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Digital Television and Video Description: Service Continues, Consumer and Industry Efforts Required

July 3, 2008 • Darrell Shandrow Hilliker

The WGBH – Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media
(NCAM) has published a new Outreach and Policy Paper, Digital Television and
Video Description: Service Continues, Consumer and Industry Efforts Required

Most consumers are just now becoming aware of the mandated transition from
analog to digital broadcasting scheduled for February of 2009 and how it
will affect the TV viewing that they rely on daily. Blind or deaf consumers
who purchase digital TV sets, and subscribe to cable, satellite or
fiber-optic TV services have expressed frustration with set-up, reception
and incompatibility problems regarding access services (captioning and video
description), few of which are understood or even documented by
manufacturers and retailers.

In addition, people who want to continue receiving free over-the-air
broadcasts using their analog sets and an antenna must purchase a set-top
converter box to do so – and figure out how to make captions and
descriptions work for them. NCAM previously published an overview of
problems confronting deaf or hard-of-hearing people trying to access
captions via DTV or through a converter box. The "DTVCC" paper can be found
on NCAM's Web site listed below.

This new paper focuses on challenges facing blind or low vision viewers who
rely on video description to enjoy and fully understand television
programming. Topics covered include:

– Set-top Converter Boxes
– Accessible Menus
– Tips for Finding Video Description in DTV
– Troubleshooting
– and a Technical Note about PSIP (or Program and System Information
Protocol)

This paper, along with much more information about the DTV conversion from a
variety of resources, can be found at NCAM's DTV Access site,

http://dtvaccess.org or http://ncam.wgbh.org/dtv

We want to hear from you…
NCAM has established a one-way e-mail address, dtvaccess@wgbh.org, as an
aggregator of complaints and problems related to the DTV rollout. If you
send a report about a DTV access problem to this address, you will receive
an automatic response that says that your report has been received and that
we are gathering information but cannot respond to your inquiry, and that we
will pass along common issues to relevant parties.


Mary Watkins
Director of Communications and Outreach
Media Access Group at WGBH
mary_watkins@wgbh.org
http://access.wgbh.org
One Guest Street
Boston, MA 02135
617 300-3700 v/fax
617 300-2489 TTY

WGBH Boston informs, inspires, and entertains millions through public
broadcasting, the Web, educational multimedia, and access services for
people with disabilities.

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