Video showcases online accessibility solutions to be required in 2012 as part of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act.
VITAC, a leading provider of accessible video programming, today announced the release of the cult classic “Carnival of Souls,” with captions and audio description. This second annual accessible horror film — last year the company released “Night of the Living Dead” with captions and audio description — was created in recognition of the progress being made to increase audio description and captioning on television and the Internet. The 2012 required expansion of these services benefiting blind and deaf audiences is direct result of the FCC’s work to enact the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act.
In conjunction with the American Council of the Blind’s Audio Description Project, VITAC presents the horror film on VITAC’s website, YouTube, and ACB Radio. The public domain video is available in two formats — one with captions and one with captions and audio description.
“We’re happy to once again allow an audience of individuals who are deaf or blind — over 50 million people — the opportunity to experience a classic horror film,” says Heather York, VP Marketing for VITAC. “As it’s an old film and a bad copy, we think hearing and sighted people alike will require the captions and audio descriptions — a great, if unintended, way to showcase the benefits of each service.”
Audio description is normally presented on a secondary audio stream during television broadcasts. Effective July 1, 2012. ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, USA, the Disney Channel, TNT, Nickelodeon, and TBS are each required to provide 50 hours of described prime time or children’s programming per calendar quarter.
“I think that this is great that us blind people can be able to know exactly what the sighted person is looking at instead of having to imagine what it is that is scaring them,” says Louis Herrera, of the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness and a member of the FCC’s Video Programming Accessibility Advisory Committee (VPAAC). “Now we will be part of the viewing audience. This is awesome and VITAC should be recognized for their efforts to produce an all-inclusive viewing/listening experience.”
Captions are required on all television programming airing between 6:00 a.m. and 2:00 a.m. The new legislation will require shows which are captioned for television to also be captioned when distributed online. In the year since Night of the Living Dead aired with captions, captioned video online has increased substantially. All of the broadcast networks provide captioning for their online video, and Netflix and Hulu are increasing their captioned inventory. Many users are realizing that captioning not only increases the audience, but also makes their video easier to find online.
“Adding captions to online video not only allows for improved accessibility, it also enables a video to be searched for, and found, by the text in the video,” says entrepreneur and technical accessibility expert Catharine McNally, who is deaf. “I hope the new legislation will not only add more captions online, it will require that all players and devices display those captions.”
VITAC employees created the captions for the video, and partner Audio Description Associates created the description, narrating the video so that the visual images are accessible to people who are blind or have low vision. Both the caption file and the newly recorded and mixed audio were uploaded to YouTube and embedded on VITAC’s website. ACBRadio, a streaming radio service of the American Council of the Blind, will be streaming Carnival of Souls at 8:00 pm EDT on Halloween.