Target was sued recently because its website was inaccessible to the blind. A court ruled that a retailer’s website is a virtual “location,” and must be as accessible as an actual store.
In June of 2008, Representatives Edward Markey (D-MA), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, and Heather Wilson (R-NM) introduced http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h110-6320 The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2008″ (H.R. 6320). The bill would require major producers of Internet videos and on phones that deliver video streams to add captions.
The goal, Markey said, is “to ensure that people with disabilities are not left behind as technology changes.”
According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, about half of U.S. Internet users now watch video online. Many want to watch YouTube videos which are mostly produced by individuals. They may never be required to caption their short videos because they are not commercial enterprises. However, the good news is that YouTube is encouraging everyone to do so. Go here to see how it can be done, and tell anyone you know who is submitting material to YouTube:
Few prime-time video streams include captions. For example, NBC captions many of its Internet streams, but CBS does not. These are the corporations the law is addressing.
The main problem is that there is no single common file format or way for all media players to handle captions.
A coalition of over two hundred organizations representing hard of hearing, deaf and blind people are working to advocate for the Markey legislation. Here is a link to that coalition’s website. http://www.coataccess.org. There, be sure to “sign” the petition about captioning internet media.