The end of the year often is a time for reflection — a chance to pause and take stock of the year that was, and an opportunity to look ahead. It’s a time to celebrate the successes of the past 365 days and consider future challenges.
As always, 2022 was another busy year for VITAC. We captioned more than 580,000 hours of programming this year and made some of the biggest broadcast events of the year accessible to all audiences.
Big Games, Big Events
VITAC provided captions for 2022’s biggest sporting events, including the Olympic Winter Games and Paralympic Winter Games, Super Bowl LVI, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, and hundreds of NFL and college football games, just to highlight a few.
We provided captions for more than 1,400 hours of programs and events for the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games in English and Spanish across all NBCUniversal and its affiliated television platforms – NBC, NBC Sports Network, CNBC, USA Network, and Peacock. The Beijing games marked the 14th Olympics captioned by VITAC, including, most recently, the Olympic Games in PyeongChang (2018), Rio (2016), Sochi (2014), London (2012), Vancouver (2010), Beijing (2008), and Athens (2004).
We also captioned nearly every snap of the NFL season including Super Bowl LVI between the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals. In addition to covering pre-game, game, and post-game activities, VITAC captioners also wrote for the halftime show which featured for the first time deaf musicians signing the performance. We also provided captions inside SoFi Stadium — displaying text of in-stadium announcements, game calls, penalties, promotions, and anything else broadcast over the public address system — on scoreboards and ribbon boards for fans in attendance at the big game.
VITAC and accessibility partner Audio Eyes also provided live audio description for a number of awards shows in 2022, including the 75th Annual Tony Awards and 64th Annual Grammy Awards on CBS, the 94th Oscars on ABC, and the 28th Screen Actor Guild Awards on TNT and TBS. The addition of audio description, which provides audio-narrated descriptions of a program’s key visual elements, ensures that viewers who are blind or with low vision will be able to take in all the action occurring on the screen, and provides a much richer experience of the event.
Operating as Verbit’s media and entertainment arm, VITAC was thrilled to welcome new partners – and members of the growing Verbit family – to the fold this year.
We began working with U.S. Captioning Company in May. U.S. Captioning provides closed captioning services for national TV stations, networks, producers, and programmers, and offers post-production captioning in more than 45 languages.
VITAC also partnered in July with Take 1, a leader in transcription, access, and localization services for the media and entertainment sector, headquartered in the UK. The company specializes in start-to-finish transcription and captioning services for video content and is an experienced provider of localization and access services to the media and entertainment industry.
Though part of VITAC since 2020, SOVO Technologies officially become VITAC Canada in 2022. Operating from our Montréal-based operations center, VITAC Canada is a leading provider of live and offline captioning, transcription, and accessibility solutions to broadcasters, government organizations, and enterprises across Canada and North America.
We continued to invest in infrastructure and developing new technologies, always with our clients and caption viewers in mind.
In 2022, we were thrilled to announce a new live television ASR captioning solution specifically developed for the local news market.
Combining VITAC’s more than 35 years of TV captioning experience with Verbit’s technical expertise, our proprietary ASR solution is built on a custom, adaptable, and always-trained engine developed by captioning, speech, and machine-learning experts. It was created in-house specifically for broadcasters, networks, content creators, and media and entertainment clients and will include a variety of media-focused features that exceed industry standard ASR and meet caption quality regulations.
Commitment to Advocates, Accessibility
VITAC’s goal always has been and continues to be centered around providing more access, more information, and more ways to communicate, thereby creating a more inclusive world serving all people — deaf and hearing — by enabling information access to all.
To that end, as we have for the past three decades, VITAC continued to work with caption viewers, advocacy groups, consumer organizations, and broadcasters, and attended several important industry conferences and events in 2022.
We took part in an FCC video programming accessibility forum exploring the state of online audio description, including current best practices and technical issues to overcome.
VITAC presented at both the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) shows in Las Vegas and New York this year. Covering broadcast, cable, streaming, and satellite TV, film, radio, production, and post-production, NAB always is great way to catch up on the newest trends and offerings in the industry and get the chance to connect with old friends and colleagues.
And with our new partners at Take 1, we presented for the first time at IBC Show 2022 in Amsterdam, and answered captioning, subtitling, transcription, and audio description questions, and provided updates on the latest accessibility trends in the media and entertainment industry. IBC is geared towards broadcasters, content creators/providers, equipment manufacturers, professional and technical associations, among others, in the broadcasting, entertainment and technology industry. Additionally, Take 1’s Access Service Manager Scott Henderson took part in a panel discussion that talked about, among other things, how content can be more accessible, diversity and inclusion obligations, and the overall user experience.
We also were happy to meet with advocates and members of the deaf and hard of hearing community at this year’s Hearing Loss Association of America convention in Tampa, Florida, and the M-Enabling Summit in Washington, D.C. Both events highlighted the latest accessible technologies and services, and offered educational workshops, demos, and information panels and discussions, including a couple with VITAC’s Heather York.
VITAC once again will be at NAB Show 2023 in Las Vegas and IBC Show 2023 in Amsterdam. Watch this space for updates on additional shows and advocacy meetings we’ll be attending next year.
As a leader in captioning and accessibility for more than three decades, we’ve gained a lot of knowledge and experience, and we’re always more than happy to share that with customers and consumers.
VITAC hosted a handful of informative webinars over the past few months, discussing the importance and myriad benefits of audio description, transcription and localization, and event center and stadium captions. All our webinars are available on-demand on our Resources page, where you also can find our ebooks, case studies, and a variety of other content.
A couple pieces of legislation are making the rounds in Congress that would have positive impacts on the accessibility landscape.
A new bill — the Communications, Video, and Technology Accessibility Act (CVTA) — was introduced to Congress in November. The act aims to update regulations for television programming and online streaming video platforms and improve access to communications technology for Americans with disabilities to ensure they have equal opportunities in an increasingly online world. It would enhance communications, video, and technology accessibility by, among other things, requiring closed captioning for online video programming (reflecting current televised video programming requirements), requiring audio description for both online and televised video programming, and requiring video conferencing services to have built-in accessibility features, such as automatic captioning and the ability to connect sign language interpreters.
Another before Congress — the Websites and Software Applications Accessibility Act — seeks to establish a clear, enforceable accessibility standard and provide advice and guidance on accessible websites and applications. The bill reinforces that it is unlawful for entities currently covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to maintain inaccessible websites and applications that exclude people with disabilities.
We’ll be keeping an eye on these and other developments (legislative and otherwise) as 2023 progresses.
Let’s Get Together
As part of the Verbit family of companies, VITAC is proud to continue to deliver high-quality captions, subtitles, audio description, transcription, and dubbing services to the media and entertainment industry. We’re always looking for new ways to help our customers become more inclusive and reach their fullest audience and look forward to working with everyone in 2023!