The FCC Names Two Verbit Executives to Its Disability Advisory Committee

By: Danielle Chazen

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The Federal Communications Commission just announced the 36 members and 5 ex officio members selected to serve on its esteemed Disability Advisory Committee. Two of Verbit’s leaders, Scott Ready, Head of Global Accessibility & Inclusion and Heather York, Vice President, Marketing and Government Affairs for VITAC, a Verbit company, have been chosen. They were also assigned to the committee’s Audio Description Working Group.

As Disability Advisory Committee members, they will attend a minimum of three plenary meetings per year. They’ll gather at the FCC offices in Washington, D.C. A virtual kick-off meeting is scheduled for April 26.

“We are honored to serve this two-year term and bring a combined 50+ years of experience and knowledge on accessibility, captioning and media to the committee,” said Ready. “We’re excited and ready to begin contributing to the committee’s Audio Description Working Group. We, as well as the larger Verbit company, have been advocating for greater adoption of audio description for equity for some time now.”

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Prestigious organizations joining Verbit on the DAC

The newly-named committee is made up of diverse organizations. They represent individuals with disabilities, communications and video programming industries, the public safety industry, trade associations and researchers, among others.

York and Ready of Verbit will join executives from Apple, Amazon, T-Mobile and Verizon on the committee. Other notable organizations selected include the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), Hearing Loss Association of America, National Association of the Deaf, Consumer Technology Association. The co-chairs who will steer the committee include Kim Charlson, Executive Director of Perkins Library, Perkins School for the Blind and Kyle Dixon, Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Program Network Policy, NCTA – The Internet & Television Association.

The FCC’s nomination of Ready from Verbit and York from its media arm, VITAC, is another showcase of the mark these two leaders are making in driving accessibility and equity forward. They are well poised to create impact on the committee while working with the other organizations named to serve.

About the Disability Advisory Committee

The Disability Advisory Committee (DAC) was established by the FCC in December 2014. It was created to provide knowledgeable advice and recommendations to the Commission on disability-related issues.

The committee provides a key forum for notable stakeholders with interests in promoting accessibility to collaborate. It facilitates the participation of consumers with disabilities in proceedings before the Commission, and assists the Commission in educating the greater disability community and covered entities on disability-related matters. The DAC is charged with keeping the FCC up-to-date on current and evolving communications issues for individuals with disabilities. 

The Audio Description Working Group 

By forming an Audio Description Working Group, the fifth-term committee is showcasing its investment in the topic of audio description. AD offers equity to individuals who are Blind or have low vision. York and Ready will serve on this audio description focus group.

“This working group is asked to identify issues and best practices associated with the transmittal to and receipt of AD by video programming providers and distributors so that AD files associated with full-length programming remains available regardless of the distribution method,” wrote Jessica Rosenworcel, Chairwoman Federal Communications Commission. “The Working Group is tasked with suggesting solutions to increase the amount of AD programming online.”

The idea is to consider programs which air live on TV, as well as those viewed on-demand on streaming platforms. The working group will explore requirements as well as the necessity of consumers to access them with audio description. Without audio description, many who are Blind or have low vision are unable to enjoy programming with equity.

Thomas Wlodkowski, Comcast NBCUniversal, will chair this Working Group, and Will Schell, Disability Rights Office (DRO) Deputy Chief, and Ross Slutsky, DRO Attorney Advisor, will serve as the working group facilitators.

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What Verbit’s York and Ready bring to the table

York will bring her 20+ years of expertise on video programming requirements for both pre-recorded and live captioning. Her thorough knowledge of the technical aspects related to captioning preparation and the delivery of accessible media make her a valuable asset to the group. She has been a member of or participated in four of the past five Disability Advisory Committees. 

Ready, who was named Alternate Representative Member to the DAC, brings more than 30 years of experience in accessibility and inclusion to the group. He has worked with institutions and businesses globally to help them make their experiences and environments more accessible to individuals with disabilities. Ready grew up in the Deaf community himself, as a child of deaf adults (CODA). Both of his parents were teachers at the Missouri School for the Deaf. His first language is American Sign Language. 

DAC meetings will be open to the public with audio and video coverage, which can be accessed at www.fcc.gov/live. Members of the public may submit questions and comments to the DAC during meetings live via email: livequestions@fcc.gov. These comments or questions may be addressed during the public comment period.

To learn more about Audio Description specifically or about providing greater access to individuals with disabilities, reach out to Verbit’s team today