Chicago Justice Newest Dick Wolf Show To Be Accessible To Blind Audiences

Posted by Anna on March 1, 2017 at 4:00 pm. Video Description
Mark, Anna, and Peter stand amidst protesters outside a courthouse

Mark, Anna, and Peter stand amidst protesters outside a courthouse

Chicago Justice is the latest addition to Dick Wolf’s hit franchise of shows set in the Windy City.  To the delight of blind and low-vision audience who have followed the interweaving worlds of  Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., and Chicago Med with the help of video description, Chicago Justice will also be broadcast with the accessibility feature.

Fast-paced dramas with huge ensemble casts contain lots of visual information that is not conveyed through the show’s dialogue or sound effects.  In addition to providing information about scene and time changes, video description gives blind viewers access to key plot points like the source of an explosion, which details of a crime scene are being documented, and countless character emotions conveyed through facial expressions and body language.

While its regular timeslot will be Sundays at 9/8c, Chicago Justice will debut tonight after Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. set up a historic three-hour crossover event.  Chicago Med won’t be airing its own episode, but the hospital and doctors will be featured in the storyline.

Our description team has loved the unique opportunity to make an entire series of shows that has built on itself accessible to the blind community. We frequently hear from members of our Consumer Advisory Board and Quality Assurance Panel about how much they enjoy the Chicago programs.

CaptionMax describes the best in broadcast and OTT entertainment, as well as corporate, government, and educational programming. To find out how you can add video description to your content, contact

Employee Spotlight: Annie Taylor

Posted by Anna on February 22, 2017 at 10:00 am. Captioners, Captioning, Employee Spotlight
Production Scheduler Annie Taylor

Production Scheduler Annie Taylor

At CaptionMax, we believe that our greatest strength is our employees. They’re clever, creative, and we can’t wait for you to get to know them a little better. Annie Taylor began at CaptionMax in May 2011 as a Prerecorded Caption Editor before going on to become Captioning Supervisor and now Production Scheduler:

What’s your favorite part of working at CaptionMax?

My favorite part of working at CaptionMax is the people. Everyone who works here is kind, funny, and talented, and it shows in their work and in their everyday interactions. It’s nice to come into a work environment like that every day.

What job did you want when you were 10 years old?

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a writer, which is not really a job and more of a way of being. Or a job that let me play video games all day (which I did end up getting the summer after college, and it was awful, but that’s another story). I was not a long-term-minded child.

What’s one thing you couldn’t live without?

Coffee is the obvious answer here, but in reality, I couldn’t live without the endless array of stories available to explore, in TV, books, movies, and video games.

Do you have any hidden talents?

They haven’t been revealed to me yet, but telekinesis seems like it’d be cool to have. Oh, you said talents, not superpowers. My answer stands.

What is your biggest hobby outside of work?

My biggest hobby outside of work is definitely video games. Right now I play a lot of Overwatch, but I’m very excited for the new Zelda in March (SO EXCITED).

If you could have dinner with any person, living or dead, who would it be?

It would be fantastic to have met and shared a meal with Sir Terry Pratchett. What a gem of a human being and author.

What is your favorite TV show/movie?

This is an unfair question and you know it. So I’ll give you two shows: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Futurama. Obviously.

Our Method To March Madness? A Team Effort

Posted by Anna on February 9, 2017 at 3:00 pm. Captioners, Captioning

Every February, our realtime captioning department gears up for its busiest time of year: March Madness. Not only does the NCAA Division I tournament (as well as the conference tournaments leading up to it) add hundreds of extra hours to our regular schedule, the structure can create additional challenges. But we have the team and technology in place to stay on the ball and ensure every word gets captioned.

The conference tournaments are always same-site events, meaning two teams play and the next two teams will play on the same court when that game is finished.  So if the first game goes into overtime, the second game will have a late start. Even with anywhere between four to six sites going at once, our realtime coordinators expertly oversee the smooth transition between all of these games.

There’s no greater MVP during this hectic season than our realtime captioners.  In addition to prepping their dictionaries to make sure every player, coach, and arena name is spelled correctly, they maintain flexible schedules so coordinators can stay nimble with unpredictable start and end times.  In the event we need to use more than one captioner per game, our Rocket Realtime Technology allows us to seamlessly make the switch mid-program.

Our realtime team is thriving. In 2016, we experienced significant growth in live captioning services and tripled our staff of in-house realtime captioners, expanding our capacity for last-minute requests. While the majority of clients requesting realtime captioning are in broadcast, we have seen an uptick in corporate and government organizations who need conferences and meetings that are being streamed online captioned live. To receive a quote for your next live program or event, contact

Federal Agencies Must Prepare For New Requirements Under Section 508 ICT Refresh

Posted by Anna on January 19, 2017 at 2:00 pm. Captioning, Video Description

US Access Board Logo

Last week, the US Access Board delivered a long awaited final rule under the authority of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Widely known as the “Section 508 Refresh,” the law ensures that federal agencies provide full accessibility in all aspects of their information and communication technology (ICT).  After being published in the Federal Register yesterday, agencies and vendors are expected to comply within a one-year period (January 18, 2018).


To make sure that the refresh keeps pace with a continuously evolving technological landscape, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, an internationally accepted standard, were incorporated. Its success criteria  were adopted by the New York City and European Union governments early last year. The rule states that agencies must conform to Level A (which provide the most basic web accessibility features) and Level AA (which address the biggest and most common barriers for disabled users) requirements. These are the requirements that apply to online video content:

Level A

To conform to Level A guidelines, federal agencies must provide the following:

Offline Captions Pre-recorded video content with audio must have closed captions.

Video Description Pre-recorded video content with audio must have video description OR text video description (media alternative) that is accessible using screen reader technology.

Level AA

To conform to Level AA guidelines, federal agencies must provide what is listed in Level A, as well as:

Live Captions Live streaming videos must have closed captions.

Video Description Pre-recorded video content with audio must have video description.

The Impact Beyond Section 508

While Section 508 only applies to federal agencies, the Title III team at Seyfarth Shaw believes the refresh “makes it even more likely that the DOJ will adopt the same standard for the websites of public accommodations and state and local governments under Titles II and III of the ADA,” meaning organizations that want to be proactive should start looking to WCAG 2.0 requirements sooner rather than later.

How CaptionMax Can Help

We help government agencies and businesses of all sizes meet WCAG 2.0 standards for their video content.  In addition to producing the highest quality closed captioning and video description, our team works closely with clients to provide custom style guides and streamlined workflows that meet their needs.

How The Department of Transportation Agreement With The NAD Will Affect Content Providers

Posted by Anna on December 15, 2016 at 6:06 pm. Captioning, Video Description
The interior of an airplane cabin with seatback entertainment units illuminated

The interior of an airplane cabin with seatback entertainment units illuminated

This week the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) reached an agreement with the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) that could have deep implications for video content providers. The notice of proposed rulemaking won’t be issued until July 2017, but the ACCESS Advisory committee, which includes disability advocacy organizations, airlines, aircraft manufacturers, and content providers, has been working on the recommendations it submitted to the DOT since April of 2016.

If the recommendations are followed, all new in-flight entertainment systems for new aircrafts or installed into existing models would be required to support closed captions and video description.  For aircrafts that do not have accessible seatback entertainment systems, they must provide a personal entertainment device (PED) with accessible and comparable content. Wirelessly streaming that content to a passenger’s PED is an acceptable alternative.

Additionally, airlines will request that content providers deliver 100% of covered in-flight entertainment with closed captions and video description. This requirement will extend to edited versions.

CaptionMax can help content providers prepare their videos for delivery under these new requirements, whether they’re starting from scratch or have existing files. For current and new clients, we are able to convert file types or reformat closed captioning and video description files for any edited versions as needed.

DOJ Finalizes Ruling Requiring Movie Theaters To Provide Closed Captioning And Video Description

Posted by Anna on December 6, 2016 at 4:31 pm. ADA, Captioning, DOJ, Video Description
Interior of a movie theater

Interior of a movie theater

Last week, the Department of Justice issued its final ruling on regulations for movie theaters showing digital films to provide closed captioning and video description. The rule amends Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits public accommodations from discriminating against individuals with disabilities, and will go into effect January 17, 2017.

The Department found that despite movie studios regularly providing closed captions and video description as a part of their Digital Cinema Package (DCP), they were not consistently made available at all theaters or showings to patrons who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, or low-vision.

In addition to requiring hardware acquisition, theaters will need to provide a minimum number of captioning and description devices for patrons. The minimum number of devices increases with the number of auditoriums per venue.

Compliance for theaters showing digital movies prior to the ruling must be met by June 2, 2018. At this time, no specific requirements are imposed for theaters that exclusively screen analog movies, however any theaters that convert from an analog to a digital projection system subsequent to the ruling must comply with these requirements by December 2, 2018 or within 6 months of the completed installation of the new system, whichever is later.

For producers looking to deliver a fully accessible DCP for their feature films, CaptionMax can provide a streamlined workflow for closed captioning and video description, including mixes for 5.1 surround sound. Adding these services can expand the potential reach of your content to approximately 50 million Americans who are deaf or blind, leading to larger crowds at the box office.

2017 CVAA Captioning Requirements Approaching

Posted by Anna on December 2, 2016 at 11:08 am. CVAA, Captioning
President Obama signs the CVAA into law

President Obama signs the CVAA into law

As 2017 draws near, so do the final captioning requirements for the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, or CVAA. Signed into law in 2010, CVAA video programming requirements were designed to keep content accessible to disabled users as new technologies and modes of distribution emerged.

Since January 1, 2016 it has been required that all IP-delivered “straight lift” clips, meaning a single excerpt of television that was broadcast with captions, must also be captioned, regardless of content length or type.  ”Montages,” files containing multiple straight lift clips, will also required to be captioned beginning January 1, 2017.

Starting July 1, 2017, clips from live programming must be captioned. Unlike prerecorded material, live programming is permitted up to a 12-hour delay after airtime to post captioned clips with up to an 8-hour delay for near-live programming.

For programming that has already aired with captions, video programming distributors are required to post captioned clips of their content to their own websites or apps. However, at this time, these rules do not apply to third party websites or apps.

CaptionMax has helped many clients meet CVAA captioning requirements for IP-delivered clips. To learn more about how we can help your organization become compliant, contact your CaptionMax representative or

Employee Spotlight: Mark Johnson

Posted by Anna on November 8, 2016 at 11:32 am. Captioning
Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson, Realtime Engineering Specialist

At CaptionMax, we believe that our greatest strength is our employees. They’re clever, creative, and we can’t wait for you to get to know them a little better. Mark Johnson started at CaptionMax in May 2012 as an offline Caption Editor before joining our team of Realtime Coordinators in 2014 and recently becoming our Realtime Engineering Specialist:

What’s your favorite part of working at CaptionMax?

It’s what everyone says, but the people. I love the folks that I work with. But also just the whole environment here, how the place is laid back, but everyone snaps into form when the work rolls in and tasks need getting done. Realtime can be feast or famine when it comes to stuff to do. I really thrive in that kind of environment.

What job did you want when you were 10 years old?

I wanted to be a baseball player. I even did a poster on that as a school project, and it hung in my room for years. My mom also tells me that I wanted to be a single guy with a pickup truck. I really failed my younger self on all accounts.

What’s one thing you couldn’t live without?

The gym. It’s how I blow off steam. When you’re moving as much weight as you can possibly lift, there’s no room in your mind for anything else. You’re completely in the moment. A study came out saying that working out a lot leads to higher mortality, but I figure it has to be a better personal vice than drinking or smoking, right?

Do you have any hidden talents?

I’ve got pretty good willpower when it comes to, like, not eating doughnuts at work? But no, I’ve got nothing you can show off at a talent show. I did standup comedy once and got some laughs. But the amount of time I spent preparing and practicing that made it just not worth the investment to pursue.

What is your biggest hobby outside of work?

Working out. There’s just so many different ways to do it. Right now, I’m working on powerlifting. When the spring comes around, I’ll work on my conditioning for obstacle course races and take up Scottish heavy games throwing again.

If you could have dinner with any person, living or dead, who would it be?

Abraham Lincoln. He’s so integral to our country’s history, and yet, has there ever been a more enigmatic figure? There are so many legends, stories attributed to him. Every situation you seem to be able to morph into something Lincoln would support. It would be fascinating to really learn about what he truly thought and was like.

What is your favorite TV show/movie?

I watch a lot of sports. I’m mostly into football and basketball, but I have a soft spot for baseball, and volleyball is an underrated sport. I love that I get to work on the captioning for so many different sporting events here.

Want To Know What It’s Like To Caption The World Series?

Posted by Anna on October 28, 2016 at 10:33 am. Captioners, Captioning
Lori smiles and holds a baseball next to the CaptionMax sign

Lori smiles and holds a baseball next to the CaptionMax sign

This year, CaptionMax has the privilege of live captioning the World Series.  We wanted to give a glimpse into what that experience is like, so we asked Lori, superstar live writer responsible for game 2, what it’s like to caption one of the biggest nights in baseball.

Obviously you’re a Twins fan, but do you have a favorite between Chicago and Cleveland?

I really wasn’t sure which team to root for because it’s been so long since either team has been to the World Series, much less won the World Series. Now that the series is tied 1-1, I can pretty confidently say I’m cheering for Cleveland.  It’s really cool that the Cubs are in it, but I’m an American League girl through and through.

How does captioning baseball compare to other sports?

I grew up watching baseball from age 6 or 7. So I’ve always kind of felt that compared to captioning other sports, baseball is my native language.  I know the vocab. Also I just love the way baseball sounds, which is a plus considering how closely we have to listen when captioning.

The pace of baseball is a little bit slower, so I get a chance to catch my breath or look something up. On the flip side, other sports have more action or are higher scoring, which tends to make doing a game a little more exciting. Hockey and basketball games fly by.

Does captioning the World Series feel much different from captioning other events?

I don’t even know what the audience size is for this series, but it’s definitely high-profile, so that means ultra prep: former players, details about past World Series games involving these teams, a larger pregame/postgame panel.

In a regular game, they don’t often televise the anthem or the 7th inning stretch, but in this case we need to be ready for that, so who is singing for the current game and even the previous game or next game in case they get mentioned.

Is there any other event that would be as or more exciting for you to caption?

This was definitely a blast. Something as or more exciting? The inauguration probably.

Microsoft Highlights The Future Of Accessibility Online

Posted by Anna on October 26, 2016 at 5:17 pm. ADA, Consumer Advisory Board, Video Description, WCAG

Kelly sits at a desk next to his laptop.

Earlier today, Microsoft held their Windows 10 Event, a two-hour presentation of new products and features from the technology giant. Microsoft began with a video that underscores the importance of accessibility in the design process, stating: “We don’t build Windows 10 for all of us. We build Windows 10 for each of us.” While the video features how Windows 10 will be improved for people across a range of disabilities, it does a fantastic job of showcasing the enhancements for blind and low-vision screen reader users.

Senior Program Manager, Kelly, who is blind himself, is shown using Windows Narrator on his laptop with the voice sped up to increase efficiency. He says, “So right now we’re at about 80% of capacity of how Narrator could speak. And this is about how I would use my computer. That probably sounds like gibberish, but once you get used to this, it’s pretty quick.”

Most people are unfamiliar with screen reader technology, so it’s wonderful that Microsoft used a high-profile event to give greater context for its application. In past Consumer Advisory Board meetings, CaptionMax has asked its members to listen to different speeds of video description to help us determine how fast our narrators should speak when they record to optimize for quality and efficiency.

Text video description is another option that serves as a full alternative to the video, making it accessible to blind or low-vision individuals with screen reader technology and allowing them to choose their own speed. For several years, CaptionMax has provided text video description, also known as a “media alternative,” as a service for our clients who want to meet WCAG 2.0 Level A standards for their online video content.

We make media accessibility easy for our clients. In addition to helping them understand which services they need to become compliant and reach a wider audience, we offer the increased efficiency, security, and quality of having it all done under one roof. To learn more about WCAG 2.0 compliance, contact



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