Related Laws

Television Decoder Circuitry Act of 1990

The Television Decoder Circuitry Act of 1990 mandated that all new television sets built after July 1, 1993 for sale in the United States and having a screen 13 inches or larger must include caption-decoding technology.

Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed to ensure equal opportunity for persons with disabilities. The ADA prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in employment, State and local government services, businesses that are public accommodations or commercial facilities, and in transportation. Title III of the ADA requires that public facilities, such as hospitals, bars, shopping centers and museums (but not movie theaters), provide access to verbal information on televisions, films or slide shows. Captioning is considered one way of making such information available to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Title IV of the ADA mandates the establishment of telephone relay services for people who use TTY’s (teletypewriters). More information is available at www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/.

Telecommunications Act of 1996

The U.S. Congress included television captioning requirements in the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The Act requires that video programming be closed captioned, regardless of distribution technology (i.e., broadcast, cable, satellite), to ensure access for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing. Some exemptions were included to prevent undue economic burdens. To implement the closed captioning requirements included in the Act, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) established rules and implementation schedules for the captioning of television programming. The complete set of rules is available at www.fcc.gov/cgb/dro/ccrules.html. Additional consumer information is available from the FCC at www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/closedcaption.html.

Rehabilitation Act – Section 508 Accessibility

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act as strengthened by the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 requires that Federal agencies make their electronic and information technology (EIT) accessible to people with disabilities, including employees and the general public. The requirements of Section 508 apply to an agency’s procurement of EIT, as well as to the agency’s development, maintenance or use of EIT. All training and informational video and multimedia productions that support the agency’s mission, regardless of format, must be open or closed captioned if they contain speech or other audio information necessary for the comprehension of the content. All training and informational video and multimedia productions that support the agency’s mission, regardless of format, must include an audible description of the video  content if they contain visual information necessary for the comprehension of the content. Visit the Section 508 web site www.section508.gov for more information.