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The New Web Series Captioning Trend

Posted on: 4/4/2014 1:14:15 PM under Blog 


Given the new round of FCC captioning standards that entered into the National Register this week, it is little surprise that an increasing number of web series producers are electing to caption their web-only content. Though web-only series that have never aired on broadcast TV are not required by law to be captioned, one can only expect that just such legislation is around the corner. However, legal obligation is hardly the only reason to caption video content: captioning a web series not only makes your content accessible to over 50 million Americans who are hard of hearing or deaf, but also improves the SEO results for your videos, making them more likely to appear more often in a Google search. Captions also lend a professional quality to your content, similar to that of a broadcast TV production.

Captioning advocate Jamie Berke has established a website for the very purpose of encouraging web series' producers to caption. The site directs deaf and hard of hearing web viewers to content that is captioned by a YouTube ready vendor -- not the automatic captions of YouTube -- and is therefore accessible. As an additional benefit, the site celebrates web series that have elected to caption their web content by providing them with free promotional material. "Web TV captioning is not the future. It is now," said Jamie.

VITAC is participating in the new web-series captioning push, as well. We have the capability to caption any web platform that supports captioning, including YouTube and Vimeo. Tune in next week when we will publish a captioned sample of the indie web series Oh, Liza.



Archived Content Deadline This Sunday

Posted on: 3/28/2014 2:25:18 PM under Blog 


In just two days, on March 30, the next component of the Closed Captioning of Internet Protocol-Delivered Video Programming implementation of the Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) goes into effect. This time, the mandate involves archived programming for the web.

The report and order released on March 30, 2012, states that on March 30, 2014:

"All programming that is subject to the new requirements and is already in the [Video Programming Distributor's] library before it was shown on television with captions must be captioned within 45 days after it is shown on television with captions."

In other FCC update news, the recent decisions regarding caption quality standards entered the national registry yesterday, meaning that in due time (yet to be announced), the new caption quality standards will go into effect. 



Captioning Trivia: Results!

Posted on: 3/21/2014 3:58:27 PM under Blog 


Last week we asked fans of the blog to put their captioning knowledge to the test in our first-ever captioning trivia challenge. This week, we reveal the answers! Check them out below, or if you haven't taken the quiz yet, look at the post from last week before you read the answers.

1. The first captioned news broadcast was captioned live by a trained stenographer just over 40 years ago.

Correct answer: B) FALSE. The first captioned news broadcast was captioned offline (like most prerecorded programming) in just under four hours, by a crew of five people. The live broadcast occurred at 6pm and The Captioned ABC News aired at 10 -- in between, the entire broadcast had to be captioned.

2. A standard line of roll-up captioning can hold up to how many characters?

Correct answer: C) 32. Though the length of the line can be adjusted according to client specifications, a standard line of roll-up captioning that uses all the available space holds 32 characters.

3. "Open captioning" is the same thing as "subtitling."

Correct answer: B) FALSE. Open captions are "burned" into the picture and cannot be toggled on and off. Subtitles can be turned on and off, and are generally intended for use by hearing audiences who may not understand the language being spoken. As such, subtitles do not include sound effects.

4. A Realtime Captioner's steno machine, which he or she uses to "write" realtime programming, has how many keys?

Correct answer: B) 22. Unlike a standard keyboard for a computer, a steno machine has 22 keys, which the Captioner presses simultaneously in specific combinations to produce syllables, rather than individual characters.

Tune in next week for an important reminder about CVAA captioning regulations that go into effect on March 30, 2014.



Closed Captioning Trivia!

Posted on: 3/14/2014 4:27:15 PM under Blog 


Everyone knows that captioning is federally mandated for programming on all broadcast networks and much of the video content on the web. But how much do you really know about captioning? Take the first-ever captioning trivia challenge to find out!

1. The first captioned news broadcast was captioned live by a trained stenographer just over 40 years ago.




2. A standard line of roll-up captioning can hold up to how many characters?

A) 22

B) 28

C) 32

D) 36


3. "Open captioning" is the same thing as "subtitling."




4. A Realtime Captioner's steno machine, which he or she uses to "write" realtime programming, has how many keys?

A) 10

B) 22

C) 26

D) None -- all realtime captioning is done by voice recognition software.


How'd you do? Post your answers in the comments section, or just check back next week for the answers!



FCC Releases Order on Caption Quality

Posted on: 3/7/2014 12:29:11 PM under FCC Caption Quality Best Practices 


On February 20, 2014, the FCC announced the most dramatic changes to caption standards since the CVAA passed in 2010. The Report and Order, released on February 24th, comes ten years after the issue of caption quality was raised by Telecommunications for the Deaf, Inc, and mandates specific practices for program providers, distributors, caption companies and captioners.   VITAC representatives Heather York, VP Marketing, and Amy Bowlen, Manager of Realtime Training, took an active role in collaborating with industry representatives and establishing which proposed modifications were most urgent.

Below are some of the most notable best practices established in this meeting:

-To be accurate, captions must reflect not only the dialogue, but also sounds and music to the fullest extent possible. Accurate captions must also identify the speaker.

-Captions may not cover significant on-screen images, including important graphics and character faces.

-All new on-demand programming must be captioned, whether English, Spanish, or bilingual.

-Offline programming must be programmed offline (as opposed to live or live-to-tape), except in cases of last-minute editorial changes to the program, proprietary considerations of the program's content, or a damaged caption file.

-All new English-Spanish bilingual programming must be captioned. 75% of such captioning that existed before the ruling must be captioned by a date to be determined by the FCC.

Going forward, the FCC also hopes to address captioning requirements for online clips and whether or not to publicly post captioning complaints from consumers. Download the full report and order here.



VITAC Completes Sochi Captioning With Remarkable Success

Posted on: 2/28/2014 11:12:14 AM under News 


Last Sunday, VITAC completed a spectacular two-and-a-half-week feat, captioning the entire Sochi Olympics, both for broadcast on NBC and streaming on the web. The 22nd Winter Games marks the 10th Olympics for which VITAC was chosen to provide captioning, including, most recently, London (2012), Vancouver (2010), Beijing (2008), and Athens (2004). This time, we were the exclusive caption provider, and contributed a grand total of 1,310 hours of live captioning, with a broadcast uptime of an incredible 99.97%. This includes 542 hours of broadcast captioning on networks like NBC, NBC Sports Network, CNBC, MSNBC, and USA, and 768 hours of captioning on

"Captioning the Olympic Games is one of the most gratifying and demanding tasks we've encountered in our 27 years in business, with thousands of athletes competing in 15 different disciplines," said President Patricia Prozzi in a press release. The Olympic Games pose a unique challenge due not only to the massive volume of hours, but because of the diversity of the participants, all of whose names must be spelled correctly. Captioners spend hours researching event terminology and participant names in order to program the correct spellings into their dictionaries, a tool which allows them to spell long and complex words with just a few keystrokes.

Due to the high-profile nature of much of VITAC's realtime captioning work, it is little surprise that network and cable broadcasters continue to trust VITAC when the world is watching.

by Carlin Twedt



National Court Reporting and Captioning Week

Posted on: 2/18/2014 5:33:07 PM under News 


The week of February 16-22 celebrates the contributions of court reporters and captioners and all the benefits we gain from their hard work. Not only do court reporters provide realtime transcripts of courtroom and legislative proceedings, they also "write" all of the live content (especially sports and news) that we watch on TV today -- including all content for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, which are captioned exclusively by VITAC -- a service that benefits over 50 million deaf and hard-of-hearing Americans.

The profession of court reporting traces back to one of the philosopher Cicero's slaves, who developed a shorthand method for quickly taking down Cicero's thoughts. Since then, the trade has developed, and now utilizes electronic, 22-key stenography machines, which type syllables instead of single characters, allowing court reporters to write at an average of 250 words per minute (the world record stands at 360 words per minute). However the improved technology does not do all the work. The skill is extremely difficult, and only about 10-15% of court reporting students graduate. Of that 10%, only about 10% are accepted into the closed captioning circuit.

Aside from the daily contributions court reporters and captioners provide, there is a historical benchmark that they currently fulfill, as well. Chapters of the National Court Reporting Association plan to observe the week through volunteer projects, such as the State of Georgia's Veterans History Project Day, in which the group seeks to transcribe veterans' oral history for submission to the Library of Congress.

Click here to find out how you can pursue a career in court reporting or captioning.

by Carlin Twedt



Sochi Roundup: Week One

Posted on: 2/12/2014 3:45:33 PM under News 


The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics (captioned exclusively by VITAC) are well underway, and what a spectacle it's been! Here are some highlights and notable moments from the games so far:

-#Sochiproblems: Okay, so the hotels weren't quite ready and the tap water wasn't quite transparent. Nearly 100% of the bathroom doors were operational -- doesn't that count for something? Being an Olympian requires incredible strength, toughness, and focus, and there's no reason to make mountains out of molehills. But Bob Costas just can't catch a break, can he?

-Indian luger: Shiva Keshavan falls off his sled in prelims, but slides at the same speed and manages to roll back on it. Which begs the question, why use sleds at all?

-Opening ceremonies: Wow! What a spectacle.

-Shaun White: The snowboarding pioneer goes home emptyhanded, losing in the snowboard halfpipe to a guy named I-Pod with a trick called the "YOLO." And they say snowboarding is just for kids.

-Canadian mogul skier Alex Bilodeau wins gold for his brother with cerebral palsy. If that's not an Olympic moment, I don't know what is.

-The U.S. takes double gold in the new slopestyle event, as well as sweeping the men's podium. The U.S. is tied for first with Norway in the medal count as of 1pm EST.

-Women's hockey: Canada defeats USA 3-2 in a third-period rally. It is still possible that the two teams will meet again, possibly in the gold-medal round on February 20th. Can't wait!

-Men's hockey -- USA vs. Russia: This airs live tomorrow at 7:30am EST. Set your alarms! You'll never make it to the rebroadcast without hearing who won.

Make sure to check out all the forthcoming Olympic excitement, and remember that VITAC is captioning all content on this year, as well.



Offline Department Adds Standing Workstations

Posted on: 2/4/2014 10:51:21 AM under News 


Standing workstationAs part of VITAC's ongoing dedication to its employees health and wellbeing, VITAC has added two standing work stations to the "floor," the offline captioning area where employees transcribe, time, and place captions for prerecorded programming. The standing work stations allow volunteers to remain on their feet, rather than sitting, promoting better posture and circulation during the workday.

The experiment began just days before the opening ceremonies of the 2014 Sochi Winter Games, for which VITAC is the exclusive caption provider. Like the Olympians' commitment to their sports, VITAC strives to promote active, healthy lives amongst its employees.



WPSD Grad to Sign National Anthem at Super Bowl XLVIII

Posted on: 1/31/2014 1:05:32 PM under News 


Before kickoff this Sunday, be sure to catch one of the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf's graduates, Amber Zion, who will be signing the national anthem, as well as "America the Beautiful."

Signing at the Super Bowl would be a dream gig for anyone, but especially for someone like Amber who uses American Sign Language every day. The Penn Hills native has been deaf since before the age of 3 and relies on ASL to communicate on a daily basis -- but proficiency in ASL alone did not get earn her the coveted spot. Her acting background (she has appeared in a recent commercial, as well as in CSI:NY) has helped her, as well, as a video submission of herself signing led to her call to audition. "Just like there are different touches in singing the song, there are different ways to convey the words and concept of the song through ASL," she told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The official announcement that Zion had been selected was made just 10 days ago on January 21st.

The ASL interpretation of this year's national anthem bears special significance because one of the Seattle Seahawks' running backs, Derrick Coleman, is legally deaf. He is the first deaf offensive player in the NFL and has won hearts for his extraordinary work ethic as well as for the adversity he has overcome. The Super Bowl has a history of supporting deaf rights, and in 2008 aired a "silent" ad performed exclusively in ASL. 

Zion graduated from WPSD to go on to Rochester Institute of Technology, where she earned a degree in graphic design. She is "thrilled" to have achieved the honor, and though she has signed the anthem at other NFL games, the Super Bowl has a special significance to her: "There's nothing bigger than the Super Bowl," she said. In preparation, she consulted last year's signing talent (and viral superstar), John Maucere

In other Super Bowl news, VITAC is proud to be captioning the entire event, beginning with pregame coverage on Sunday morning.


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