VITAC, Verbit Leaders Named to FCC Disability Advisory Committee 

Apr 6 2023 Laura Swanson
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Heather York, VITAC’s Vice President, Marketing and Government Affairs, has been chosen to serve a two-year term on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Disability Advisory Committee (DAC). 

As a member of the DAC, York brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table. She has more than two decades of expertise with video programming requirements and prerecorded and live captioning as well as in-depth knowledge on the technical aspects related to caption preparation and the delivery of accessible media. She has been a member of or participated in four of the past five Disability Advisory Committees. 

Additionally, Scott Ready, the Global Head of Accessibility and Inclusion at VITAC’s parent company, Verbit, has been named a committee alternate. Ready has long been an advocate of accessibility and has spoken at events and conferences advocating for greater inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of society. 

Disability Advisory Committee members are accepted for a two-year term of service. The committee meets at the FCC offices in Washington, D.C., for a minimum of three one-day meetings, and members are expected to take part in at least one working group or subcommittee. 

Audio Description Working Group 

For the DAC’s fifth term, York is serving on the Audio Description Working Group. This working group is asked to name issues and best practices associated with the transmittal to and receipt of audio description by video programming providers and distributors. The goal is to ensure that described files associated with full-length programming remain available regardless of the distribution method. So whether a show is watched as it airs on traditional television or watched on a streaming platform months or years after the air date, the consumer will be able to access audio description. The working group is also tasked with suggesting solutions to increase the amount of audio described programming online.  

On the Disability Advisory Committee 

Created in 2014, the Disability Advisory Committee is comprised of members from various backgrounds, including persons with disabilities, representatives from disability-related organizations, and industry experts. The goal of the committee is to give advice and recommendations to the FCC on a variety of disability issues within the commission’s jurisdiction. Some of the issues addressed in the past have included closed captioning, audio description, telecommunications relay services, access to emergency information on television, telephone emergency notifications, device accessibility, technology transitions, and the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program. 

The committee provides a forum for stakeholders to discuss and exchange ideas surrounding accessibility issues affecting persons with disabilities and serves as a resource for the Commission as it educates covered entities on these matters. Also, the DAC helps the Commission understand and consider current and emerging communications needs of persons with disabilities as differing communications technologies continue to emerge. 

Membership for the upcoming DAC term consists of a diverse mix of organizations representing individuals with disabilities, the communications and video programming industries, the public safety industry, trade associations, academia, researchers, and other stakeholders.