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Captioning Goes Beyond Television (1991 – 2001)

(1991) Captioning vendors help design new Line 21 decoder display standards for FCC. The Caption Center establishes the Media Access Research and Development Office – a pioneering facility dedicated to examining the needs and desires of underserved viewing audiences. The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) takes over administration of CFV material selection and removes “for the deaf” designation to be more inclusive of the hard of hearing community. Zenith Electronics Corp. is the first manufacturer to develop television models with a built-in captioning chip since the first TeleCaption TV sets were sold. NCI develops Line 21 decoder microchip with hopes to be placed in all new television sets manufactured under the Decoder Chip Act. ACC creates the National Working Party on Captioning in Australia.

(1992) NTSC develops captioning standards with service providers, FCC and EIA. Canada Captions, Inc. formed for raising funds for closed captioning in Canada. Czech Television begins captioning. Hillsborough County Florida and Fremont, California becomes the first county and city, respectively, to caption real-time all government and school board meetings, funded by a surcharge on all cable TV bills. Cheetah releases CAPtivator Offline, a post-production captioning system.

(1993) President Clinton’s Inauguration is first live event to have both captioning and DVS on PBS accessible for viewers with hearing or vision disabilities. The National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) is formed as the research arm of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and WGBH-TV. One of its early achievements is the development of the Rear Window Captioning System to display movie captions off the back wall of the theaters onto reflectors. There are more than 750 hours of captioning a week on network programs and more than 5,000 captioned home videos. The Television Decoder Circuitry Act takes effect as all televisions larger than 13” in diameter sold in the United States include captioning decoder circuitry. TRIPOD begins captioning 35mm feature films for special open-captioned movie screenings. Australia begins live captioning.

(1994) The Caption Center introduces relocatable roll-up captioning during the Winter Olympic Games for CBS, which ensures that important action or graphics are not obscured with captions. First Rear Window system installed at the Langley IMAX theater at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. CFV develops booklet Captioning Key: Guidelines and Preferred Techniques. The Information Superhighway Speech by Vice President Al Gore becomes the first live event to be captioned over the Internet. CAP-Media creates software for captioning, indexing, annotating and analyzing digital video and audio. Silent Network and America’s Disability Channel merge into Kaleidoscope Television.

(1995) Live! With Derek McGinty from Discovery becomes the first regularly captioned regular Internet program. Kaleidoscope Television goes 24/7 – fully captioned, including all programs, commercial, and anything with dialogue is 100% captioned – voluntarily (prior to regulations) with private funds and no government assistance. BBC develops a system that addresses the low supply of realtime captioners by combining precaptioned portions with real-time captioning and expands to provide captioning for regional newscasts in the United Kingdom. NAD assumes distribution of CFV materials.

(1996) The Society of Motion Pictures & Television Engineers forms a task force to develop captioning standards on MPEG and DVD formats. Real-Time Reporters send captions over Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channel and web page simultaneously. Movie Access Coalition, a subcommittee of the NAD established. Telecommunications Act of 1996 mandates closed captioning on television programming.

(1997) President Clinton’s second inauguration speech is the first live event to be captioned on both television and the Internet simultaneously. Microsoft announces new Synchronized Accessible Multimedia Interchange (SAMI) computer and multimedia software captioning standards. The Caption Center celebrates its 25th anniversary. Gary Robson writes a book on the industry called Inside Captioning and receives the Saks Award from TDI. Since 1993, Tripod distributes three to five captioned film prints for 25 movies. Rear Window® Caption display system premieres in California, offering movie captioning and descriptive narration. Captioned radio debuts in Japan.

(1998) Caption TV, Inc. develops Detection/Deletion Parental Control device to block profanity on television by muting audio and blanking captions when swear words appear in the dialogue. CFV introduces open captioned CD-ROMs and other multimedia software, and changes its name once again to Captioned Media Program (CMP). Direct-studio distribution of open-captioned movie prints began. Activision releases first closed captioned video game Zork Grand Inquisitor.

(1999) The Caption Center at WGBH closed captioned five feature movies, which premiered that year in 10 Rear Window-equipped theaters throughout the country. In collaboration with the Caption Center, Lucent Digital Video creates open interface specifications for digital television captioning. Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia CD-ROMs include multi-media video captioning. VITAC expands national presence in local news captioning with MetroCaption services in San Francisco and Atlanta. MultiMedia Designs, Inc. develop captioning glasses in which captions appear on a screen inside the lens of one eye. $AVE_ON_TV.COM, a media ad placement service offers closed captioning sponsorships to help producers offset captioning costs. People for Better Television poll reveals that most television viewers support broadcasters licensing obligations to the community, including closed captioning and video descriptive services, in exchange for use of public airwaves. Italy experiments with realtime captioning. BBC commits to full captioning service by 2010.

(2000) FCC launches beta version of in-house real-time Internet captioning to make Open Meetings and public forums accessible to Internet users with hearing disabilities. AbleTV.net, a web-based global TV network for the disabled, brings ADA 10th anniversary torch events and political conventions with “webcaptioning” technology on the Internet. Air Force News becomes the first military funded regular programming to use captioning. Kaleidoscope Television shuts down. The Weather Channel begins 20 hours of captioning on its all-weather cable network. VITAC joins Legalink to form WordWave. Two class-action lawsuits were filed in Portland, Oregon and Washington, DC against movie theaters for not accommodating patrons who request captioning. The Coalition for Movie Captioning (CMC) emerges as a force for access at local cinemas. FCC establishes phase-in schedule for captioning of digital television programming.

(2001) Several captioning providers start streaming video captioning on the Internet. WGBH’s National Center for Accessible Media publishes guidelines for making software accessible to deaf or blind users. WGBH and VITAC expand their services to include video description for viewers with visual impairments. Digital Theater Systems, an established theatrical sound system vendor inaugurates its Cinema Subtitling System (DTS-CSS) with a pilot showing of Pearl Harbor during the TDI Conference in Sioux Falls. Connecticut attempts to introduce legislation requiring captioned movies, which failed to pass. CMP joins forces with MovieFlix.com, an Internet website, to bring classic feature films and television programs online with open captioning. New laws mandate increased captioning in Canada and Australia. BBC experiments with using revoicing through automatic speech recognition for live captioning. NHK in Japan starts revoicing for an entertainment program, Kohaku Utagassen.