On November 25, 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that as of November 30, 2015, video programming distributors must ensure that emergency information provided in text scrolls on television be accessible to persons who are blind or visually impaired.
To help ensure this, the emergency information provided in the video portion of programming is now required to be accompanied by an aural tone at the start of such information. This aural tone will alert persons who are blind or visually impaired to the presence of an emergency situation, and give them the opportunity to switch to the secondary audio stream. This audio stream will then provide the emergency information aurally, in full, at least twice.
According to the FCC, examples of the types of emergencies covered include tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, tidal waves, earthquakes, icing conditions, heavy snows, widespread fires, discharge of toxic gases, widespread power failures, industrial explosions, civil disorders, school closings and changes in school bus schedules resulting from such conditions, and warnings and watches of impending changes in weather.
We all know how critical receiving this information is, so hats off to the FCC! If you are interested in specific information about communications accessibility, visit the FCC website to learn more.