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What’s new in FCC standards for online videos?


Online videos have become the norm and one of the most predominant ways of watching online media in the 21st century for the majority of individuals. Gone are the days of checking your TV guide, or even Tele-Text (for those old enough to remember) for the next available screening of your favorite TV show.

With online videos, multiple streaming services, and social networks such as You Tube being easily accessible, watching whatever we want whenever we want is a very standard aspect of modern day culture.

However, when it comes to IP video programming legislation,  the FCC  (Federal Communication Commission) have continued to work hard on improving their rules on closed captioning. Numerous updates have recently taken place in order to fall into accordance with the CVAA (Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act).

The need for clearer legislation for online video programming has been highly sought after in order to maintain a level of quality standards which is relevant for transcription companies like Verbit. As of February 20th, 2014 the FCC declared a new rule regarding content quality for closed captioning of video programming, CVAA.

Traditionally the FCC ruling has only focused on television programming; however in their report they demonstrate that the quality standards for television closed captioning has become even more so prevalent because it sets the bar for content shown online. Thus, the passage of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA) requires the following standards; anything shown on traditional television must reach the same programming standards once released as an online video.

The four new quality standards have been put in place to categorize the importance and accessibility of online video captioning. The standards are as follows; caption accuracy, caption synchronicity, program completeness, and caption placement.

We’ve broken them down in to four summaries in order to provide a clearer depiction and gain a clear understanding of each component:

Caption accuracy

According to the FCC, “In order to be accurate, captions must match the spoken words in the dialogue, in their original language (English or Spanish), to the fullest extent possible and include full lyrics when provided on the audio track.” Make perfect sense? What the FCC are stating here is that captions must mirror almost identically what is spoken in the audible content. This typically neglects the use of paraphrasing. Furthermore, the use of good grammar and spelling is also important and taken into consideration.

In order to further be deemed as accurate, captions must also emphasize the tone of voice portrayed by the speaker. They must be writing in accurate context also and the impact of the performance must not be lost in the transcribed captioning. It is worth highlighting here that this includes noises, sound effects, music etc.

Caption synchronicity

The FCC says here, “In order to be synchronous, captions must coincide with their corresponding spoken words and sounds to the greatest extent possible.” Let’s face it, we’re not human robots, therefore, the FCC has ensured captions are readable at a suitable speed for viewers. In addition, when programs are edited, the captions are reformatted to provide accurate synchronization.

Program completeness

Here, the FCC states, “In order for a program’s captions to be complete, captions must run from the beginning to the end of the program, to the fullest extent possible.” Simply, to ensure captions do not drop mid program and any which do will be within violation of the FCC standards.

Caption placement

FCC states that “captions should not block other important visual content on the screen including, but not limited to, character faces, featured text (e.g. weather or other news updates, graphics and credits), and other information that is essential to understanding a program’s content when the closed captioning feature is activated.” New standards ensure text can be clearly seen and read on the screen for viewers to see.

While online videos were also captioned at high accuracy levels, when measuring accuracy it can sometimes be subjective, therefore the FCC standards are somewhat lenient.

Further changes in FCC standards include the addition of religious organisations having to comply with new standards as of October 20th, 2011. Additionally, closed captioning requirements for IP delivered video content was placed on public video clips as of July 11, 2014.

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94.8% of students favor video transcripts

When asked to rate the online video experience, 94% of students found that implemented videos are useful and beneficial. In addition 94.8% of students would recommend the addition of video transcripts on university websites.
The main purpose of video transcripts in education is to enable and increase student engagement especially amongst disabled students. Verbit’s proprietary technology has been fine-tuned and altered in order to focus on the specific individual needs of education field. This includes transcriptions and captions which must be as accurate as possible due to the fact that they are critical for learning.

Online learning and studying remotely is becoming increasingly popular as students can now learn and access information at their convenience. The sample was an accurate demonstration of how students now aim to learn online. It was interesting to compare and contrast the preference of multi-modal learning to structured traditional learning behaviors. Hopefully, more educational institutions will embody online learning strategies and make use of time synchronized transcription solutions.

University students are happy with the useful benefits Verbit has provided with online video transcripts and research has identified some of the keys reasons why students use online videos. They are as follows:


Research has shown that students enjoy online transcribed videos because they can move at their own pace which positively impacts the learning process.   In many cases, the ability to work at a faster pace due to transcripts has meant that they are able to complete tasks in a more timely manner using features such as searching for keywords and being able to jump to specific subjects. Just as we all have the ability have everything searchable at our fingertips,  the same ability should and is being allocated to students with educational content.

A respondent stated that, “its now easier to search for particular content in the video. No more manual sliding”.

Creating Study Guides

Another benefit includes having the ability to create study guides. A simple plugin will enable students to print or download a transcription. Some content which might be downloaded include lecture notes, flash cards, course study guides, power point presentations, and text book drafts.

Understanding English as a Second Language

When learning a new or second language, multi sensory learning is always the preferred method. Studies show that when people trying to recall or learn something strictly via memory, they respond better and retain more information when using  multi sensory formats rather than just visual formats alone. Multi sensory formats provide users and learners the opportunity to understand English via text.

Analyzing research raises the question of how online interactive videos will further benefit educational institutions. As we delve deeper and deeper into a world where are lives are influenced by modern technology, online learning will only become more and more relevant and required. This evidently means that universities will need to keep their technology systems up to date in order to maintain the cost effective implementation of user controlled and user friendly interfaces.

When using interactive transcribed video, the basis of the learning experience is having the ability to click where and when needed, rewind, skip, skim, pause, highlight, download, print, and much more. This is one of the most important advantages within the transcription market and precisely why students are utilizing these interactive transcription functionalities made available byVerbit.

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