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Captioned FCC Forum

Captioned FCC Forum

April 2000

Editor: Awhile ago we published a short article on internet captioning and promised that we would keep an eye on this emerging technology. The first application I’ve seen is a public forum by the FCC on April 28, 2000. In their press release, they asked for our opinion of this technology, so I sent them an email describing my experience. Theirpress release is provided below, followed by my email to them.

Contact information for the captioned FCC Forums and other FCC resources is provided on the FCC Page in the Resource Directory.


Press Release

The Federal Communications Commission held a public forum today, April 28, 2000 from 10-11:15 am, EST. For persons not able to attend the forum in person, we broadcasted the meeting via Real Audio. To make the internet broadcasting accessible to persons with hearing disabilities, we tried a new in-house technology for real-time captioning on the internet, via Real Video.

As many of you know, the FCC is committed to ensuring access to all persons with disabilities, and has worked through three vendors in the past to provide real-time internet captioning, all of which are no longer providing this service. We would appreciate your comments on our in-house trial of internet captioning.

The Disabilities Rights Office


Letter in Response

Dear FCC,

I was intrigued by a press release from the Disability Rights Office regarding the captioning of the April 28 public forum, so I went to the specified website and began viewing the file. I’m using a dialup connection that typically connects at around 40 kbits per second.

I was very excited to see an image of the meeting room, and then an image of a woman who appeared to be presenting. Next I heard her voice, and finally I was thrilled to see the captions pop up.

Unfortunately, the captions were stuck on “Good Morning” for the entire 5 minutes I watched. The video was also stuck at the opening image of the speaker. But the audio was coming through just fine. (It would be nice if a person could select to dedicate the available bandwidth to the captions rather than the audio, but I think you need to convince RealAudio to provide that feature.)

So I’d rate this as a wonderful idea that needs a little work on the implementation. And it probably works fine for people with a high-speed connection. Please continue to work on this technology. Internet captioning is vital to people with hearing loss.