The Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media at WGBH
For over two decades, the National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) has been a national leader in making digital media accessible for people with disabilities.
The team in NCAM—with over 150 years of combined experience in accessibility—are pioneers, inventors, and problem-solvers, frequently anticipating and creating solutions for tomorrow's technology challenges.
Making any digital service or product accessible guarantees opportunities for organizations to broaden their reach, and to impact the largest possible audience of customers and users. NCAM has partnered with industries that have recognized the need for accessible content, interactivity, and functionality throughout all stages of the digital experience.
Accessibility means something different for each industry, organization, audience, and product. With that in mind, NCAM tailors its services to meet a broad range of trends, needs, and expectations. Simply match your goals with one or more of NCAM’s services to learn about the accessibility possibilities.
Strategic Planning and AdvisingThe WGBH National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) works closely with our strategic partners to help them build internal accessibility expertise and gain valuable knowledge in the areas of digital television, rich media, convergent media, internet, e-books and other forms of media. We marry NCAM's research and development projects with the specific needs of each partner. We asked our partners to tell us why the program works for them, and how it is making a difference to their customers and employees with disabilities.Learn More
TrainingNCAM can provide in-person or online training, offering a primer on how users with disabilities interact with technology and experience different media, and what it means to make that media accessible. NCAM will customize the training to your industry and your staff, vendors, clients, or user group by integrating your content and intellectual property into the training materials.Learn More
EvaluationsNCAM performs accessibility evaluations for websites, applications, hardware and all types of electronic documents for conformance with Section 508 regulations, state accessibility requirements and all levels of WCAG 2.0.Learn More
Standards and RegulationsNCAM participates in policy and standards-setting activities across a broad range of media-related areas, and has served as a technical resource to both industry and government.Learn More
CADETCADET is free, downloadable caption-authoring software that enables anyone to produce high-quality caption files that are compatible with any media player that supports the display of captions. CADET can also be used to generate audio-description scripts.Learn More
Custom SolutionsAccessibility means something different for each industry, organization, audience, and product. With that in mind, NCAM tailors its services to meet a broad range of trends, needs, and expectations. Where accessibility solutions exist, NCAM can support implementation; where they do not, NCAM creates them.Learn More
Accessibility means something different for each industry, organization, audience, and product. With that in mind, NCAM tailors its services to meet a broad range of trends, needs, and expectations.
Making any digital service or product accessible creates opportunities for your organization to broaden its reach, impacting the largest possible audience of customers and users. NCAM has partnered with industries that have recognized the need for accessible content, interactivity, and functionality throughout all stages of their customer’s unique digital experience.
NCAM's work has impacted dozens of industries, including the following:
- Academic publications
- Colleges and universities
- Electronics manufacturers
- Technology companies
- Online retailers
- Media producers, providers and broadcasters
- Local, state and government agencies
- Software, hardware and app developers
- Cultural institutions, amusement parks and stadiums
- Assessment, credentialing and certification organizations
- Law firms
Donna Danielewski, Ph.D.Senior Director of The Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media
Geoff FreedDirector of Technology Projects and Web Media Standards
Bryan GouldDirector of Accessible Learning and Assessment Technologies
Madeleine RothbergSenior Subject Matter Expert
Bradley BotkinSenior Developer
Peter VillaBusiness and Production Manager
Karen LallyAccessible Content Editor and Evaluation Specialist
Richard CaloggeroDeveloper and Access Technology Specialist
The Great American Read: Making Off The Page Experiences AccessibleInnovation Hub's Kara Miller sat down with Bryan Gould from NCAM and Renee Ruthel from Media Access Group to discuss how they are making these broader experiences of loving a book accessible to people who are blind/low vision or deaf/hard of hearing.Learn More
Highlights NCAM Wins FCC Chairman's Award for AccessibilityWhat’s free, easy to use, and just won the FCC Chairman’s Award for Accessibility? CADET! The Caption and Description Editing Tool (CADET) is free, downloadable caption-authoring software that enables anyone to produce high-quality caption files that are compatible with any media player that supports the display of captions.Learn More
For Those Who Can't See, The Eclipse Of The Century Was One For The SensesFor the first time in nearly 100 years, a total eclipse crossed the sky over the United States, unifying millions of spectators in one of the year’s most anticipated and now photographed events... For those with sight, it was, well, quite the sight. But what about for those who are blind or have low vision?Learn More
Below are free resources available to the public. For more information about our consulting services and custom solutions, please contact us here.
Download CADETCADET is free, downloadable caption-authoring software that enables anyone to produce high-quality caption files that are compatible with any media player that supports the display of captions.Learn More
Download QA FaveletThe NCAM Accessibility QA Favelet is designed to help developers and quality assurance personnel identify accessibility issues on web pages.Learn More
Image DescriptionImages require text alternatives (descriptions) to provide a comprehensive experience to people who are blind or have low vision. NCAM has produced several research-based guidelines for describing images.Learn More
Awards and Patents
- 1996: US Patent #5,570,944, "Reflected display system for text of audiovisual performances"
- 2012: FCC Chairman's Award for Advancements in Accessibility: Media Access Mobile (MAM)
- 2015: US patent #8,892,447, "Quality assessment of text derived from an audio signal"
- 2016: Technical Emmy for co-authoring the W3C's Timed Text Markup Language (TTML).
- 2018: FCC Chairman’s Award for Advancements in Accessibility: Caption and Description Editing Tool (CADET)
- 2018: Barry Levine Memorial Career Achievement Award (ACB/ADP)
Software and Systems
- 1991-1998: Developed and released CC School, QuickCaption for Word and QuickCaption School, captioning software for use in classrooms.
- 1992: Launched MoPix, a project to research and develop ways of making movies in theaters accessible to deaf, hard of hearing, blind, and visually impaired people through closed captions and descriptive narration.
- 2000: Released MAGpie, the world's first free software for adding captions and audio descriptions to online multimedia.
- 2007: Developed CCforFlash, a free Flash component to display captions in Flash video and audio content.
- 2015: Created CC WebStreamer (aka TextStreamer) for repurposing broadcast caption data for online distribution, supporting both real-time and pre-produced captions.
- 2016: Developed CADET, a free browser-based tool for adding captions and audio descriptions to online video and audio.
- 2000: Created first-ever guidelines for accessible science and math educational software. [[no link available, it’s so old . . . remove if you prefer only linkables.
- 2000: Founded IMS Global Learning Consortium's Accessibility Working Group which led to the creation of the Access for All distributed learning standards.
- 2008: Published Effective Practices for Describing Images, for creating meaningful image descriptions textbooks and online materials.
- 2010: Co-established the DIAGRAM Center, along with Benetech and the U.S. Fund for DAISY, to research, develop and create tools, standards, guidelines and training to make it easier, cheaper, and faster to deploy accessible digital images.
- 2012: Published Describing Images for Enhanced Assessments
- 2012: Collaborated with IBM Research-Tokyo to research and develop methods of delivering text-based audio descriptions for online video.
- 2012: Prototyped solutions for delivering accessible supplemental materials alongside online video.
- 2015: Created a prototype accessible Personal Health Record system to demonstrate accessible health information technology
Standards and Policies
- 1997: Founding member, Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) at the W3C.
- 1998: Served on the Federal Access Board's Electronic and Information Technology Access Advisory Committee; co-author of recommendations for the original Section 508 requirements.
- 1999 and 2008: Contributor, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 (WCAG 1.0) and WCAG 2.0.
- 2004: Contributor, National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard.
- 2010: Co-author, Timed Text Markup Language 1.0 (TTML 1.0).
- 2007-2008: Co-author, Telecommunications and Electronic and Information Technology Advisory Committee (TEITAC) Audio/Video subcommittee of the Federal Access Board, recommendations for the new Section 508 accessibility requirements.
- 2009-2013: Contributor, Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) Digital Television Standard A/53 standard, including the delivery of captions and audio-descriptions.
- 2009-2013: Contributor, ATSC A/153 standard, defining requirements for transmission of captions to mobile and handheld devices.
- 2010: Contributor, SMPTE-ST 2052-1:2010 Timed-Text Format for converting broadcast captions for delivery over IP systems.
- 2015: Co-author, Media Accessibility User Requirements (MAUR).
- 2016: Appointed to the Federal Advisory Committee on Accessible Air Transportation (ACCESS Advisory Committee); co-chair, In-Flight Entertainment and Communications Working Group.
- 2017: Contributor, EPUB Accessibility 1.0: Conformance and Discovery Requirements for EPUB Publications
The National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) was originally founded in 1991under its name: the Media Access Research and Development Office (MARDO), which was a pioneering facility dedicated to examining the needs and desires of audiences traditionally denied access to media in all forms. In 1993, with funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), MARDO was renamed the National Center for Accessible Media, which was quickly condensed to the now-familiar acronym, NCAM (pronounced "N-CAM"). In 2006, NCAM received a major five-year gift from the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation to complement NCAM's federal, corporate and foundation support. In recognition, NCAM was renamed the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media at WGBH.
NCAM's broad mission has always been to ensure that media and all forms of electronic communication are fully accessible to people with disabilities. NCAM is an extension of WGBH's ground-breaking work in media accessibility that began in 1972 with the establishment of The Caption Center and the development of captioning for television viewers who are deaf and hard-of-hearing. In 1990, WGBH's access mission was expanded by the development of video description for television audiences who are blind and visually impaired, and the establishment of Descriptive Video Services (DVS). NCAM's work in Web accessibility stretches back to 1996, when it launched the Web Access Project, one of the first studies focusing on accessible online materials.
NCAM influences technology development and public policy through research into effective practices; development of demonstration models, solutions and standards; and advocacy and outreach. These efforts have had a significant impact on the accessibility of Web technologies, streaming media, interactive technologies, e-book hardware and software design, distributed learning platforms, digital libraries and mobile content and devices in every conceivable environment. A selected list of milestones and achievements follows.