Winter 2014

In This Issue
New Closed Captioning Rules from the FCC
TTE's Service Suite Includes Captioning
5 Strategies for Creating a "Noise-Free" Transcript
Choosing the Cloud: Asking the Right Questions

Accuracy, synchronicity, program completeness, and placement are key components in new non-technical quality standards for television and video programming closed captioning. The new United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules also address technical issues regarding closed captioning. The FCC first adopted closed captioning rules to improve programming accessibility for individuals with hearing impairments more than 16 years ago.


In February 2014, accessibility took another step forward for people who have a hearing loss as the FCC approved and released new rules through a Report and Order, clarified existing rules in a Declaratory Ruling, and sought additional comments on captioning issues with a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 14-12).


The four non-technical quality standards in the commission's Report and Order establish a benchmark, "which make sure that closed captioning fully and effectively conveys the content of programming for the deaf and hard-of-hearing in the same way audio conveys that content to the hearing community," feels Commissioner Mignon L. Clyburn, according to his Statement.


Here's how the Report and Order defines those four closed captioning non-technical quality standards of accuracy, synchronicity, program completeness, and placement:

  • accuracy: captions must reflect the dialogue and other sounds and music in the audio track to the fullest extent possible based on the type of the programming, and must identify the speakers
  • synchronicity: captions must coincide with their corresponding dialogue and other sounds to the fullest extent possible based on the type of programming, and must appear at a speed that can be read by viewers
  • program completeness: captions must run from the beginning to the end of the program, to the fullest extent possible, based on the type of the programming
  • placement: captions may not cover up other important on-screen information, such as character faces, featured text, graphics, or other information essential to the understanding or accessing of a program's content  

Captioning quality is also addressed in sections on the application of standards to types of programming, program re-feeds, and best practices. In addition, the document describes:

  • near-live programming as programming that is performed and recorded within 24 hours prior to when it is first aired on television

The Report and Order also addresses:

  • Electronic Newsroom Technique (ENT)
  • video programming distributor technical rules (equipment monitoring, maintenance, and record keeping),
  • multicast streams
  • exemptions (qualifications and electronic filing requirements)  

The Declaratory Ruling clarifies rulings on:

  • bilingual English and Spanish language programming
  • video programming distributor contact information required
  • on-demand programming
  • low power television (LPTV) requirements  

The Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeks additional comments for discussion on:

  • minimum standards
  • compliance issues
  • exemptions
  • structure of captioning responsibilities
  • ENT and non-broadcast channels
  • technical standards
  • new technologies
  • 3D television programming  

As the commission sought to improve caption quality, it also tried to not put an undue burden on providers, according to Commissioner Michael O'Rielly. "This item is a result of a tremendous amount of input and cooperation from industry participants and from the advocacy community. It strives to achieve a workable balance, and I am, therefore, pleased to support it," says O'Rielly in his Statement.


At the commission's February 2014 Open Meeting, commissioners heard from two community members. Commissioners also acknowledged and thanked many individuals, organizations, and government agencies during that February Open Meeting who had been part of this work in some way, including: National Cable and Telecommunications Association, National Association of Broadcasters, Motion Picture Association of America, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau and the Disabilities Rights Office, Media Bureau, Enforcement Bureau, Office of the General Counsel, the Technology Law & Policy Clinic at Colorado Law School, the National Association of the Deaf, and the Hearing Loss Association of America.


Thrilled with the work that has been done so far, Chairman Tom Wheeler also recognizes there is work still to be done. "This remains a work in progress," says Wheeler in his Statement on Closed Captioning. He goes on later in his comments to say, "We will, of course, revisit the path that we've forged here to adjust it as new information becomes available." 


One of the areas Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel would like to see access and captioning improved upon in the future is television video clips. And Commissioner Ajit Pai has proposed an FCC Dashboard, one of the items for comment in the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.


The commission has set an effective date of January 15, 2015, according to O'Rielly's Statement. "I am pleased that the commission has set an effective date of January 15, 2015, so that all the pieces can come together at the same time, which will make compliance easier," he says. And for Wheeler, there is excitement and hope as the commission continues to address the issue of programming accessibility for all.    


The documents and statements related to this ruling, and referred to for this article, can be found at the FCC website.  


In our last newsletter, we announced the addition of captioning to TTE' suite of services. Here are links to our website captioning page and the press release in case you haven't had a chance to read the news yet. TTE's February 2014 blog post also includes links to the new FCC rule documents on television and video programming, as well as commissioners' statements. 


Paper doesn't make a sound - unless it is being shuffled, rustled, filed, or stacked during a meeting or dictation that is being recorded. "Noise" can come across in a variety of ways on an audio file, and minimizing that noise helps make both a more effective audio recording and a "noise-free" transcript. Implement the five strategies below to keep the "noise" out of the audio and your transcript.

  1. Smile as you talk. Frowning faces and furrowed foreheads reverberating across air waves can become a grating noise like fingernails across a chalkboard.

  2. Use the right equipment. Many recording devices are on the market now. Evaluate a recording device's features and technical capabilities like microphone range and radius, voice clarity technology, and system interfacing capabilities to make sure the piece of equipment is the right fit for you and your specific audio event. A longtime fan of Polycom® units, TTE CEO Terry Thompson likes their conference phones. And for mobile capture and transcription upload, TTE's IdeaScribe® app is a great choice.

  3. Embrace quietness. Search for as quiet an area as possible to record your audio. And it's more than simply being inside or outside - a busy restaurant or office multi-tasking can have just as much background noise as a park bench on Main Street. When you are not the one speaking during a conference call, use the mute feature rather than the hold button to avoid recorded music being played while people are talking.

  4. Avoid office multi-tasking. Microphones can pick up shutting doors, squeaky drawers, scraping chairs, symphonies of paper movement, sticky keyboard keys, and sumptuous feasts. Resist the temptation to multi-task or use the hold button on your phone, and stay engaged with the audio being recorded.

  5. Lose the ums, ahs, and beeps. Filler words like um and ah increase the audio and transcription time. Think through what you are going to say before you speak and be concise. If a moment is needed to think, briefly pause instead of inserting a filler word. And since a phone's call waiting beep could block out a crucial word at just the wrong time, silence any call waiting signals before you start recording.  

This article was originally published as a post on the TTE blog. Click here  to read more of our blog. Recent topics include language and captioning: 

  • "The Beauty of Language"  
  • "Embracing Captioning - The Who and The How" 
  • "Hearing by Seeing"  

The Cloud - it's a hot topic and trend in technology today. Many Fortune 500 companies have already embraced the Cloud concept for their information technology (IT) and data management systems. Now licensing options are making that technology increasingly viable for small to midsized companies. What questions and answers do you need to have about your company and outsourcing IT as you consider using the Cloud for IT solutions and data management?


TTE recently talked to Adam Citron, Senior Cloud Computing Strategist of Adar IT to find out. Passionate about technology, Citron loves working with business owners. "There's a passion they have that's different," he says. And, he loves seeing the impact of great services and products in their business benefit them directly. Like most company decisions though, deciding to go to the Cloud is a multi-faceted decision evaluating internal, external, broad, and specific factors.


Current workflow, tools used, and business goals are three internal areas of assessment. In relation to workflow, evaluate how the work is done operationally and procedurally, but also from the user's perspective. Will employees be working onsite, remotely, or a combination of both? Observe where employees tend to work - at their own desk, at someone else's desk, in their lap while not at their desk, standing up at a counter or high table, at a library, or in a coffee shop. Do they need to see work they are doing on desktops, tablets, or other devices in real-time or is a time lag acceptable?


Overlapping workflow considerations are the tools used. "People may want to bring in their own device to work and use their own iPad as well as sitting at the desk. They want more flexibility on where they can work from depending on the position," says Citron. He's also seeing a bigger focus on having creative office spaces where you're not bound to a particular desk or space. The age of hardware equipment factors into the decision too. When equipment needs to be replaced might be a better time to go to the Cloud than if you just made a significant capital investment in new tools.


Software is also a key consideration here. "When companies are looking to go to the Cloud, one of the most important things is will we still function the same? Can we still run our day-to-day business the same way that we've been running our day-to-day business?" says Citron. "So, one of the most critical factors is the type of software a company is using." Not all software is an ideal Cloud fit yet for small to midsized companies outsourcing contexts. One example is graphic-intensive software programs, according to Citron. While this challenge can be handled for a small number of users, it can be more of a challenge when the need is system-wide across the company for most users. Also, cost could be a factor if significant reconfiguration programming is needed.


Workflow and Tool Question Checklist:

  • Type of workflow operations and procedures?
  • Number of system users?
  • Workspace layout desired?
  • Devices used for work projects?
  • Software system load anticipated?
  • Specific software programs required?
  • Software licensing needed?
  • Age of computer hardware and software?
  • Recent IT investments?
  • Reconfiguration programming necessary? 
Company goals and plans are a third area of internal assessment. Mergers, acquisitions, or a company sale would impact technology decisions. Work force changes, new locations, or a company move would also impact technology decisions. "There are certain pieces like moving, adding locations that are significantly cheaper when you're in the Cloud," says Citron. "So, getting a good understanding of your business plan and where you're going is important."


Company Goals Question Checklist:

  • Ownership changes?
  • Leadership changes?
  • Work force changes?
  • Location additions or changes?  

As you broaden the scope of your decision beyond the company walls and externally to the outsourcing aspect of IT and the Cloud, key areas here are security, equipment, and customer service. "When someone puts data and their livelihood in the Cloud, they want to know that you are a well-backed company," says Citron. "They want to know that you have a great data center behind you and that they're very secure and that it's not just a server in someone's basement."  For Adar IT that means multiple data centers; frequent data back-ups; redundancy in systems, power supplies, and Internet connections; and client security policies and procedures.


Making sure you have a good, and redundant if possible, Internet connection as well as a strong enough bandwidth to support the Cloud and number of users is also important, according to Citron. On a customer service side, how easily is the company able to change the number of users on the system when new employees come in or others leave? Find out what the procedure would be for equipment repair or maintenance and if there would be an extra cost to it.


Outsourcing and Cloud Checklist:

  • Redundancy elements in place?
  • Scalability options offered?
  • Frequency of data back-ups?
  • Bandwidth available at your location?
  • Equipment included by service provider?
  • Equipment repair and maintenance responsibility?

And last but not least, a good match for any outsourcing project is a company you like, trust, and who offers the kind of support you want.



Joining Adar IT in 2013, Adam brings more than thirteen years of successful sales, marketing and managerial experience to the organization. Adam's strengths include carefully listening to customer needs so Adar IT can  deliver a solution that offers maximum value, and developing long-term, successful relationships. Pre-Adar, he was a Partner at Netrix LLC, an IT solutions firm for four years. Prior to that experience, Adam had his own company for six years on Chicago's North Shore focusing on helping his small business clients with their IT and Marketing needs. Adam holds a Computer Science degree from Roosevelt University.



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