  • Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. In May 2015, the FCC also sought comments on related issues, including:

    • how to prioritize aural emergency information on the secondary audio stream when more than one source of visual information is presented on-screen at the same time;
    • whether to continue to require school closing information to be conveyed aurally on the secondary audio stream; and
    • whether to require subscription television providers, such as cable and satellite operators, to ensure that the devices and apps they provide to subscribers to watch scheduled programming over their networks include a simple and easy to use activation mechanism for accessing audible emergency information on the secondary audio stream.

    Due Dates for Comments.‎ Comments must be submitted by August 10, 2015, and reply comments must be submitted by September 8, 2015.

    The followings are links to the May 2015 Second Report and Order and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and to the July 2015 Public Notice announcing the deadlines for comments are reply comments.

    Second Report and Order and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking:

    PDF: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-15-56A1.pdf
    Text: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-15-56A1.txt

    Public Notice:

    Word: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-15-807A1.docx
    PDF: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-15-807A1.pdf
    Text: https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-15-807A1.txt

    For further information, contact Evan Baranoff, Media Bureau, at 202-418-7142 or e-mail Evan.Baranoff@fcc.gov.

    Link: Go to website for News Source
    https://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/disability-rights-office-headlines


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