Captioning the Internet One Video at a Time

Not too long ago, a friend sent me a news video she wanted me to watch.  I wrote back telling her I couldn't get any use out of it--it wasn't captioned.  Well, the good news is, there is some progress happening toward a more accessible web experience, thanks to the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010.

My friend, Amber Smock, a rockin' disability advocate from Access Living in Chicago sent me this today about captions on the web:


On January 12, 2012, the FCC adopted rules requiring captioned programs shown on TV to be captioned when re-shown on the Internet.  These rules implement provisions of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA).

The FCC recently modified its complaint form 2000C.  You can now use this form to file complaints about closed captioning of TV programs re-shown on the Internet.   If you wish to file a complaint on this issue, please complete form 2000C online at

Before filing your complaint, please check the following schedule to determine whether the TV program you viewed on the Internet must be captioned:


The following deadlines apply to video programming that a distributor shows for the first time on the Internet (newly added to the distributor's inventory of Internet video programming):

  • September 30, 2012:  Pre-recorded video programming that is not “edited for the Internet” must be captioned on the Internet if it has been shown on TV with captions since September 30, 2012.  “Edited for the Internet” means the TV version has been substantially edited.  Examples of such editing are:  deleting scenes or altering musical scores.  (Changing the number or duration of commercials is not considered “editing” for this purpose.)
  • March 30, 2013:  Live and near-live video programming must be captioned on the Internet if it is shown on TV with captions on or after March 30, 2013.  Near-live video programming is programming that is performed and recorded less than 24 hours before being shown on TV for the first time.
  • September 30, 2013:  Pre-recorded video programming that is substantially edited for the Internet must be captioned if it is shown on TV with captions on or after September 30, 2013.

This schedule and more information about the FCC’s rules on video programming delivered over the Internet are summarized in the FCC Consumer Guide:  Captioning of Internet Video Programming: (HTML)  (PDF)

For questions regarding the filing of complaints, you may contact the Disability Rights Office at 202-418-2517 or email us at

Little by little, the web is becoming more and more accessible.  I look forward to the day when deaf and hard of hearing people can access all the audio and video content with captions.

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