It has been an eventful year at VITAC. In addition to captioning more than 550,000 live-program hours, and creating verbatim, precisely timed captions for more than 75,000 pre-recorded programs, we also published nearly 70 news blogs, ranging from VITAC and industry news to legislative updates to new technologies to personal captioning experiences.
As we put a bow on 2018, we wanted to take a moment to look back at our top 10 blog posts from the past year. Here they are, in order of most-viewed.
A short VITAC-produced video looked at how live, realtime captions are created, and the work involved in bringing captions to the screen, whether it be television, tablet, computer, or mobile phone. The piece gives a quick overview of the job of a highly skilled set of professionals — realtime captioners.
An eagerly anticipated summer tradition for many, Discovery Channel’s Shark Week celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2018. This year’s weeklong lineup featured brand new episodes and an all-star cast of athletes and celebrities — including Shaquille O’Neal, Ronda Rousey, Aaron Rodgers, Rob Gronkowski, Lindsey Vonn, Guy Fieri, and Bear Grylls — in addition to Shark Week’s team of scientists and researchers offering new insight into the world of sharks.
VITAC once again was on deck to caption all the action, excitement, and adrenaline rushes as our offline and realtime teams provided more than 50 hours of captions for “Shark Week” programming.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) extended a waiver that temporarily makes video games exempt from the accessibility requirements set forth in the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA). The Act requires any in-game communication aspects, like in-game chat and any user interfaces needed to play the game, be accessible and usable by individuals with disabilities, such as those in the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.
The waiver, the FCC said, will be the final one issued to the gaming industry at large.
Offline captioner Sarah McPartland took a look at the work involved (and love affair with) captioning daily soap operas, including the extensive prep work, hitting deadlines, and getting caught up in the storylines!
VITAC’s Web Captioning capabilities, a proven solution for captioning on any collaboration platform, includes WebEx Event Center and WebEx Meeting Center. Meeting organizers can embed live captions into their WebEx events – or make them available via VITAC’s Internet Captioning Streamer – for viewing by all meeting and event attendees. The blog looked at how captioning a WebEx event works and how captions are made available to WebEx meeting attendees.
Offline captioner Monica Brooks knows very well that some programs are simply easier to caption than others. And those qualities that make for low-stress captioning – speaking slowly, not talking over each other, and using the correct language and grammar, just to name a few – tend to be the same qualities that improve everyday conversations and interactions (and make for better TV viewing, too!).
The FCC’s rules for television closed captioning ensure that viewers who are deaf and hard of hearing have full access to programming, and require that captions be accurate, synchronous, complete, and properly placed. And this includes not only the dialogue on the screen, but also sound effects and other non-verbal cues.
Thankfully, VITAC’s highly skilled captioners are masters of description, line breaks, timing, readability, and, yes, sound effects that many viewers may not notice or even consider.
A number of disability rights and advocacy groups, including the Hearing Loss Association of America, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, voiced their concern in 2018 over a bill they say would weaken the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 would prohibit lawsuits and civil actions based on improper access to existing public accommodations unless the business or property owner had first been provided a written notice specifically identifying the barrier. The bill still is before the Senate.
VITAC hosted a couple of webinars in 2018, including one that examined the importance and myriad benefits of captioned content. Host Heather York, VITAC vice president of marketing and government affairs, and presenter John Capobianco, VITAC chief marketing officer, discussed how captions (both live and prerecorded) are created; the role that captions play in everyday life; captioning requirements; and the differences between human-generated captions and those created by automated speech recognition programs, among other topics.
The topic of caption quality made headlines after television viewers took to social media to voice their complaints over inaccurate captions they see on Netflix shows, including makeover show “Queer Eye.”
Fans of the show took to Twitter to complain about captions that often misrepresented, censored, or simplified dialogue from the show. Some noted that while the show censors profanity, the onscreen captions replaced curse words entirely and, in other instances, shortened or altered phrases altogether. This, many argued, changed the experience for viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Netflix heard the complaints and pledged to address the concerns.
And that wraps up our countdown of the top 10 blogs of 2018! Keep an eye on our blog throughout 2019 as we look forward to keeping readers informed of the latest VITAC news and industry happenings. Stay tuned!