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FCC Accessibility Rules Effective and Enforceable January 2014

December 2013 — The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released Final Rules in the Matter of Accessibility of User Interface, and Video Programming Guides and Menus [MB Docket No. 12-108] and Accessible Emergency Information and Apparatus Requirements for Emergency Information and Video Description: Implementation of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 [MB Docket No. 12-107]. The adopted rules implement Sections 204 and 205 of the CVAA, enabling people with visual or auditory disabilities to easily access accessibility features for video programming. Specifically, the rules specify that Section 205 applies to “navigation devices,” or those devices used to access multichannel video programming, and while Section 204 applies to all other “digital apparatus designed to receive or play back video programming transmitted in digital format simultaneously with sound.” In ensuring accessibility of navigation devices and digital apparatus, Section 204 requires audio output for all essential functions, as defined by the VPAAC, needed for video reception and playback while also requiring a button, key, or icon for consumers to easily access closed captioning and video description. Similarly, Section 205 requires that the 11 VPAAC essential functions be accessible; however only nine of the 11 require audio output, and at this time, devices covered under Section 205 are required to have a button, key or icon to provide access for closed captioning only.  The rules also require covered entities to inform consumers of the availability of accessible devices while also setting a three-year compliance deadline for covered entities.  All rules, except those requiring collection of information, are effective January 21, 2014.

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The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Technologies is sponsored by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under grant number 90RE5007-01-00. The opinions contained in this website are those of the Wireless RERC and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or NIDILRR.