24 May 2011 ~ Comments

New Standard for Online Captions

Earlier this month, the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE)  announced that it is making its closed captioning standard for online video content available absolutely free of charge.   While SMPTE typically sells its standards, the organization has notably released this standard for free in an effort to “accelerate the availability of online video content to people with disabilities.”  The standard for closed captioning of online content is important in allowing video content providers to efficiently produce captions in a manner that is cost-effective for the producer.

Not only is the availability of this standard significant because of its importance to producers, but SMPTE’s standard is also crucial to accessibility as video viewing habits continue to undergo drastic changes.  With approximately 240 million Americans using the Internet, it should come as no surprise that the number of Internet users watching video content online is growing exponentially.  Not only is Internet access becoming more and more widespread, but the quality and speed of Internet connections continue to improve for users throughout the country.  Current estimates state that almost 70% of online Americans watch video content via download or a streaming service.  In the next few years, this number will grow to over 75% of Internet users in the United States, which will result in nearly 200 million online viewers.

The dynamic of viewership has certainly shifted in recent years and it is necessary for producers of video content to adapt to this trend.  For this reason, the FCC is currently preparing to issue its final rules regarding online captioning to be included under the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA).  As many anticipate these new rules, the standard made available by SMPTE is a tremendous stepping stone in the process of making online video content readily accessible to people with disabilities.  The fact that SMPTE has made the standard available for free is certainly a tremendous benefit to both producers and viewers alike.

For more information on SMPTE’s standard for closed captioning of online content, click here.

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