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June 25, 2018

WGBH’s National Center for Accessible Media Honored with FCC Chairman’s Award for Advancement in Accessibility

BOSTON – Recognizing a commitment to ensuring everyone has access to content, the FCC has for the second time honored WGBH and the National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) with the FCC Chairman’s Award for Advancement in Accessibility (Chairman’s AAA). The award was presented to NCAM for their work in developing CADET, a free caption and description editing tool that enables content creators to easily caption and provide audio descriptions for video content.

Presented annually, the Chairman’s AAA recognizes outstanding efforts to advance communications accessibility for people with disabilities. The awards are given based on the inventiveness, affordability, availability, and potential impact of the technology for intended users.

“The media landscape continues to evolve at a faster and faster pace. To ensure no one is left behind, it’s critical we invest in developing technologies that allow everyone access to the wide array of communications channels and content available today,” said Jon Abbott, president and CEO of WGBH. “NCAM continues to push past boundaries that limit access for individuals with disabilities. We are honored to be recognized by the FCC for this work and look forward to continuing to advance accessibility for all.”

U.S. Senator Edward Markey, a longtime champion of WGBH’s access work who helped pave the way for this kind of innovation with his 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act added his congratulations.

“WGBH has been committed to media accessibility for 40 years and has been involved in making virtually every innovative development in media and technology accessible and inclusive for all members of our society,” said Senator Markey. “I’ve been supporting them every step of the way and I am thrilled that the FCC is recognizing their extraordinary work.”

Captions are critical to more than 36 million Americans and 360 million people worldwide who are deaf or hard of hearing. In addition, captions have proven beneficial in literacy training and reading comprehension, as well as for increasing comprehension among non-native speakers. However, the majority of online videos are self-generated and most original content is not captioned. In developing CADET, NCAM identified a strong need for do-it-yourself captions and descriptions, especially among schools, government agencies, colleges and universities, non-profits and even for-profit companies, as well as everyday people posting videos online.

CADET enables anyone to easily produce high-quality caption files compatible with any media player in any web browser. CADET can be used for online or offline media and does not require users to upload private videos or proprietary content to the internet. It can also be used to generate audio-description scripts, providing access to the 36 million people worldwide who are blind.

“Today’s recognition by the FCC will help us to raise awareness of CADET among content creators, video producers, educators and others,” said Donna Danielewski, director of NCAM. “As federal regulations change in regard to captions and captions quality, CADET will help lower the barriers to creating these audio descriptions and captions, allowing for easier compliance with new regulations.

This marks the second time an NCAM innovation has been recognized with the Chairman’s AAA. In 2012, NCAM’s Media Access Mobile (MAM) technology won the Chairman's Award. NCAM’s work builds upon WGBH’s 47-year history in creating captions and developing captioning tools, beginning with the invention of captions for broadcast television in 1971.

The Chairman's AAA are part of an FCC initiative to recognize the efforts of individuals, organizations, academic institutions, companies and government agencies to make communications tools more accessible to people with disabilities. This initiative aims to encourage technological innovation and accessibility in communications-related areas. Through the Chairman's AAA, the FCC seeks to recognize engineers, researchers and others who have been successful in crafting innovative ways for consumers with disabilities to benefit from our nation's communications technologies.

Winners for 2018 were recognized at an awards ceremony on June 12, 2018, held in conjunction with the M-Enabling Summit in Arlington, VA. Winners also received a plaque from the FCC, and will be commemorated on a permanent plaque on display at FCC Headquarters in Washington. For more information about the Chairman’s AAA, go to fcc.gov/chairmansaaa.

About The Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media

The Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM), part of WGBH, is a research, development and consulting unit dedicated to expanding access to present and future media for people with disabilities, exploring how existing access technologies may benefit other populations, and representing its constituents in industry, policy and legislative circles. NCAM’s staff represents the leading experts in the field and our success is exemplified by a history of accomplishments and continuous growth, the integration of innovative products and services into society at large, and the enthusiastic support of the audiences served, including 50 million people in the U.S. who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or have low vision.

About WGBH

WGBH Boston is America’s preeminent public broadcaster and the largest producer of PBS content for TV and the Web, including Frontline, Nova, American Experience, Masterpiece, Antiques Roadshow, Arthur, and more than a dozen other prime-time, lifestyle, and children’s series, reaching nearly 75 million people each month. WGBH also is a major supplier of programming for public radio with Public Radio International (PRI). As a leader in educational multimedia for the classroom, WGBH supplies content to PBS LearningMedia, a national broadband service for teachers and students. WGBH also is a pioneer in technologies and services that make media accessible to those with hearing or visual impairments. WGBH has been recognized with hundreds of honors: Emmys, Peabodys, duPont-Columbia Awards and Oscars. Find more information at www.wgbh.org.


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