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FCC Adopts New Video Accessibility Rules

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Released: October 29, 2013

Federal Communications Commission

News Media Information 202 / 418-0500

445 12th Street, S.W.


Washington, D. C. 20554

TTY: 1-888-835-5322

This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action.
See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).




October 29, 2013
Janice Wise: (202) 418-8165



Order Represents Final Milestone in FCC’s Implementation of Landmark Law
Making Digital Communications More Accessible

Washington, D.C.

– The Federal Communications Commission today adopted rules that will
enable people who are blind or visually impaired to have easier access to digital video
programming on a wide range of electronic devices. The rules will also enable consumers who
are deaf or hard of hearing to activate closed captioning on their devices with greater ease.
This action represents the final major step in the FCC’s implementation of the Twenty-First
Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA), enacted in 2010 to
bring people with disabilities access to the modern and innovative communications technologies
of the twenty-first century. The CVAA is the most significant accessibility legislation since the
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). As a result of the FCC’s implementation of the CVAA,
more than 50 million Americans will have greater access to advanced communications.
Devices covered under the rules adopted today include navigation devices – devices used to
access cable or satellite services, such as set-top boxes and TiVos – as well as other devices used
to receive or play back digital video, ranging from televisions and computers to tablets and
smartphones. All covered devices are required to provide on-screen text menus and guides that
are audibly accessible, as well as a mechanism that is comparable to a button, key or icon for
activating certain accessibility features, such as closed captioning. Devices other than navigation
devices are also required to make their other built-in functions accessible.
The Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking implements Sections 204 and
205 of the CVAA. Its provisions include flexibility for small entities through extended compliance
deadlines, outreach requirements to inform the public about the availability of accessibility options,
and a procedure for complaints. The Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeks comment on
a number of areas where the current record is insufficient.
The CVAA has helped ensure that people with disabilities are not left out of the digital
revolution by requiring design features that improve accessibility in telephones and television, as
well as on the Internet and in new devices, applications, and services. The FCC has played a key

role in implementing the Act through initiatives that have already provided enormous benefits to
consumers, including the following:
More than 50 million Americans with disabilities have greater access to advanced
communications services, such as text messaging, e-mail, and distant messaging and the
equipment used with these services, such as smartphones, personal computers, laptops,
and tablets.
36 million Americans who are deaf or have hearing loss can watch television programs
with closed captions when those programs are re-shown over the Internet, and soon they
will be able to use their cell phones, tablets and other portable wireless devices to watch
these programs with captions.
25 million Americans who are blind or visually impaired can enjoy TV programs with
video description and send an email or instant message on a smart phone.
Thousands of people who are deaf-blind can receive accessible communication devices
so they can make telephone calls and access the Internet, to work, learn, and shop, like
everyone else.
Americans with disabilities are able to locate accessible communication products and
services through the Commission’s new accessibility clearinghouse at
And, as a result of today's actions, 25 million Americans who are blind or visually
impaired will be able to navigate menus on a range of devices that show video
programming, with access to captioning facilitated for an additional 36 million
Action by the Commission October 29, 2013, by Report and Order and Further Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 13-138). Acting Chairwoman Clyburn and Commissioner
Rosenworcel with Commissioner Pai approving in part, concurring in part. Acting Chairwoman
Clyburn, Commissioners Rosenworcel and Pai issuing statements.
For additional information, contact Adam Copeland at (202) 418-1037 or or Maria Mullarkey at (202) 418-1067 or
News and other information about the FCC is available at

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