The Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) requires programs shown on television with captions and later online to also be captioned. In its Internet-Protocol (IP) Closed Captioning rules, the FCC created separate deadlines for new programming, which is posted online after the rules are in effect, and archival programming, which is programming posted online before the rules going in effect but shown or re-aired later on television.
As of September 30, 2013, 100% of new video programming shown on television with captions must have captions when shown online.
However, archival programming must be captioned following the deadlines:
- The programming must be captioned within 45 days after the date it is shown on television with captions on or after March 30, 2014;
- The programming must be captioned within 30 days after the date it is shown on television with captions on or after March 30, 2015;
- Such programming must be captioned within 15 days after the date it is shown on television with captions on or after March 30, 2016.
Online Video Clips
The FCC reversed an earlier decision to exempt video clips from coverage under the IP Closed Captioning rules. Online video clips taken from programs shown on television with captions, such as news programs, and shown online – such as in 30 second or 1 minute long segments – must be closed captioned.
Straight-lift clips, which contain a single excerpt of a captioned television program with the same video and audio that was presented on television, must be captioned after January 1, 2016.
As of January 1, 2017, montages (one file of multiple straight-lift video clips) must be captioned.
As of July 1, 2017, video clips of live and near-live television programming (such as news or sporting events) also must be captioned with the following timelines:
- For clips of live programming, the clip must be posted with captions up to 12 hours after the programming has been shown on television.
- For clips of near-live programming, the clip must be posted with captions up to 8 hours after the programming has been shown on television.
The CVAA rules require that covered “apparatus” (including computers, smart phones, tablets, and any physical device capable of receiving or playing back video programming simultaneously with sound) sold or manufactured in the United States must have closed captioning capability as of January 1, 2014.
Programming Not Yet Shown on Television
The CVAA unfortunately does not cover programming that has yet to be shown on television, such as new release movies available for streaming or online only programming. However, in 2011, the NAD sued Netflix, the largest online programming provider, under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for not providing equal access to most of its “Watch Instantly” movies and television programs. Netflix argued that online only businesses are not covered by the ADA and requested dismissal of our suit. In 2012, the Federal District Court in Massachusetts disagreed and in a historic ruling, ruled that online only businesses are covered by Title III of the ADA.
Soon after, Netflix agreed to caption 100% of its streaming content by September 30, 2014. Since then, the NAD has also entered into agreements with Apple, Vudu, Amazon, Gogo, and Hulu for 100% captioning. The NAD continues to advocate for caption accessibility on all online content.
Movies on the Internet
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not require movie DVDs for sale or rent to the public to be captioned. However, many movie studios and movie distributors voluntarily caption movies made available for sale or rent on DVDs. Today, we can also download movies from the Internet.