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Multimedia presentations can be inaccessible to people who are unable to hear audio content and to people who are unable to see critical information that is presented visually. For people who are unable to hear the audio content, The content must include captions. For people who are unable to see critical information that is presented visually, this content must be verbally described (a process called audio description).
Many commercially available educational products are captioned. Multimedia products are particularly likely to have been captioned if they were produced for television. Section 713 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 requires that video program distributors (cable operators, broadcasters, and satellite distributors) phase in closed captioning of their television programs. Deadlines call for 100% of new English-language programming to be captioned by 2006, 75% of pre-rule programming (i.e., programming first shown before January 1, 1998) to be captioned by 2008, and 100% of new Spanish-language programming to be captioned by 2010. When purchasing multimedia products, educational entities should consult the publisher about availability of captioned versions of the product. An accessibility procurement policy helps to ensure that this check actually takes place.
Currently, there are few commercial multimedia products available with audio description. Still, educational entities should inquire about availability as part of the multimedia purchasing process.
The following AccessIT Knowledge Base article may also be of interest:
For additional information, contact your region's ADA & IT Center at 1-800-949-4232.