Expanded Live Captioning for Tokyo Olympics Marks an Accessibility Milestone

By: Sarah Roberts

The Olympics’ spirit of inclusivity is extending to viewers with an unprecedented level of accessibility being offered to this year’s audience. NBC has increased its commitment to providing greater captioning, audio description and digital accommodations for its Olympics coverage, particularly that of content being live-streamed.

Improved accessibility services will also be offered for the Paralympic Games, ensuring that the event is available to the broadest possible audience. Thanks to innovative technology, millions of individuals with disabilities will be able to watch the Olympics and its related live streaming events with greater equity.

People having a swimming race on a Olympic size pool.

Closed Captioning for Live Streaming the Olympics

Closed captioning, a vital accommodation for viewers who are Deaf or head of hearing, was provided previously, but this is the first time that NBC will provide the service for all live streaming broadcasts. Now, those who rely on captions will be able to enjoy the excitement of watching the competition as the events unfold.

The addition of closed captions on all live events will be a welcomed update for many other viewers as well. Captions offer accessibility to not only the Deaf and hard of hearing. Viewers watching in a non-native language also benefit from captioning. Additionally, many people find they better comprehend content when they have the text available in addition to audio. Captions also fit the way that many people consume content in the digital age- be it in public, on trains or in other environments where the audio cannot be played out loud.

Expanding Audio Description Services for Primetime Olympic Events

Audio description services add a voiceover that describes scenes and offers context for Blind and visually impaired audience members. NBC is expanding audio description to cover all programs airing during primetime as well as the opening and closing ceremonies.

The broadcaster’s audio description services will be available on a Secondary Audio Program channel. For the Paralympics, NBC will provide this service for all programming.
A phone showing word Tokyo.

Marking An Important Web Accessibility Milestone

When the producers of an event as iconic as the Olympics double down on accessibility measures, it doesn’t go unnoticed. Not only will captioning be added to the live streams but greater accessibility will be granted as viewers check in on their favorite events online.

NBC is offering improved web accessibility on NBCOlympics.com and the NBC Sports app for this year’s games to accommodate a wider audience. Some of the features the broadcaster will provide include color contrast, support for screen readers and keyboard navigation.

The Olympics serve to bridge the gap between diverse people. Offering improved accessibility will add to that objective and ensure that a larger audience can take part in the excitement of watching the world’s top athletes compete “in the spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”

Companies like Verbit and VITAC help to support accessibility for events as iconic as the Olympics, as well as smaller business conferences, by putting innovative captioning and real-time technology to use. Verbit’s live captioning service and audio description solution, for example, help broadcasters ensure their programming adheres to legal requirements while accommodating as many viewers as possible. To learn more, contact us today.