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News Archive

For immediate release
January 2001

Media Access Group At WGBH To Provide Closed Captioning And Live Description For PBS's Inaugural Coverage

BOSTON, MA The Media Access Group at WGBH, a non-profit service of the WGBH Educational Foundation in Boston, Massachusetts, will provide both closed captioning and live description of George W. Bush's presidential inauguration for the PBS presentation of Inauguration 2001, a NewsHourspecial hosted by Jim Lehrer. The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) coverage of the inauguration airs live on Saturday, January 20 from 11am to 1:30pm EST (check local listings). This broadcast will make the first inauguration of the millennium fully accessible to some 34 million deaf, hard-of-hearing, blind and visually impaired Americans. In 1993, PBS's coverage of the Clinton inauguration was the first live television program that was made fully accessible to deaf, hard-of-hearing, blind and visually impaired viewers.

PBS's two-and-a-half-hour inaugural broadcast will be both closed captioned for deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers and described for blind and visually impaired viewers. Captioning will be provided by The Caption Center and description will be provided by Descriptive Video Service®R - both services of the Media Access Group at WGBH in Boston. The Media Access Group at WGBH will also provide closed captioning for the CBS Newsinaugural coverage.

Hosted by Jim Lehrer of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer,the PBS presentation will feature political analysts Mark Shields and Paul Gigot, as well as a panel of political historians, including Doris Kearns Goodwin, Haynes Johnson, Michael Beschloss, Richard Norton Smith and Roger Wilkins. PBS's coverage will follow the presidential motorcade from the White House to the Capitol and will include the swearing-in ceremony, inaugural address, 21-gun salute and departure of President Clinton by helicopter from the Capitol.

"WGBH is proud to take part in making this historic event fully accessible to blind and deaf PBS viewers once again," says WGBH President Henry Becton. "And we're extremely grateful to PBS and the team at MacNeil/Lehrer Productions for the opportunity to bring not only the verbal content of the inaugural coverage to deaf and hard-of-hearing Americans, but also the visual highlights of the occasion to those who are blind or visually impaired." Paul Edwards, president of the American Council of the Blind, adds, "At a time when more citizens have been exposed to the inner workings of the U.S. election process, it is only fitting that the culmination of this process - the inauguration of our next president - will be made accessible to everyone, disabled and non-disabled alike. I applaud WGBH and the NewsHour for including live description and captioning of the day's events on public television."

Closed captions display spoken dialogue as text on the television screen. The live captions will be typed by specially trained stenocaptioners - working from WGBH's Boston-based headquarters - and broadcast simultaneously with the live program. The descriptive narration - which will be provided on-site in Washington DC by an expert team of describers - is audible during pauses in program dialogue and will identify speakers, describe settings and convey other visual information about the event. Captions can be accessed on television sets equipped with a closed caption decoder, while viewers can hear descriptions by switching to the Second Audio Program (SAP) channel on their stereo TVs or VCRs.

The Media Access Group at WGBH incorporates The Caption Center, the world's first captioning agency, founded in 1972; Descriptive Video Service (DVS®), which has made television, film and video more accessible to blind and visually impaired audiences since 1990; and the CPB/WGBH National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM), a research and development entity that builds on the success of WGBH's access service departments to make existing and emerging technologies more accessible to these under-served audiences. Members of the Media Access Group's collective staff represent the leading resources and experts in their fields.

Funding for closed captioning and descriptive narration of Inauguration 2001 is provided by the U.S. Department of Education. Additional funding for closed captioning is provided by MacNeil/Lehrer Productions.

Press contact:
Mary Watkins
(617) 300-3700

Caption Services Description Services NCAM