VITAC Proud to Include Hands & Voices Among Our Strong Advocacy Partnerships

by: David Titmus

VITAC is thrilled to provide captions to Hands & Voices, a non-profit, parent-driven organization dedicated to supporting families of children who are deaf or hard of hearing.

VITAC’s sales and client support teams worked closely with the organization to find the captioning solutions that best fit their needs and budget, and our Internet Captioning Services (ICS) will continue to bring live captions to Hands & Voices webinars and other events.

Hands and Voices Logo“VITAC has supported our conversations, from Zoom rooms to phone calls to small group meetings to large meetings and anywhere in between, in a way that is sure to set a standard for meaningful participation for our constituency,” said Janet DesGeorges, Executive Director of Hands & Voices. “The VITAC captioners are excellent, efficient, on time, and prepared. We couldn’t ask for more!

“Without this essential service, we would struggle to ensure that full participation is reached. We are so thankful for the support and excellence of service that VITAC provides.”

From American Sign Language to cochlear implants, Hands & Voices represents people from all different approaches to, and experiences with, deafness or hearing loss. The organization has more than four dozen chapters across North America.

“As a family-led organization that is comprised of parents who have children who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing, our work at Hands & Voices is philosophically and practically committed to accessibility,” said DesGeorges.

VITAC has worked with advocacy groups and caption viewers for more than three decades, and we are proud of — and benefit greatly from — our strong advocate relationships, including those with the National Association of the Deaf, Hearing Loss Association of America, and Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

VITAC has a long history of collaboration with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and our representatives have worked with the commission for more than two decades on a wide variety of projects, including:

  • Video Programming Accessibility Advisory Committee (VPAAC): VITAC was part of a committee formed after the passage of the 21st Century Video Communications Accessibility Act in 2010 that worked to establish technical requirements and safe harbors for the new rules. VITAC was a member of three committee working groups – Video Description, Emergency Information, and User Interfaces.
  • Disability Advisory Committee: Heather York, VITAC Vice President, Marketing and Government Affairs, has served on two FCC Disability Advisory Committees as a non-voting member of the video programming subcommittee. In her role as a representative of caption providers, she advises on the technical requirements for topics ranging from mixed-case captioning to audio description pass-through possibilities to captioning clips delivered via IP after aired on television.
  • Caption Quality Best Practices: VITAC collaborated with three other captioning providers and the National Court Reporters Association (now the National Captioner and Reporter Association) to draft the FCC’s Caption Quality Best Practices in 2014. The group crafted many requirements still in effect today for captioning, including the necessity of now-common elements in captions such as placement, punctuation, speaker identification, and the inclusion of lyrics and sound effects.
  • Captioned Clips Requirements: VITAC advised the commission on the feasibility of requiring captions for clips of full-length programming delivered via IP.
  • DTV Transitions Committee: VITAC served on the committee formed to advise the FCC on accessibility concerns in the transition from analog to digital television in 2009.

Additionally, we have worked closely with both Gallaudet University and the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT) on many FCC committees and actions.

VITAC also is proud of our long-standing partnership and active involvement with the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, collaborating with the school on everything from golf outings to auctions to awards programs. We also are on the board of the Center for Hearing and Deaf Services in Pittsburgh, and support them each year as well.

We are proud of all of our partnerships, and always are looking for ways to enhance existing relationships and strike up new ones.

VITAC strongly believes in “Accessibility for Life” as we strive to make accessible content standard, and stand by our commitment to provide captions and accessible solutions for our customers, while, perhaps most importantly, maintaining the highest quality for our consumers, the tens of millions of Americans who rely on captioning every day.