Amazon accused of noncompliance with video captioning rules

Deaf and hard of hearing consumer groups accuse Amazon of not captioning streaming videos in compliance with the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act

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Recent captioning rates for online videos

Institute for Public Representation

If you’re one of the millions of Americans who are deaf or hard of hearing, choosing a video streaming service involves evaluating more than just cost and selection. You’re probably also concerned about the accessibility of their offerings; that is, whether their streaming videos are captioned. If so, you may be less likely to choose Amazon, based on a complaint recently filed with the FCC.

The complaint, filed by a number of consumer groups for the deaf or hard of hearing, allege that Amazon is in violation of online video captioning rules required by the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA). The CVAA sets a number of deadlines for making online (IP-delivered) video accessible, the first of which was September 30, 2012. Any pre-recorded video that was shown on television with captions on or after that date must also include closed captions if streamed. There are more deadlines in the coming months regarding the captioning of live and archival videos. 

The complaint against Amazon was based on a report filed with the FCC in late December that assessed initial compliance with the captioning rules following the September 30 deadline. The report looked at a sample of roughly 100 online videos that should have been captioned, across a variety of distribution platforms. In general, the results were promising: 82% of the videos reviewed did comply with the law, and in a number of cases, they found that video providers were going beyond the requirements and beginning to caption live and archival videos, well ahead of the later deadlines for captioning imposed by the CVAA.

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