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FCC’s Deadline for Text-to-Speech is Approaching: November 30th 2015

Boy using a tablet with NeoSpeech text to speechIs your business ready for the FCC’s new Text-to-Speech rule? Are all your products easily accessible for people with disabilities? The deadline for compliance to the FCC’s Text-to-Speech rule is November 30th!

The Text-to-Speech rule, which is also known as the Audible Crawl rule, requires television broadcast stations and multi-channel video programming distributors (MVPDs) to enable all emergency information to be easily accessible to people with disabilities.

This is part of Title 2 of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA). The CVAA was passed into law in 2010 to enable people with disabilities to use emerging technologies, such as smart phones, tablets, smart TVs and more. Many regulations within the CVAA have come into effect already, but the Text-to-Speech rule doesn’t come into effect until the end of this month. Are you prepared?

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What Exactly Are The New Regulations?

Effective November 30th 2015, the FCC requires broadcasters and MVPDs to use “a secondary audio stream to convey televised emergency information aurally, when such information is conveyed visually during programming other than newscasts, for example, in an on-screen crawl.”

To be clear, these regulations:

  • Require an aural presentation of emergency information that is provided visually in non-newscast programming to be available on a secondary audio stream
  • Require the use of an aural tone to precede emergency information on the main program audio, and now also require use of the aural tone to precede emergency information on the secondary audio stream
  • Permit the use text-to-speech (“TTS”) technologies as a method for providing an aural rendition of emergency information, and impose qualitative requirements if TTS is used
  • Require that emergency information provided aurally on the secondary audio stream be conveyed at least twice in full
  • Require that emergency information supersede all other programming on the secondary audio stream

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For example, if an episode of a popular television show is currently showing and a broadcaster displays an emergency weather update scrolling across the bottom of the screen, the emergency information must be accessible on a secondary audio stream. The broadcasters would also need to present an aural tone, usually a three second tone sound, on the main audio stream that alerts individuals that they can listen to the secondary audio steam and play the emergency information at least twice in full.

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What Qualifies as Emergency Information?

The FCC defines emergency information as “information about an emergency intended to further the protection of life, health, safety, and property.” This includes:

  • Tornadoes and Hurricanes
  • Tidal Waves
  • Floods
  • Earthquakes
  • Heavy Snows or Snowstorms
  • Power Failures
  • Industrial Explosions
  • School Closings (and changes to bus schedules due to such closings)
  • and Civil Disorders

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However, the FCC is rather vague about what constitutes as emergency information, so we recommend implementing a secondary audio stream for all information that could be considered emergency information or contacting the FCC if you are unsure.

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Should You Consider Using Text-to-Speech for this?

Definitely! Text-to-Speech takes all the hassle out of creating and maintaining a secondary audio stream. The whole system can be set up to run automatically, day and night, to ensure that your business and broadcasting is always up to standard.

NeoSpeech’s Text-to-Speech is perfect for automatically and seamlessly providing audio emergency updates with high quality, human-like synthesized voices. We take all the hard work out of providing a secondary audio stream for your broadcasts.

Contact our sales team through the Sales Inquiry page and they’ll be happy to help you implement a Text-to-Speech solution or answer any questions you have.

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Learn More

If you are unsure if your product or service has to comply with the CVAA’s regulations, you can contact the FCC here to discuss your business needs or contact us to discuss any questions you might have.

To learn more, you can take a look at our in-depth articles on the CVAA below or you can click here to see the Official Guide to the CVAA.

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Related Articles

dIntroducing the FCC’s Accessibility Regulations

The Basics of Title 2 of the CVAA: Video Programming

What Does Your Business Need to Do? How to Get Up to Date with the CVAA

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