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FAQ: What You Need to Know About Closed Captioning

Digital accessibility is a new—and perhaps scary—frontier for the public sector. But with citizens increasingly using the internet to connect with their government, it’s never been more important to ensure organizations are ready to provide access to all.

After Granicus sent out information about new Section 508 rules regarding closed captioning, we had a flood of questions come in. What exactly are the rules? Do they apply to me? How can I implement closed captioning? Below we’ve included some of the most-common ones that popped up.

Why should my organization care about closed captioning and accessibility?

Closed captioning is an important piece of a government agency’s overall transparency and accessibility plan. Providing the right message to the right person at the right time in the right format is the goal. Here’s how closed captioning can help achieve that:

  • Provides a way for citizens with disabilities such as hearing loss to be able to watch and understand a video stream of a meeting
  • If audio performance is poor on the citizen’s device, it can be a useful supplement to the video
  • Provides transcripts of meetings for better minutes production
  • Allows video to be searchable by spoken word
  • Keeps organizations proactive to ensure they meet current or future government requirements to be compliant/accessible

My state doesn’t have strict accessibility requirements. Why should my organization worry?

There is a patchwork of federal requirements—Section 508, ADA and those from the FCC—that have varying effects on each state and municipality. Compliance is important both to reach all of your constituents and also to protect yourself against litigation, frivolous or not.

How do I know if the updated Section 508 rules apply to my organization?

The new Section 508 rules, as written, only apply to federal agencies. But a limited number of states—a little more than a dozen—extend those rules, or a watered-down version, to public entities that receive public funds. More information can be found on the FCC’s Section 508 website or by contacting your state’s accessibility office.

What happens if my organization isn’t compliant?

While accessibility laws and rules apply to many public entities, it’s unlikely that organizations enforcing the rules are going to check with every municipality to ensure compliance. Instead, the concern at the local level is that individuals or organizations could file an ADA violation suit against a municipality. For instance, several cities in South Florida in recent years have found themselves as the target of such lawsuits.

I’m interested in adding closed captioning to my organization’s video streaming. How does Granicus’ solution work, and why should we choose it?

Granicus offers industry-leading closed captioning that works seamlessly with our Video solution. Here are some benefits:

  • Closed Captioning can be integrated into Video functionality that is fully searchable by spoken word, indexed to agenda and minutes items and cross-linked to supporting materials, providing your audience with a holistic public record.
  • Granicus Closed Captioning is ADA compliant and can be recorded in real time or added to an archived video.
    Our Live Closed Captioning is done in real time with 98 percent understandability.
  • Video is located where your constituents are already visiting: your website.
  • You have full control over the presentation. That means no ads and the ability to control disparaging public comments left on video (unlike YouTube or Facebook).
  • Granicus Video is stored on a government-secured AWS data center that isn’t available to non-government videos.
  • Closed-captioned video can be integrated into your Citizen Engagement Granicus Platform, which notifies citizens of information they need delivered to them in an accessible format.

Ready to make your video streaming more accessible to the public? Check out our Granicus Video brochure and reach out to us today!