NPR Plans Captioned Radio Coverage of Presidential Election


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Washington, DC - Oct 21, 2008 - On election night, deaf and hard-of-hearing people will be able to experience live radio coverage when NPR, Harris and Towson University simulcast the first-ever live, captioned radio broadcast. NPR News' election night coverage will be simulcast in the new captioned radio format, providing accessible news and journalism to deaf and hard-of-hearing communities. Captioning for the broadcast is being provided by WGBH's Media Access Group.

The broadcast will be coordinated by NPR, Harris and Towson University as part of an initiative to make radio more accessible to the millions of consumers with sensory disabilities around the world. Nearly seven million people in the United States are either deaf or hard-of-hearing, and more than 28 million Americans report having trouble with their hearing, according to Gallaudet University.

The election broadcast will be shown at private demonstrations at NPR's international headquarters in Washington, DC, and three NPR Member stations around the United States: WTMD Baltimore, WGBH Boston and KCFR Denver. WGBH Boston will act as a technical resource for monitoring and caption production. WAMU in DC will serve as the transmitting station. The election broadcast also will be carried simultaneously on the Internet at NPR.org. A link to the broadcast also will be available at harris.com.

The broadcast will leverage HD Radio technology to enable deaf people to experience NPR's election coverage through viewing live radio content on specially equipped receivers. WGBH's stenocaptioners will monitor NPR's live coverage and feed instantaneous speech-to-text transcriptions to the participating NPR stations and an NPR website that will stream the caption text. WGBH will also provide live captioning for numerous local and national TV broadcasters on election night.

The election broadcast is the latest event coordinated by the International Center for Accessible Radio Technology (ICART), which is headquartered at Towson University in Towson, MD. Founding members also include NPR and Harris. Towson houses the primary administrative and academic research office for the initiative, NPR Labs in Washington, DC, provides the technology R&D and software development, and Harris supplies the transmission and research support at its radio broadcast technology center in Cincinnati.

ICART was launched in January of this year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, when the organization conducted a live, local over-the-air broadcast of captioned radio for an audience at the show.



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