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CVAA Compliance – New Technologies Using Text-To-Speech To Deliver Audio Alerts

text to speech

Text-to-speech, a very beneficial feature for people with disabilities, has widely been seen as only that; a neat feature. But as of late last year, text-to-speech became more than that. It became a requirement by law.

Thanks to emerging technologies and a proactive approach to improve accessibility, the U.S. passed the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) in 2010. The purpose of this act was to require television broadcast stations and video programming providers to use these technologies to make information more accessible to people with disabilities, such as people who are blind or have a visual impairment.

There were several rules within this act that went into effect over time. One of the latest, known as the Audible Crawl rule, went into effect on November 30, 2015.

What is the Audible Crawl rule?

Emergency Alerts feature text to speech

The FCC are “requiring the use of 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.”

So what exactly does that mean? You know those emergency alerts you’d see on TV scrolling across the bottom of the screen? They’re the ones that often provide weather updates or AMBER alerts. This new rule is saying that broadcasters and providers must have an audio stream which converts the text to speech.

This is where text-to-speech software, or a text reader, comes into play. The TV station or programming provider must have a device in place that will read out the alert the moment they receive it. The reason for the urgency is because when a TV station receives an emergency alert, it gets instantly broadcasted over the air. A TV station can’t delay an alert from going out.

Therefore, a programming provider or television station can’t employ a voice actor 24-hours a day and have them constantly ready to announce an alert. A text-to-speech synthesizer is a must have for these companies. It needs to be in place and always ready to convert a text alert into speech.

What do I need so I can be in compliance to this rule?

ENCO Aim features NeoSpeech text to speech

(The AIM-100 automates the text-to-speech conversion process)

Thankfully, it’s getting easier and easier for TV stations and program providers to be in compliance with the new FCC regulation. Software and devices that are able to analyze and read aloud the text from emergency alerts are being released at a rapid rate.

One such product was announced last week. Enco will be unveiling their new Audio Insertion Manager (AIM-100) next month. TV stations simply hook up this device to their system and let it do the rest of the work. The AIM-100 will identify incoming text files and automatically convert it to audio as required by the FCC. NeoSpeech voices will be available on the AIM-100.

There are many other devices like this on the market, and this also gives TV stations and program providers customization options. Broadcasters can shop around find the best sounding and most natural text-to-speech voices (we wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve heard any of our NeoSpeech voices already). Gone are the days when TV viewers had to sit through and listen to those terrible “robot” voices during an emergency alert.

What about the future of text-to-speech and television?

This is where things get exciting. While text-to-speech is being used for SAP (second audio program) voices, it can be used for much more. Text-to-speech voices are becoming so realistic that soon providers will be using them for much more than just emergency alerts.

Broadcasters can allow the TTS voices to announce anything such as the news, weather updates, sport reports, and multiple-language programming. This isn’t a futuristic idea, it’s already possible today! Devices such as the AIM-100 are more than capable of handling these functions.

As we at NeoSpeech continue to push the limits of high-quality text-to-speech voices, we look forward to hearing our voices more and more in the world around us as companies continue to improve accessibility in each of our daily lives.

Want us to prove how realistic our voices are? Go to our home page and type any text you wish to be spoken by any of our 30+ voices in any of our 7 available languages!

This blog post just covered one small part of the CVAA. There are many other regulations that must be abided by. Thankfully, we’ve covered every part of the CVAA already. Are you from a television station or a multi-channel video programming distributor (MVPD)? Then look no further than here to learn how you can remain in compliance with the FCC. Read any of our blogs on the CVAA below!


What do you think?

If you’re a broadcaster or provider, what are you doing to make sure you are compliant with the CVAA? As for everyone else, have you noticed any of these accessibility improvements? Let us know in the comments!

Learn More about NeoSpeech’s Text-to-Speech

To learn more about the different areas in which Text-to-Speech technology can be used, visit our Text-to-Speech Areas of Application page. And to learn more about the products we offer, visit our Text-to-Speech Products page.

If you’re interested in adding Text-to-Speech software to your application or would like to learn more about TTS, please fill out our Sales Inquiry form and one of our friendly team members will be happy to help.

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