W3C Publishes Internet Media Profiles for Accessibility

The beginning of 2016 has seen a number of efforts to provide audiovisual content accessibility for hearing impaired individuals. Although relevant regulations for this matter have existed since the 1990s in countries such as the UK and Canada, today different initiatives are still trying to find efficient ways to achieve more accessibility to content and devices for disabled audiences.

Last December, the W3C published a document presenting the needs of users with disabilities related to audio and video, content technologies for accessibility and how to apply them in the production process. This documentation was followed in January by the US FCC’s new rules to increase accessibility for the hearing impaired by guaranteeing the creation of usable and accessible wireless handsets.

Now, the Timed Text Working Group of  W3C has issued a new document with recommendations related to TTML Profiles for Internet Media Subtitles and Captions 1.0 (IMSC1). The objective of these formats is to promote interoperability and a homogenous use of accessibility features such as subtitles and captions in worldwide media.

It is important to bear in mind that subtitling and captioning generate substantial benefits for the hearing impaired population, but its impact is actually much broader. According to research conducted by UK regulator Ofcom in 2006, captioning and subtitling in broadcast television not only allows accessibility for disabled users. It also helps a significant portion of the overall audience to better understand the meaning of the contents they are watching.

Additional Sources: Ofcom,  GAATES,  3playmedia,  W3C