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This is the first installment in a six part series on Sections 204 and 205 of the Twenty-First Century Video and Communications Act of 2010 (CVAA).

On October 31, 2013, the FCC released rulemaking on Sections 204 and 205 of the CVAA. The purpose of this report and order (FCC 13-138) was to adopt rules to ensure the user interfaces of digital apparatuses for playback of video programming, including navigation and video programming guides, are accessible to people who are blind and visually impaired — unless non-achievable. The term digital apparatus includes “the physical device and the video player(s) capable of displaying video programming transmitted in digital format simultaneously with sound that manufacturers install into the devices they manufacturer before sale, whether in the form of hardware, software, or a combination of both … The term software includes third-party applications that are pre-installed on a device by the manufacturer or that the manufacturer directs consumers to install after sale.” (FCC 13-138 Appendix B) In addition, it provides rules to make sure features are available to activate closed captions and accessibility features used by people who are deaf or hard of hearing. The accessibility of these apparatuses by people with other disabilities is not covered by these sections. These rules, including complaint procedures, are codified in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 47 CFR 79.107-110.

The effective date of the rulemaking is three years after date of publication in the Federal Register. There are additional extensions to the date for certain small and mid-size organizations and extensions for certain classes of products, such as display-only monitors and projectors.

Several terms are used to differentiate the applicability of Section 204 and Section 205. Specifically, Section 205 applies to Multi-channel Video Program Distributors (MVPD) and manufacturers who make MVPD devices. MVPDs include organizations such as cable and satellite providers. Navigation devices covered under Section 205 are defined as “devices and other equipment used by consumers to access multichannel video programming and other services offered over multichannel video programming services.” (FCC 13-138 ¶ 2)

The next blog in this series will feature answers to the most commonly asked questions about the requirements, complaint process and support and documentation.