VITAC Behind the Scenes: The Finance Department’s Accounting Assistants

Spotlighting the work of Fran Zvonkovich, Lori Faraoni, Donna Fraser, and Joyce Matthews in Accounting.

Last time we met, Todd Osleger gave us just a peak into his role as a Senior Offline Captioner at VITAC. This week, we travel downstairs to Accounting Lane for a look at the roles that Accounting Assistants Fran Zvonkovich, Lori Faraoni, Donna Fraser, and Joyce Matthews play in keeping invoices, work orders, purchase orders, and balances all in check (a little finance joke). We so appreciate all of the work the Finance Department does for the entire VITAC team, and we are glad we got a chance to know a little more about what they do day to day.

Accounting Assistants at Work for VITAC
Accounting Lane in all their financial glory (Lori, Donna, Joyce, and Fran) .
Lori(left) and Donna(right) take a break for a little photo op

Q: What is your official title?

A: Accounting Assistants

Q: Can you walk us through a normal day at VITAC for you as a member of the Finance Team?

A: Our days usually begin with e-mail– addressing needs/problems/concerns from our clients and sales departments.  From there, there is no such thing as a normal day.  We prioritize our work based on the client/salesperson needs and deadlines, etc.

The following is a list of jobs that our department undertakes each day.

  • Invoicing which includes sorting/distributing and imputing data into detail sheets used during month end billing
  • Weekly [Wednesday ASAP] batches for our special clients
  • Daily check deposits and cash applications
  • Running client credit cards to pay for invoices
  • Posting vendor invoices for payment
  • Getting approvals for accounts payables
  • Weekly check run which includes: printing, signing, matching them to the invoices and mailing
  • Researching current information on clients with past due balances for collection purposes
  • Ordering supplies
  • Greeting guests, answering phones and distributing mail

Q: What are some of your favorite parts about the job?

A:

  • Interacting with our co workers
  • Getting paid for past due invoices
  • Seeing some of the interesting titles on the work orders that pass our desks

Q: What are some of the most challenging parts of the job?

A: Month end billing and collections

Q:  What advice would you give to those just starting out in the field or to anyone who wants to become involved in the Finance field?

A: Have good stress and time management skills and be flexible with your schedule.

Q: What do you do in your spare time not spent at VITAC?

Fran:  Riding my horse [Arc Angel] and exercising: walking, Zumba and swimming

Donna:  Yoga and healthy cooking

Lori:  Spending time with her family

Joyce:  Walking my dog [Sydney] and exercising: Yoga, Acro Yoga and Pilates

VITAC Finance Department at work
Fran (right) and Joyce (left) pictured working on various projects.

So great to hear from you all! Just four more reasons, why VITAC is “simply the best” and our customers keep coming back! Take a closer look at Our Team here for more insights on the wonderful employees that VITAC is so lucky to have.

By: Tori Trimm

 

“Hear Me. See Me. Know Me.” — An inspiring video about living with disabilities

Deaf-Blind teen, Brittany Winkleman, inspires many with video of personal narrative.

Brittany, left, works with aid in the classroom.
Brittany, left, works with her aid in the classroom.

Differences are a crucial aspect of what makes our culture as rich as it is, and yet, at times, they can be the biggest barrier to easy living within it. Brittany Winkleman, 18, has been “different” since she was born. Being both deaf and blind, Brittany is no stranger to adversity when it comes to her own disabilities and the assumptions people make about her. Despite the challenges she has faced, Brittany, a dedicated student with a passion for digital media and graphic arts, has never subscribed to the notion that her disabilities will keep her from doing what she loves. As of the video, posted in May of 2015, Brittany was preparing to graduate and attend college in the fall.

In a touching and inspiring video titled “Hear me. See me. Know me.” that she made for her senior project, Brittany walks viewers through her journey, staring when she was just two months old, with poignant clarity and optimism. There are clips of classmates, teachers, and aids who have been an integral part in Brittany’s success. She also touches on her own struggles with her disabilities, and how she had to come to think of herself in relation to her fellow classmates.

Left: Brittany poses with fellow classmate.Right: Brittany at work in the production studio for her digital arts class.
Left: Brittany poses with fellow classmate. Right: Brittany at work in the production studio for her digital arts class.

 

In addition to her personal narrative, Brittany explains some of the technology and tools that help her overcome the obstacles that her low vision and hearing loss present. Winkleman says in the video, “I can do anything, but I have to do it differently”.  At VITAC, we are dedicated to providing services to people like Brittany the world over, and are proud to be able to contribute, in whatever way we can, to enabling those with disabilities to live their lives on their own terms, be it in a slightly different way. This story was brought through Described and Captioned Media Program, an organization  funded by the U.S. Department of Education and administered by the National Association of the Deaf whose mission is to “promote and provide equal access to communication and learning through described and captioned educational media”.  VITAC is a proud DCMP-approved caption vendor, and is thrilled that DCMP could provide a platform for Brittany to share her story.

Take a look at the video here made available with both audio description and closed captions through DCMP’s site.

Brittany leaves us with words to live by saying, “When you meet people who are like me, don’t assume they can’t do it, let them show you [they can]”.

Thank you, Brittany, for your powerful words, and we applaud your continued success.

By: Tori Trimm

Office of Civil Rights Ensures Website Accessibility

11 Educational Organizations Reach Settlements Over Web Accessibility Complaints

Keyboard Accessibility ButtonOn June 29th, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) announced that agreements had been reached with 11 different educational organizations in seven states and one territory, which had had complaints filed against them involving website accessibility. They were concerned with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of ADA—specifically with online services and programs. The settlements involved:

  • Juneau, Alaska, School District
  • Guam Department of Education
  • Montana School for the Deaf and Blind
  • Santa Fe, New Mexico, Public Schools
  • Washoe County, Nevada, School District
  • Davidson Academy of Nevada
  • Nevada Department of Education
  • Oregon Department of Education
  • Granite, Utah, School District
  • Bellingham, Washington, School District
  • The Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction

The most common problems included absence of alt text on critical images, navigation barring blind and low vision users from using the website (exclusively requiring mouse movement for access), color combinations that made text difficult to read, and inaccurately captioned videos. The complaints led to investigations for each cited organization.

The OCR did not complete these investigations as all 11 educational organizations expressed interest in resolving the cases voluntarily.  The resolutions look relatively similar, though the timelines for implementation of the agreed solutions differ slightly.

First and foremost, all parties must affirm their commitment  to ensuring that people with disabilities have opportunities equal to those of others to enjoy the websites’ programs, services, and activities, especially those delivered online.

9 of the 11 organizations are then required to perform a full audit of their website to assess any and all barriers to use for visitors with disabilities. Both Bellingham School District and Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Institution are not required to audit their websites. They are permitted to internally assess the site and report on proposed changes.

Following the audit, the steps are as follows:

  • Create policies and procedures that ensure accessibility for all newly developed site content.
  • Format all new website content and functionality to be accessible to people with disabilities
  • Form a plan for prioritizing and correcting all current barriers to accessibility on the site
  • Post a notice to those with disabilities instructing how to request access to online information or functionality that is currently inaccessible
  • Implement and consistently provide website accessibility training to any and all appropriate personnel

Read the full press release here.

These settlements are a huge win for the world of accessibility and will hopefully set a precedent for organizations (especially those in educational fields) to make web accessibility a priority.  As our world becomes all the more dependent on websites and online databases as a primary source of information and content, accessibility becomes all the more necessary.

To read more about the policies currently in place to protect the rights on those with disabilities, check our regulations page. For more updates coming out of the accessibility circuit, visit VITAC’s Accessibility News blog page!

By: Tori Trimm
 Intersection: Websites and Accessibility

 

 

Discovery Shark Week 2016: Captions by VITAC

VITAC Captions Discovery Shark Week

VITAC Captioning Shark Week_2016

Adrenaline, frantic swimming, fins, jaws, and… captions? That’s right, it’s officially the best week of the year: Shark Week 2016 on the Discovery Channel, and it’s captioned from start to finished by VITAC!

Shark week kicked off on Sunday with original programming, Tiger Beach, The Return of Monster Mako, and Isle of Jaws, which chronicled the discovery of a concentration of only male sharks off of an uncharted island. The sharks had completely disappeared from the group of Neptune Islands in Australia. Could this finding have had something to do with it?

Last night’s programming got a little more terrifying with shows such as Shallow Water Invasion, and Jaws of the Deep. Sharks Among Us, the third program shownshowcased a system developed by Dr. Craig O’Connell for humans and sharks to live in harmony.

Be sure to tune back in tonight at 9/8c for Wrath of a Great White Serial Killer and Air Jaws: Night Stalker immediately following at 10/9c. And be sure not to miss Shark After Dark at 11/10c where film writer, director and producer Eli Roth and guests discuss highlights of Shark Week after each night’s programming.

Be certain not to miss a word of any spine-tingling, thrilling moment… turn the closed captions on!

For the rest of Discovery’s Shark Week program schedule, visit their official Shark Week 2016 TV Schedule.

By Brittany Bender

VITAC’s M-Enabling Takeaways and Wrap-Up

VITAC Learns New About New Technologies, Opportunities and Challenges in the World of Accessible Media

Banner

Our blog post last week was just a preview of the M-Enabling Summit in Washington, DC held June 13-14, and attended by VITAC VP of Marketing Heather York, and Marketing Analyst Brittany Bender.

In Monday’s keynote address, Karen Peltz Strauss, Deputy Chief, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, introduced Sen. Ed Markey (D.-Mass), “because of his work, we are in a place where  ability is no longer an afterthought.”

As discussed in last week’s post, Senator Markey discussed about 25 years ago, the ADA required physical ramps to be placed on curbs for wheelchairs, and it ended up helping everybody from parents with baby strollers to delivery people with carts. He noted similarities between these regulations and online media accessibility  and even referred to them as, “online ramps.” If everything online is made accessible, it will end up helping everyone. This was a theme throughout the summit.

The first parallel session of the day was Media on the Internet: Accessibility Challenges and Opportunities. Panelists included:

  • Chet Cooper, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, ABILITY Magazine
  • Peter Korn, Accessibility Architect, Amazon Lab126,
  • Mike Paciello, Founding Partner, The Paciello Group and WebAble.TV
  • Joel Snyder, Ph.D., President, Audio Description Associates LLC
  • Claude Stout, Executive Director, Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (TDI).
Web Accessibility_1
Joel Snyder, Ph.D., President, Audio Description Associates LLC weighs in on web accessibility online.

While many opportunities for accessibility were discussed such as captioning and audio description, the challenges and potential solutions were prominent. One of the challenges noted by Mike Paciello was that, “there’s absolutely no value proposition for accessibility.”

A solution proposed by the panel was to pressure companies and schools to make everything accessible, so that pricing for these services could come down. Another solution was to make accessibility mandated, but Peter Korn from Amazon pointed out that, “The problem with laws is that they only get us to minimums.”

The next parallel session attended by VITAC was 21st Century CVAA Scorecard, and panelists included:

  • Zainab Alkebsi, Esq., Policy Counsel, National Association of the Deaf (NAD)
  • Mark Balsano, Executive Director, Corporate Accessibility Technology Office (CATO), AT&T
  • Eric Bridges, Executive Director, American Council of the Blind (ACB)
  • Matthew Gerst, Director, Regulatory Affairs, CTIA
  • Lise Hamlin, Director of Public Policy, Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA)
  • Paul Schroeder, Vice President, Programs and Policy Group, American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)
  • Session chair Karen Peltz Strauss, FCC

“The question is has the CVAA been effective? The short answer is yes,” said Eric Bridges. There was discussion of the successes of the CVAA such as the captioning rules for television programming when delivered via IP.

M-Enabling_CVAA Scorecard Session_VITAC
Eric Bridges, Executive Director, American Council of the Blind (ACB) speaking at the CVAA Scorecard session.

The day wrapped up with the FCC Chairman’s Awards for Advancements in Accessibility, presented by FCC Chariman Tom Wheeler.

These awards honor “outstanding private and public sector ventures that advance accessibility for persons with disabilities. Ventures include mainstream or assistive technologies introduced into the marketplace, development of standards, and implementation of best practices that foster accessibility.”

Tom Wheeler_FCC Chairman
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler giving short keynote before the awards for accessibility and innovation.

Winners included:

  • SOS QR – an Emergency Support App for People with Cognitive Disabilities
  • UnusTactus – App Simplifies Smartphones for People with Cognitive Disabilities
  • Wearable Sign Language Recognition System Prototype Interprets Motions and Displays Text
  • Disney’s Movies Anywhere App – Syncs Audio Description with Film Action
  • Sesame Enable – Users Can Engage Smartphone Controls with Head Gestures
  • eSight Eyewear – Headset with Videocam to Help People with Low Vision
  • Honorable Mention: Convo Announce – Allows Video and Text through PA System Announcements
  • Honorable Mention: KNFB Reader – App Reads Documents Using Smartphone Camera
  • Honorable Mention: Holy Braille Project – Researches Solutions for Low-Cost Braille Display Tablets.
FCC Chairman Award winners
FCC Chairman Award Winners Pictured with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and Deputy Chief, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, FCC Karen Peltz Strauss

Tuesday’s plenary panel was Aging in Place: Innovations for Lifelong Digital Access and focused on accessibility for an aging population and new technologies and innovations to keep up.

The session chair was Andrew Johnson, Managing VP, Gartner Research.  Panelists included:

  • Nancy LeaMond, Chief Advocacy and Engagement Officer, AARP
  • Amy VanDeVelde, National Connections Program Manager, The OASIS Institute
  • Marc Zablatsky, VP and General Manager, Ai Squared.
Aging In Place_M-Enabling
Aging in Place session at 2016 M-Enabling Summit

This session really drove the point that currently, there are 600 million people over 60 years old and the first sense that people begin to lose is their hearing. The aging population is only going to continue to grow. By 2043, Baby Boomers, Gen X’ers, and Millennials will all be collecting social security.

In the first VITAC-attended parallel session of the day, Global Status of Inclusive Technology in Higher Education, Compliance and Good Practices was chaired by Amy Goldman, Co-Director and Associate Professor, Institute on Disabilities, Temple University, and accessibility issues in universities and colleges all around the world were highlighted.

Panelists included:

  • Joy Kniskern, Strategic Initiatives, AMAC Accessibility Solutions, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Zerrin Ondin, Ph.D., Research Analyst, AMAC Accessibility Solutions, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Carolyn Phillips, Director, Tools for Life, AMAC Accessibility Solutions, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Licia Sbattella, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Accessibility/Natural Language Processing and President’s Delegate for Disability, Politecnico di Milano (G3ict Education Task Force Chair) (Italy)
M-Enabling 2016
One of the higher education sessions at M-Enabling 2016

It was in this session that it was pointed out that universities have a set of rules, guidelines, and regulations regarding accessibility to help achieve a level of standards so that all individuals are able to learn in these institutions.

Other sessions attended by VITAC included Global Opportunities for Real Time Text, Inclusive Higher Education Forum, New Tech Enablers for Accessible Learning Tools, and Roadmap towards Equal Access in Higher Education.

Heather and Brittany also had the opportunity to explore some of the exhibits, one of which was a demo of Amazon’s Alexa, a voice-operation system that makes a lot of Amazon media and tasks accessible for blind and low-vision individuals.

Amazon_M-Enabling
Amazon’s Display at M-Enabling 2016

VITAC is dedicated to staying at the forefront of accessible media solutions and technology. By attending conferences such as M-Enabling, there is an opportunity to network and collaborate with other like-minded professionals to work together to achieve accessibility for all.

By Brittany Bender

VITAC hits DC for the 2016 M-Enabling Summit

 M-Enabling Summit 2016

VITAC attends the 2016 M-Enabling Summit for Accessibility

Over the last two days, VITAC’s Heather York, VP of Marketing, and Brittany Bender, Marketing Analyst, have been in our nation’s capital to attend the conference and showcase dedicated to providing accessible technology solutions for all. They have been gaining much insight that will help VITAC remain at the forefront of accessibility.

In one of the first speeches of the conference yesterday morning, Keynote Speaker, U.S. Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts said, ” Twenty years ago the ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] required physical ramps be placed on curbs for wheelchairs, and it ended up helping everybody. What’s happening now can be looked at as online ramps.” Online accessibility must be a priority; VITAC is dedicated to that initiative, and is so excited to be participating in M-Enabling.

Stay tuned for a comprehensive look into the summit coming next week! For now, check out a few pictures from their experience so far.

M-Enabling Summit 2016 Flight
A beautiful flight into the city with a greeting from the Washington Monument!
Panels for M-Enabling Summit 2016
Left: Monday’s afternoon session focusing on the CVAA (21st Century Communication and Video Accessibility Act).
Right: Monday’s early session concerning internet accessibility–both its challenges and its opportunities!
M-Enabling 2016
When in Rome! (or DC)
A view of the Washington Monument and a quick stop at the White House–two unmistakable landmarks– provide the perfect backdrop for the universality of the conference!

 

Stop by next week for more updates! While here, feel free to look out our regulations page to learn more about some of the crucial pieces of legislation that protect the rights of those who rely upon accessible technology solutions.

By: Tori Trimm

VITAC Behind the Scenes: Senior Offline Captioner Todd Osleger

Behind the Scenes with Senior Offline Captioner Todd Osleger

VITAC Offline Captioner Todd  Osleger

 

In the closed captioning industry and at VITAC, there is always something happening Behind the Scenes!

This week, on the heels of our look into our Systems Support Specialist, David Rosales‘s day to day operations, we focus in on the faces (and fingers) behind our offline services.  Offline captioning requires incredible attention to detail whether it concerns spelling, grammar, timing, or style. With VITAC being the exclusive provider of offline captioning for prerecorded programming on over 25 television networks, we expect and receive nothing short of excellence. We took a moment to speak with Senior Offline Captioner Todd Osleger to get some inside information about the world of offline captioning. Here’s what he had to say:

 

Q: Can you walk us through a normal day at VITAC for you as an offline captioner?

Todd: Sure.  First, we get our assignments, which could vary widely, and then we get to work.  Sometimes you spend your shift working on one project; other times you end up doing multiple programs, possibly splitting shows with co-workers, all the while completing on-demand spots that arrive daily.  Regardless of the show, we essentially spend our time transcribing the audio and/or timing the captions to pre-recorded videos.

Q: What are some of your favorite parts about the job?

Todd: I’d say my favorite part is the variety of programs we do.  From animated shorts to sports to sitcoms to feature-length movies to [gulp] reality shows, no day is ever the same.  And while it’s mostly a solitary job, when you do get the opportunity to work with others, you realize there are some cool people here, too.  Having ticket raffles and supportive supervisors are appreciated, as well.

Q: What are some of the most challenging parts of the job?

Todd: Tight deadlines always force you to increase your focus.  And when you encounter difficult audio (unique sounds, puns, numbers, et cetera), you have to figure out how best to faithfully express that to a hearing-impaired person.  Also, any fast-paced dialogue or music will present a challenge to represent properly.

Q: You’re a senior captioner. What advice would you give to those just starting out in the field or to anyone who wants to become an offline captioner?

Todd: Know your grammar!  Proper spelling and good grammar are the foundations for accurately translating audio for a hearing-impaired viewer.  Also, use common sense and be a good listener.  If a word doesn’t sound right in a certain circumstance, it probably isn’t right.

Q: What are some of your favorite types of programs to work on?

Todd: Well, any sitcom, drama, or movie (new or old) is always fun to do.  And I enjoy working on sports documentaries or on anything by NFL Films.

Q: What do you do in your spare time not spent at VITAC?

Todd: As any parent will admit, there is no spare time when you have children!  Raising my two kids and creating great memories for our family occupy most of my time outside of work.  I get much fulfillment from that.  I also enjoy concerts, listening to classic rock, and reading good books.

 

Learn more about our incredible team members both in our Behind the Scenes blog series, and on our team’s page.

By: Tori Trimm

VITAC Behind the Scenes: Systems Support Specialist David Rosales

Behind the Scenes with Systems Support Specialist David Rosales

 

Systems Support Specialist David Rosales

 

Welcome back to Behind the Scenes: a blog series dedicated to shedding some light on the many faces that make up the VITAC team and help contribute to our “no worries” attitude.  Last week, we met up with Multi-Language Services (MLS) Project Coordinator Dana Kerkentzes to get an inside look at the MLS Department’s impressive contributions here at VITAC.

This week, we shift the spotlight to the Systems and Engineering Department. Day to day operations require our sophisticated technological infrastructure to preform at 100%. When it comes to making sure our services meet the highest standards of quality and efficacy that both our clients and we expect, VITAC knows we can rely on our Systems staff , averaging over 10 years of industry experience, to provide the best support possible. This week’s Behind the Scenes post focuses on Systems Support Specialist, David Rosales.

Q: Can you walk us through a normal day at VITAC for you as a Systems Support Specialist?

David: As a Systems Support Specialist, I commonly troubleshoot various issues such as Internet connections, Hardware, Software, as well as Setup and configure new setups for both in-house and remote employees.

Q: What are some of your favorite parts about the job?

David: My favorite aspect of this job is the fact that I am able to actively work with various departments, which enables me to not only observe how this company operates from several different perspectives, but to better understand and troubleshoot issues that may arise.

Q: What are some of the most challenging parts of the job?

David: One of the more challenging aspects of this job would be the fact that I am more often than not, troubleshooting issues for multiple departments at any given time. Time management is most definitely a critical component of my position.

Q:  What advice would you give to those just starting out in the field or to anyone who wants to become a Systems Support Specialist?

David:   Regardless of what position you have, or what position you hope to obtain within VITAC, the most important advice in my opinion would be to set clear goals for yourself, both long and short term. All too often, people do not have a clear path that they are striving towards, which not only affects their potential career advancement, but also affects their psyche as they do not feel like they are accomplishing much. Set long term goals for what you ultimately would like to accomplish for yourself, and set short term goals which steer you towards that path.

Q: What are some of your favorite types of issues to work on?

David: Any Windows related issues are normally what I prefer to work on. It is my forte and I find myself learning something new almost every time.

Q: What do you do in your spare time not spent at VITAC?

David: One of my favorite hobbies is to read. Not until fairly recently did I realize how important it is to read and learn as much as possible. Some of my recent books I’ve read include (among many others):

  • Blue Ocean Strategy
  • The Richest Man in Babylon
  • Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Check out more of our team here, and feel free to explore the rest of the Behind the Scenes posts!

By: Tori Trimm

VITAC Behind the Scenes: MLS Project Coordinator Dana Kerkentzes

Behind The Scenes with Dana Kerkentzes

We’ve decided to bring back our popular Behind the Scenes blog series. Last Summer, we left off with Multi-Language Specialist and Spanish Supervisor Chris Hyde. VITAC’s Multi-Language Subtitling team are experts at translation and the creation of subtitles in over 50 languages for niche customers.

Our highly skilled Multi-Language team includes EML (English Master Lists) Experts, translators, QC experts, and reviewers.

We start our series back up with Multi-Language Services (MLS) Project Coordinator Dana Kerkentzes. Dana took a few minutes out of her busy day to shed some light on her VITAC experience in our MLS department.

Q: You’re a valuable member of our MLS team. Walk us through a typical day for you in the office.

Dana: My day starts normally, by reading through emails to get caught up on all our ongoing projects. But from there it can go in any direction! Some days my main focus may be getting a new project out to all our translators, reviewing the translated files, transcribing/timing new EML (English Master List) files, the list goes on! All while keeping up with requests from other departments!

There’s always a lot to work on and to keep me busy!

Q: What are your favorite parts about working in MLS?

Dana: I love that I’m always learning here! Not only do I learn about the many different languages we work with (Did you know that there is a Nigerian language called Igbo? Or that Arabic is read right to left, instead of left to right?), but I also learn a lot just by working on the many different documentaries and other projects we get in from clients.

Q: What are some of the most challenging aspects of your job?

Dana: I used to be the type of person who could keep a calendar in her head, but that’s not possible with this job. I’d definitely it’s been a challenge to find ways to keep myself organized, but one I’d say I’m beginning to master, so I’m able to stay on top of our varying project deadlines.

Q: What do you like most about working at VITAC?

Dana: Well, let me first say that I started at VITAC as a Production Coordinator in the Realtime department, then moved to MLS a few years later. I love that I still feel like a part of the Realtime crew (Once a coord, always a coord, right!?), but that I’ve also been welcomed into the MLS family. So I guess what I like most is that I am able to work for a company where I can look forward to coming to work and being surrounded by good, happy people. Not everywhere is like that, and we’re lucky to have that here.

Q: What do you do in your spare time not spent at VITAC?

Dana: When I’m not at VITAC, I can usually be found in the saddle. I have a 7-year-old Quarter Horse mare named Pretzel that I board at a nearby stable. We spend many hours together with friends out on the trails or competing locally in western events at small open shows.

By Brittany Bender

 

FCC To Possibly Extend Audio Description Rules

FCC Releases Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Expanding Audio Description Rules

FCC_AudioDescription

Have you heard the buzz about audio description?

Audio description offers blind and low-vision audiences the opportunity to enjoy television or film programming. It is a narrative description of onscreen actions, visual cues such as characters and
costumes, and text appearing in graphics or the video. The track can be found on a secondary audio channel available on most television sets, accessible through the television’s menu.

Our last blog post focused on a settlement in which Netflix agreed to describe its popular streaming content and DVD rentals.

More big changes could soon be coming  to the world of audio description, or as it is often referred to, video description.

Currently, The FCC requires audio description on some television programming as mandated by the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. Networks and programmers are required to describe and pass through description of at least 50 hours of described prime-time or children’s programming each quarter.

ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox and the top five nonbroadcast networks need to comply with the requirement in the top 25 markets (ranked by Nielsen based on their total number of television households).

The FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on April 1, 2016 that would expand the requirements for audio description in the following ways:

  • An increase in the requirement of audio description from 50 hours per quarter to 87.5 hours per quarter by the broadcast station or Mutlichannel Video Programming Distributor (MVPD).
  • An increase in the number of included networks required to audio describe from the four broadcast and five nonbroadcast networks to five broadcast and 10 nonbroadcast networks.
  • A no-backsliding rule, which ensures that once a network is classified  as an “included network” required to provide description, it will remain an “included network” even if it falls out of the top five broadcast or top 10 network rankings.
  • Removal of the current “threshold requirement” that nonbroadcast networks reach 50 % of MVPD households in order to be included in the description requirements.
  • A requirement that included networks provide dedicated customer service contacts who can answer questions and concerns about audio description.
  • A requirement that petitions for exemptions from the description requirements, or objections to those petitions, be filed with the FCC electronically.

The expansion of the audio description requirements would have a positive effect on the millions of people who rely on this service for the enjoyment of television.

Kathryn M. Zodrow in her comment to the FCC said, “Having video description now is very beneficial for me as a totally blind person because now I don’t have to rely on someone else that’s sighted explain to me what is happening on the screen.”

“…I want to point out that the population using the audio description service, the blind and visually impaired, and autistic and dyslexic populations among others, are consumers too,” said Bonnie J. Barlow in her statement to the commission.

In his remarks to the Commission, Micah Grossman stated, “…every outlet available should be made as accessible is possible so that the audience this service is intended for actually can experience and enjoy it. Further they should be able to enjoy their favorite programs with the freedom and availability that sighted users now take for granted.”

Stay tuned to our website and blog for updates as more develops in the commission making the NPRM an official ruling.

VITAC is proud to offer audio description services to both networks and producers.  Contact us for more information on how to make your programming accessible for all.

By Brittany Bender