NVA Guidance Regulation .07

Nonvisual Access Guidance: Regulation .07 Video and multimedia products

(a) Audio Described Training and Informational Media

This guidance has been excerpted from federal implementation guidelines for Section 508 Standards.
http://www.access-board.gov/sec508/guide/1194.24.htm. Minor changes to the federal guidelines may have been made in order to comply with Maryland regulations.

What is a multimedia production?
The term "multimedia productions" refers to productions that present information in more than one sensory mode, e.g., both audibly and visually. For instance, streaming video with a soundtrack is a multimedia production. A show broadcast through a radio station is audio only and therefore not covered by this captioning requirement. However, the procurement of information technology necessary to operate the radio station would be covered under the standard.

What does it mean for a video or multimedia production to "support the agency’s mission?"
Video and multimedia products that "support the agency’s mission" are generally required to be captioned and audio-described. For instance, a training film regarding how agency personnel should determine an applicant’s eligibility for benefits, is a training production that supports the agency’s mission. A video of a retirement celebration, on the other hand, would not be "in support of an agency's mission" and is not covered by these provisions.

Raw videotaped footage recorded by a field investigator to document a safety violation could be considered a film "in support of an agency’s mission". However, it is not a "production" and therefore does not need to be captioned or audio described. On the other hand, if such footage were subsequently incorporated into agency training or an informational presentation, it would have to be captioned and audio described.

When are captioning and audio descriptions required?
Captioning and audio descriptions are only required to be provided when important to understand the audio or visual components of a video or multimedia production. That is, even if a production "supports the agency’s mission," only those audio portions that are necessary for the comprehension of the production’s content need to be captioned.

Ex: A videotaped lecture would need to capture the lecturer’s words in captions if it is intended to be used for future training, but the captions need not also relate that students’ chairs were squeaking or that the door at the back of the room was closing loudly as people exited.

Similarly, only those visual portions that are necessary for the comprehension of the production’s content need to be audio described.

Ex: A videotaped lecture would need to include an audio description of graphics the lecturer draws on a chalkboard to illustrate a point, but would not need to include an audio description of the strictly verbal portion of the lecture.

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(b) Audio Descriptions

This guidance has been excerpted from federal implementation guidelines for Section 508 Standards.
http://www.access-board.gov/sec508/guide/1194.24.htm. Minor changes to the federal guidelines may have been made in order to comply with Maryland regulations.

Does this provision apply differently to audio description than it does to captioning?
Audio description on VHS format videos is permanently encoded and is always "on." CD-ROMs, DVDs, and other digital forms of multimedia can support alternate audio channels for audio description. Using SMIL (Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language) or other emerging technologies, audio description will likely be more easily integrated into digital multimedia presentations in the near future.

Another point bundled in this provision relates to difficulty users have reported with independently enabling audio description. The means of choosing alternate tracks for audio description varies by the medium, but usually involves selection from an on-screen menu. Therefore those menus must be made audible or otherwise readily selectable so that people with visual disabilities can independently gain access to audio descriptions.

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