THAT television is standard entertainment fare for Filipinos is certainly an understatement. It is natural for us to wish that all our relatives and friends will equally enjoy the stories told over television, complete with all melody and sound. But, it is likewise true that we have close to us fellow Filipinos who are hard of hearing or have difficulty reading. Fortunately, through the initiative of Senator Grace Poe, our country now has a “closed captioning” law – Republic Act No. 10905.
Closed captioning has been defined as the visual display of the audio portion of video programming. (c.f. https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/captioning-internet-video-programming.html, last accessed 23 August 2016). It attempts to “mirror” through words and symbols all that can be heard from the television set. Hence, words like “music playing” alongside a visual rendering of musical notes will appear on the screen to capture the audio experience for the hearing impaired. The accurate translation into words of dialogue can also help those who may have difficulties in language facility.As far as RA 10905 is concerned, it succinctly defines “closed caption” as a “method of subtitling television programs by coding statements as vertical data signal that are decoded at the receiver and superimposed at the bottom of the television screen” (§ 2 [a]).
Not all programming, however, are required to do closed captioning.
Exemptions are: (a) public service announcements that are shorter than 10 minutes; (b) programs shown from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m.; (c) programs that are primarily textual in nature; and (d) when compliance will be economically burdensome. (§ 3, RA 10905) Closed captioning is considered economically burdensome if its implementation will result in significant difficulty or expense according to the following factors: (a) nature and cost; (b) impact on the operation of the provider or producer; (c) financial resources of the provider or producer; and (d) type of operations of the provider or producer. (§ 2 [b], ibid.)
The MTRCB has been tasked, in consultation with the National Telecommunications Commission(NTC) and other concerned agencies and entities, to promulgate the Implementing Rules and Regulations for RA 10905. I am proud to say that we have already started the process for this.
In any case, we at the MTRCB are hopeful that the implementation of RA 10905 will just be the start of many more media-related innovations for the inclusion and empowerment for Persons with Disability (PWD).
Closed captioning can also be done for movie houses. (Incidentally, it is already a feature for many VOD [Video on Demand] platforms.) There is also the technology of “descriptive audio” for the visually impaired, which can be done across various media. At this point though, I can only say that the MTRCB is blessed with boththe mission and duty to be a significant player for inclusion and media accessibility – all consistent with the norm of upholding the dignity of the human person