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For immediate release
October 29, 2001

Second Set of Captions Available on Arthur

PBS Introduces Second Set of Captions on Emmy-Award Winning Arthur Edited for Young Viewers Who are Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing
Feedback on Two Caption Levels Sought from Teachers and Parents
BOSTON, MA — To further expand the reach of the hit children's television series Arthur, PBS stations nationwide are now broadcasting two streams of closed captions for viewers who are deaf and hard of hearing: original, near-verbatim captions and edited captions. Intended for early elementary-school-aged children who are not yet fluent readers and cannot make use of the program audio, edited captions present simplified language and shorter sentences at a slower rate.

Arthur's WGBH executive producer Carol Greenwald comments, "As the first daily series to be made fully accessible, Arthur has always been a leader in providing new access services to viewers. We're delighted to once again break new ground [with edited captions] so that kids on a variety of reading levels can enjoy and learn from the show."

Both types of captions are provided by The Caption Center, a non-profit service of the Media Access Group at WGBH in Boston. Original captions are funded by WGBH and national program underwriters Libby's, Juicy Juice, Post Alpha-Bits Cereal and LEGO, while edited captions are funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Arthur also is fully described, making it accessible to young viewers who are blind or visually impaired.

Guidelines for edited captions were developed by staff-members of The Caption Center and the CPB/WGBH National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) -- both part of the Media Access Group at WGBH -- with input from academics, educators and students. According to director of research for NCAM Mardi Loeterman, who led the guideline-development efforts, "Since children can't pause or look back while reading captions, as they can with a book, the most important difference in edited captions is that the pace is much slower. This takes into consideration that children need enough time to both read the captions and watch the video to understand what's going on. We also make sure there aren't too many unfamiliar words, choosing words for children who read at about the second-grade level." Jane Kelly, Supervisor of Academic Programs at the Beverly (MA) School for the Deaf, adds, "We believe that edited captions on children's television programs [will provide motivating reading materials appropriate for] the reading abilities of the students with whom we work. An added benefit is the opportunity for deaf students to enjoy the popular culture' of a show such as Arthur." A summary of the goals for edited captions is available online, along with special parent and teacher questionnaires by which they can provide feedback about the new edited caption service.

Like near-verbatim closed captions, edited captions are encoded as hidden data within the television signal, and are available through most caption-ready televisions and set-top decoders. Viewers can choose the desired level of captioning or switch between them easily with their remote controls and on-screen menus -- selecting "CC1" for original captions and "CC2" for edited captions. Viewers may check their TV manual for additional information on how to access edited captions.

Based on the popular Arthur books by author/illustrator Marc Brown, Arthur is a daily, animated children's series that follows the adventures and misadventures of eight-year-old aardvark Arthur Read, his five-year-old sister D.W., his friends and family. Now in its sixth hit season on PBS, the WGBH and CINAR-produced series remains one of the most watched children's television programs among kids two to five and two to eleven years old, with more than 12 million weekly viewers. Arthur has received four Daytime Emmy Awards — including three in the Outstanding Children's Animated Program category — a coveted George Foster Peabody Award and numerous other honors. Since its 1996 premiere, Arthur has featured closed captioning for viewers who are deaf and hard of hearing; in 1997, it made TV history as the first daily program to be entirely described for viewers who are blind and visually impaired. For additional program information and resources, visit its companion Web site at http://www.pbskids.org/arthur.

The Media Access Group at WGBH, with offices in Boston, New York and Los Angeles, is a non-profit service of the WGBH Educational Foundation, home of Boston's PBS station. The service group includes The Caption Center ® the world's first captioning agency, founded in 1972, as well as Descriptive Video Service®, which has made television, film and video more accessible to blind and visually impaired audiences since 1990. The third branch of the Media Access Group, the CPB/WGBH National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) , is a research and development entity that works to make existing and emerging technologies more accessible to these under-served audiences. Members of the Group's collective staff represent the leading resources and experts in their fields. For more information, visit access.wgbh.org.

Press contact:
Mary Watkins
Media Access Group at WGBH
(617) 300-3700
(617) 300-2489 TTY
mary_watkins@wgbh.org


















Caption Services Description Services NCAM