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Chapter 13. Enhancing Accessibility thro... > Accessible Video Content Requires Cl...

Accessible Video Content Requires Closed Captioning

Video media elements typically rely on the user’s ability to see and hear content in order to fully experience it. Users who do not hear or have turned off their speakers rely on a text caption track of the dialogue and other sounds that accompany the video. Besides making the soundtrack accessible to some 20 million Americans who are deaf or hard of hearing, these closed captions are useful for people with cognitive disabilities; captions are also helpful to individuals who are learning the language spoken in the video. WCAG 1.0 Checkpoint 1.4 and Section 508 paragraph (b) specify that the captions must be synchronized with the delivery of the video and audio presentation.

You’ve probably seen closed captioning many times—for example, on televisions located in crowded or noisy public spaces such as hotel and airport lobbies, bars, restaurants, and so forth. All U.S. televisions manufactured since 1992 can display closed captions, so if you’ve never really thought about how they work, we recommend that you try this experiment at home. Turn on the closed captions on your television set. Turn off the sound. Watch the news or several of your favorite shows using only the captions. Spend enough time doing this so that the novelty and initial frustration wear off, and note how different types of elements and events are represented in the caption—dialog, music, background noises, other sound effects.


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