VITAC Celebrates 33 Years of Top-Quality Captions, Accessibility Solutions

by: David Titmus

VITAC is celebrating our 33rd birthday this month, and please forgive our lack of modesty, but we look pretty good for 33, if we don’t say so ourselves.

VITAC was founded on the vision that technology could deliver a new level of accessibility to those in the deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHOH) community. Our company seeds were sown in 1982 when Joseph Karlovits, a court reporter, tested realtime captioning technology for the first time in a public forum as a deaf attorney defended the rights of disabled children to fair access of public education before the Supreme Court.

VITAC Celebrates 33 Years of captioning graphicUnderstanding the potential for captioning technology to change lives, Karlovits started American Data Captioning in 1986, laying the foundation for our company’s unwavering commitment to accessibility. The company was subsequently renamed Caption America, and then VITAC (short for “VITal ACcess”) in 1993.

Since that time, captioning has become central to media consumption in the United States — whether across traditional broadcast, social media channels, or through streaming media — and it continues to proliferate across all platforms. From the conference room to the classroom to the living room, captioning makes information attainable and retainable for the tens of millions of people in the DHOH community and the broader viewing markets who choose captions over sound.

Organizations from broadcast networks to federal government agencies, Fortune 100 companies, education institutions, event centers, professional sports teams, and countless others recognize the importance and responsibility of captioning.

And our skilled professional captioners – dedicated company employees, recruited, trained, tested, and reviewed by VITAC to ensure round-the-clock, reliable, and secure customer service – have been there every step of the way.

VITAC has seen – and played a role in – lots of changes in the past three decades, and we’ve always grown and adapted with industry and consumer needs, expanding our services offerings and continuing to make significant investments in people, process, and technology. We have been actively involved in accessibility legislation, seeking ways to help customers and the community stay current and comply with the latest regulations.

Some of the more notable moments from the past 33 years include:

  • 1989: lobbied senator staffs for Television Decoder Circuitry Act
  • 1992: advanced offline captioning of pre-recorded shows
  • 1994: set the standard for offering captioning services 24/7, 365 days-per-year
  • 1996: promoted the Telecommunications Act to increase TV captioning
  • 2000: introduced a Federal Communications Commission (FCC)-compliant emergency news captioning service
  • 2001: served as a hub for all captioning companies during 9/11 for 24/7 coverage
  • 2007-10: campaigned with the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT) for the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) to ensure access to video in digital age
  • 2010: invited to the White House with COAT to celebrate the CVAA’s passage
  • 2010-12: served on the FCC’s Video Programming Accessibility Advisory Committee for benchmarking captioning TV shows via IP
  • 2014: appointed by the FCC to help create Closed Caption Quality Best Practices guide
  • 2014: captioned Sochi Winter Olympics direct to the web versus repurposed from TV
  • 2015-present: serve on the FCC’s Disability Advisory Committee, a group formed to provide advice and recommendations to the commission on a wide variety of disability issues.
  • 2017: acquired the business of Caption Colorado

VITAC started with a small staff in 1986 and today employs hundreds of people at our Greenwood Village, Colorado, and Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, offices, and remotely all over the country. As a full-service captioning company and industry leader in captioning and accessible media solutions, we see a future where captions are ubiquitous, and not just on the TV screen. We are proud of our first 33 years, and look forward to serving our clients and customers for many, many more.