U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Coordination and Review Section DJ #204-012-00042 P.O.

Box 66118 Washington, D.C. 20035-6118 FEB 26 1994 Mr. Richard B. Engelman Chief Technical Standards Branch Office of Engineering and Technology Federal Communications Commission Washington, D.C. 20554 Dear Mr. Engelman: This letter is in response to your request for information about Federal laws pertaining to closed captioning of television programs and films. We apologize for the delay in responding. The ADA authorizes the Department of Justice to provide technical assistance to individuals and entities having rights and obligations under the Act. This letter provides informal guidance to assist your agency in understanding the ADA's requirements. However, it does not constitute a legal opinion or legal advice and it is not binding on the Department. You state that you are aware of the FCC requirements that television public service announcements that are funded by the Federal government be closed captioned (47 U.S.C. 611) and that television stations transmit information during emergencies both aurally and visually (47 C.F.R. 73.1250(h)). You also state you are unaware of any other requirements. In addition to those requirements you mentioned, at least three Federal requirements deal with the provision of closed captioning: title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) , title III of the ADA, and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.

Title II of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in all programs, activities, and services provided or made available by State and local governments, instrumentalities,


-2or agencies, regardless of the receipt of Federal funds. Title III of the ADA covers public accommodations such as shopping centers, doctors' offices, museums, zoos, private schools, and other private establishments. Copies of the title II and III regulations and manuals explaining the regulations are enclosed. Regulations implementing titles II and III require the provision of auxiliary aids and services by public and private entities where necessary to ensure effective communication with an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing (section 35.160, p. 35721, of the title II rule; and section 36.303, p. 35597, of the title III rule, respectively). For individuals with hearing impairments, auxiliary aids and services include, but are not limited to, qualified interpreters, closed captioning, and transcription services such as computer aided real-time transcription (section 35.104, p. 35717, of the title II regulation; and section 36.303(b)(1), p. 35597, of the title III regulation). The title II regulation covers television and videotape programming produced by public entities. Access to audio portions of such programming may be provided through the use of closed captioning. Page 35712 of the title II regulation explains this concept. The title III regulation, section 36.307, p. 35598, does not require that video-tape rental establishments stock closedcaptioned video tapes, although the most recent titles in the establishments are, in fact, closed-captioned. Further discussion of this point can be found on p. 35571 of the title III regulation. Movie theaters are not required by title III to

present open-captioned films. However, other public accommodations that impart verbal information through soundtracks an films, video tapes, or slide shows are required to make such information accessible to persons with hearing impairments. Captioning is one means to make the information accessible to individuals with disabilities. Page 35567 of the title III regulation explains this concept. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of handicap in federally conducted and assisted programs. Like the title II regulation, regulations implementing section 504 require that Federal agencies and recipients provide auxiliary aids and services whenever necessary to ensure effective communications with members of the public. Services include the provision of closed captioning. Thus, audio-visual materials produced by the Federal government should be captioned. 01-02940

-3I hope this information is helpful to you. Sincerely, Stewart B. Oneglia Chief Coordination and Review Section Civil Rights Division Enclosures (3)