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NCAM

Standards and Regulations

In 1993, WGBH established its National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) as a research and development division to build on this unique expertise. A founding member of the Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C/WAI), NCAM projects influence 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.

We offer deep expertise in digital media and have unparalleled experience in identifying potential opportunities and challenges for access in both traditional and emerging technologies, designing solutions and supporting implementation. Our technology solutions, technical standards and developers’ guidelines are currently being used to make multimedia and digital resources accessible to people with disabilities in their homes, at school, at work and in the community.

Industry standards and specifications leadership:

  • W3C working groups (TTML, HTML5 accessibility task force, WAI Guidelines/Protocols and Formats): developing accessible Web- and multimedia-authoring techniques
  • IMS Global Learning Consortium and ISO/IEC committees: co-chair of working group developing for Access for All standard for distributed learning platforms
  • Digital Talking Books and e-book committees (IDPF EPUB working group: developing specifications and best practices for navigation; accessible images and media within DTBs and EPUB formats)
  • Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC), developing caption and audio description requirements for DTV transmission and display
  • Advanced Television Systems Committee Mobile/Handheld (ATSC A153 M/H) working group, defining requirements for transmission to mobile and handheld devices
  • Society of Motion Pictures Engineers (SMPTE) Broadband 23B committee, developing interoperable standards for broadband media content and distribution platforms and devices
  • SMPTE-TT working group, creating SMPTE-ST 2052-1:2010 Timed-Text Format, a standard for use when converting broadcast captions for delivery over IP systems
  • SMPTE Digital Cinema Committee, developing standardized formats for delivery of audio description and caption data
  • World Airline Entertainment Association (WAEA) Technical Committee — now Airline Passenger Experience Committee (APEX) — contributing to specifications for digital content delivery for in-flight entertainment systems
  • Appointed by US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to serve on the Federal Advisory Committee on Accessible Air Transportation (ACCESS Advisory Committee)
  • United Nations Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies (G3ict), supporting international policy and knowledge-sharing through steering committee
  • Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure (GPII), consortium working to establish cloud-based accessibility services

Public policy commitments:

Serves on numerous national advisory boards: media, broadband, education, employment.

Served on Access Board committees drafting federal accessibility requirements, including:

  • Federal Access Board's Telecommunications and Electronic and Information Technology Advisory Committee (TEITAC) Audio/Video subcommittee, (2007-08), developing recommendations for updates to Section 508 accessibility requirements
  • Federal Access Board's Electronic and Information Technology Access Advisory Committee (1998-99), formulating federal regulations to comply with Section 508 amendments to the Rehabilitation Act

Served on FCC Committees related to disability, technology & public safety, including:

  • FCC's Video Programming Accessibility Advisory Committee, chair of committee developing requirements of “Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act” (enacted Oct. 2010)
  • FCC Technological Advisory Council
  • FCC Consumer Advisory Committee (chair, Working Group on Advanced Technology)
  • FCC Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council (CSRIC)
  • FCC Commercial Mobile Service Alert Advisory Committee (CMSAAC)

The Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) has worked with NCAM since the early 2000s in an effort to make inflight entertainment more accessible to passengers who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or visually impaired, including work with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). NCAM’s contributions have been essential to successful initiatives that serve people with disabilities.
Michael Childers, Member, Board of Directors, Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) and Chair, APEX Technology Committee
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