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Stations reminded emergency information should be accessible

The FCC last month issued a public notice reminding television broadcasters and Pay-TV companies that emergency information must be made accessible to the hearing and visually impaired.

There are no exemptions to this responsibility set forth in Section 79.2 of the commission’s rules, and stations should note that each licensee is responsible for compliance no matter what technology is used to deliver its programming to viewers.

For the blind or visually impaired:

  • Emergency information presented visually in a regular newscast or interruption of regular programming must be accessible. 
  • Crawls and scrolls must be preceded by an aural tone and direct visually impaired persons to tune to other sources, such as radio, for more information. 
  • Repeating the aural tone at least as often as the content changes is recommended.
  • Beginning May 25, 2015, TV stations must use a secondary audio channel to convey televised emergency information aurally when it’s presented visually, as in a crawl, during a non-news program.  This information must follow an aural tone that can prompt the visually impaired to switch to the second audio stream.

For the hearing impaired:

  • Emergency information presented aurally must be made accessible using closed captioning or other methods, such as open captioning, crawls or scrolls that appear on the screen – but they cannot block any closed captioning, or vice versa.

FCC guidelines compliance with these rules are posted online in two places:

Questions?  Contact TAB’s Oscar Rodriguez or call (512) 322-9944.

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