Disability Access In Community Media

I’ve been thinking a lot about disability access in community media over the last week.  I’d been asked to talk about captioning for PEG channels, but I’ve been finding it useful to talk about the broader approach to meeting the needs of the communities we serve.

That’s the heart of the reason for PEG:  Service to community.

So I think it’s useful to put captioning within that context – it’s an adaptive technology that’s meant to help individuals and communities more fully participate in our society.  

And yes, you have an obligation because of federal law to determine if it suits the delivery of your channels. But just as importantly, you have an obligation to your community to serve them regardless of their status.

Much as one wouldn’t design a community media studio to be inaccessible to members of the community who are disabled, we need to be designing our services to reach as many people as feasible. 

So adaptive technologies for teaching and instruction (such as simple items like adjustable height editing tables) are a necessary part of our mission. And I believe that means considering advances in computer generated translation services that are driving captioning costs down day-by-day.  

Or as another example, if a disabled user requested translation services that were reasonably priced in advance, would you deny them that request?  My sense from reading the Americans with Disabilities Act is that a non-profit, educational institution or government agency would have to provide a reasonable accommodation or risk legal action.  

What’s the first step in adapting your services to meet people’s needs?  Don’t be afraid to start a conversation with local experts and members of the community about information needs.    

We are community media, after all.  

Report for America

Report for America has a deadline this week to apply for assistance to place a reporter in a local newsroom.  They’re particularly interested in expanding coverage in communities that are not being served well by local news.  If you’re interested, click here, to find out more about the program.  The deadline is September 30. 

Community Media Day

We’re counting down the days to Community Media Day on October 20 – I’ve been seeing some promotions from members for the annual event but if you are looking for ideas, click here. 

And a shout out to the State of Massachusetts, where Governor Charles Baker has made a proclamation for the day!  You can find the proclamation here. 


FCC & Electronic Broadband Benefit Program

The FCC is continuing its to push to promote the Electronic Broadband Benefit program – EBB provides assistance so families with limited income can afford broadband.  We are asking stations to download PSA’s they’ve produced to promote the program on your channels!

Here's the download link with both MOV and MP4 formats. 

Please let ACM know if you are airing the PSA’s by sending an email to