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NPR Labs At CES 2011: Moving Radio Captioning Forward

Federal law mandates that television broadcasts accommodate deaf and hard of hearing consumers with the captioning of shows. Why not radio?

That's a question we have been pondering (and struggling with) at NPR Labs. We're well on the way to finding some answers and we'd like you to join the conversation as we move forward.

At CES 2011 in Las Vegas next week, NPR Labs will be hosting the annual Radio with Vision Showcase. This year it will — among other things — feature a conversation with mobile app developers on how best to advance our captioning project.

The ever-spreading digital revolution has made it possible to deliver radio broadcasts concurrently with a text feed of the audio. It is important to NPR that we take steps to be inclusive, making radio something that can be shared between deaf individuals and the hearing world around them.

We took a big step toward this goal during our 2008 election-night coverage when we successfully distributed captioned-radio programming to a national audience for the first time.

We think an open-source approach to radio captioning could spark the beginning of a global movement to bring radio to millions of people who lack hearing. (Our proposal for a global captioned standard for radio transmissions is nearing adoption at the ITU).

We plan to establish working relationships with developers for iOS, Android and web apps, in addition to any other appropriate platforms.  We are looking forward to an enthusiastic discussion at CES to kick off this new stage of our Accessible Radio initiative.

Information about the Radio with Vision Showcasewhich runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on January 5 at CES in Las Vegascan be found on our website: nprlabs.org.

Developers are invited to join us throughout the day, including lunch (RSVP). The session specifically addressing mobile platforms begins at 2 p.m. See you there!

NPR Labs is a research and development group that focuses on making terrestrial radio a better experience for as many people as we can. We pioneered work on multicast HD Radio streams in the first half of the decade. Now we're working to make radio captioning a reality.

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