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For immediate release
July 15, 2002

The Media Access Group at WGBH Publishes New MAG Guides - Latest in Series of Consumer Information Brochures

Now available in print and online versions - Guides covering the FCC's captioning and description mandates for television and how to access description on television
BOSTON, MA - The Media Access Group at WGBH has published the latest in a series of consumer guides to issues related to media access. Media Access Group (or MAG) Guides are publications which contain tools, strategies and helpful hints for consumers and that further WGBH's leadership in providing clear and concise information to consumers with hearing or vision loss, as well as parents, teachers and others with a stake in creating equal access to all forms of media.

MAG Guide Volume 3 - The FCC's rules for closed captioning and video description for TV, offers guidance to the somewhat complex mandates governing the provision and availability of closed captioning and video description on television.

Since 1996, the FCC has adopted mandates that enable American audiences with hearing or visual disabilities to enjoy access to television that was once unavailable to them. The full Report and Orders on closed captioning (FCC #97-279, adopted 8/7/97, updated 9/17/98) and video description (FCC #00-258, adopted 7/21/00) are available on the FCC's Web site at For general information and inquiries, contact

MAG Guide Volume 4 - How to access video description on your television is a simple guide to activating video description through the Second Audio Program (or SAP channel) of stereo-equipped televisions or VCRs. Stand-alone SAP receivers are also available, though most TVs and VCRs purchased within the past eight years are equipped with SAP capability.

Requests for print copies (can be easily copied/reproduced) should be directed to the Media Access Group's Boston office: Media Access Group at WGBH, 125 Western Avenue, Boston, MA 02134, via phone at 617 300-3400 voice, 617 300-2489 TTY, or via e-mail at The Guides can also be found online at

Video description - developed and provided by the Media Access Group- provides descriptive narration of key visual elements, making television programs, feature films, home videos and other visual media accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired. Key visual elements are those which viewers who are visually impaired would ordinarily miss, such as actions, costumes, gestures, facial expressions, scene changes and on-screen text. Inserted within the natural pauses in dialogue, audio descriptions of important visual details help to engage viewers with the story.

Closed captioning - also pioneered and provided by the Media Access Group - displays spoken dialogue as text on the television screen (like subtitles), enabling viewers who are deaf or hard-of-hearing to read the audio that they would ordinarily miss. Unlike subtitles, captions are specifically designed for viewers with hearing disabilities and are carefully placed to identify speakers, on- and off-screen sound effects, music and laughter. Closed captions also can benefit adults and children who are learning to read, as well as people learning English as a second language.

The Media Access Group has published two previous MAG Guides and will publish additional volumes in the future. Volume 1: Information for teachers about recording DVS® on VHS offers simple instructions to teachers and parents of children with visual impairments on how to record described television programs for viewing in the classroom or at home. Volume 2: Producing programs and videos for viewers with vision loss offers script and production tips to television networks and video production houses. These documents are posted on the Group's Web site

The Media Access Group at WGBH is a non-profit service with offices in Boston, New York and Los Angeles. The Group includes The Caption Center - the world's first captioning agency - which has made audiovisual media accessible to audiences who are deaf or hard-of-hearing since 1972 - and Descriptive Video Service®, which has made television, film and video more enjoyable to audiences who are blind or visually impaired since 1990. The third branch of the Media Access Group, the CPB/WGBH National Center for Accessible Media, is a research, development and advocacy entity that works to make existing and emerging technologies accessible to all audiences. Members of the Group's collective staff represent the leading resources and experts in their fields. For more information about access services, visit the Media Access Group Web site

Press Contacts:
Mary Watkins
Media Access Group at WGBH
(617) 300-3700
(617) 300-2489 TTY

Caption Services Description Services NCAM