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Natl Court Reporter Assn Supports Quality Captioning

NCRA Encourages Maximum Accessibility for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing

Press Release by National Court Reporters Association, 10/21/11

The National Court Reporters Association submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission that strongly support the findings of the FCC's Video Programming and Accessibility Advisory Committee's (VPAAC) assertion that regulations related to closed captioning "should address caption completeness, placement, accuracy and timing." In short, the metric of success is whether the captions provided on covered IP-delivered programming succeed in making the full meaning of that content accessible and understandable to persons who are deaf and hard–of-hearing.

"For most people, broadcast captioning is something you see on a television monitor when you're at a loud restaurant or in an airport terminal," said R. Douglas Friend, NCRA President. "But for the 36 million people in this country who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, closed captioning represents one of the most important connections they have to news and information. Because NCRA members are so closely involved with the captioning of live events, we are particularly sensitive to the needs of the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities and are encouraged by FCC discussion of captioning standards."

The FCC received regulatory authority over the subject of Internet captioning because of the Congress passing the Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA), which mandated that all material broadcast on television and then placed on the Internet must be closed captioned. NCRA strongly supported that legislation and issued comments to ensure that the legislative intent of the CVAA was not watered down by excessive exemptions and loopholes to the final law. It remains NCRA's chief concern that captioning quality standards are not thwarted when inadequate captions are carried forward from television broadcast to the Internet.

Stenographic court reporters – using a system known as machine shorthand and hooked up to high-tech realtime court reporting systems – provide broadcast captioning services for live television broadcasts that are universally known to be the highest standard. They also provide the same type of service to deaf and hard-of-hearing consumers in classrooms, in businesses, and in other types of everyday environments in an application of stenographic court reporting known as Communication Access Realtime Translation, or CART. NCRA sets the standards for the quality of realtime court reporting, broadcast captioning, and CART through a series of certifications that it offers to members and the court reporting community at large.