Requirements for Closed Captions in Businesses
In December 2022, the City of Boston passed an Ordinance Related to Closed Captioning in places of public accommodation. This ordinance requires TVs that are visible in the public areas of your business to have the “closed captions” (CC) feature enabled.
Closed captioning is a service delivered by programming providers that puts text of the dialogue and other audible information on the screen. The signal that creates captions is included with the movie or TV show, and it needs to be decoded in order to be displayed. All televisions manufactured after 1993 are equipped with this decoder. With the onset of cable and satellite set-top boxes, the decoding is often done by those boxes. More recently, streaming service apps provide both the captioning signal and the decoding ability within their service.
The City passed this ordinance in order to ensure that all customers and patrons of businesses in Boston have equal access to the information that is being broadcast on TVs in public areas. Captions provide access to the audible TV content for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, older adults with hearing difficulties, people who speak a language other than English, and many others.
Guidance on Setting Up Closed Captioning
Depending on the program you are broadcasting in your business, you will enable closed captioning either (1) in the streaming app , e.g. Netflix, Hulu, YouTube; (2) through your cable settings, e.g. Xfinity, DirecTV, etc.; or (3) on in your television’s settings. You only have to do it one time. Once captions are enabled, they will remain enabled unless you go in to turn them off. Below are a few links that may be able to help you with the exact steps required for your use.
The exact menu depends on the manufacturer. Many have a closed captioning (“CC”) button on the remote for easy access. If it doesn’t, you may need to navigate to your device’s menu or settings. Try the “gear icon” and look for “Accessibility” settings, or check out the following support articles.
If this does not work, you may need to enable captions through the programming provider, aka Cable or Streaming.
Sorenson has compiled directions with screenshots for enabling captions from the following cable and streaming services:
- Amazon Prime
- Apple TV
- Samsung TV Plus