The rules cover any device which is used to receive or play digital video, including televisions, set-top boxes, computers and smartphones. From now on, these will need to have on-screen text menus and program guides which are audibly accessible (i.e. the user can opt to hear them spoken), and a single button, key or icon to activate accessibility features such as closed captions.
To make it easier for people with disabilities to choose the electronic devices that will suit them best, the FCC has also established an online Accessibility Clearinghouse, which lists various devices and their accessibility features. Many of these features remain on devices when they are exported to Australia.
The new rules represent the last major step in implementing the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010. The provisions of this landmark piece of legislation also include mandatory captioning of all full-length videos distributed over the internet which were previously captioned for television broadcast.
For more information, see the FCC’s media release.
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