Friday, July 11, 2008

Press Release: Digital Television And Video Description


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, or

We want to hear from you...
NCAM has established a one-way e-mail address,, 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.

About NCAM and WGBH
The WGBH - Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media is a research, development and advocacy entity that works to make existing and emerging technologies accessible to all audiences. NCAM is part of the Media Access Group at WGBH, which also includes The Caption Center (est. 1972), and Descriptive Video Service® (est. 1990). For more information, visit

WGBH Boston is America's preeminent public broadcasting producer, the source of fully one-third of PBS's prime-time lineup, along with some of public television's best-known lifestyle shows and children's programs and many public radio favorites. For more information, visit the WGBH Web site,

Mary Watkins
Director of Communications and Outreach
Media Access Group at WGBH
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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