Video-on-Demand Children’s TV Programming Now Accessible for Thousands of Students with Visual or Hearing Disabilities

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Video-on-Demand Children’s TV Programming Now Accessible for Thousands of Students with Visual or Hearing Disabilities

March 16, 2015

The U.S. Department of Education today announced the availability of free, video-on-demand children’s television programming for thousands of students who are blind, visually impaired, deaf or hard of hearing.

Dozens of children’s and family TV episodes may now be viewed online featuring closed captioning and descriptions through the Education Department’s Accessible Television Portal project. Among the shows: “Ocean Mysteries,” “Magic School Bus,” “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” “Expedition Wild” and “Peg + Cat.”

The portal is part of the Department-funded Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP). It includes video-on-demand content provided at no cost by the major television networks, as well as producers and distributors like PBS Kids, Sesame Workshop, Cartoon Network, Sprout (NBC), the Fred Rogers Company, Scholastic Media, Litton Entertainment, Out of the Blue and Fremantle Television.

“In the digital age, the capability exists to deliver a higher level of personalized programming for students who were underserved in the past,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “This type of large-scale collaboration between the Education Department and so many major television networks, producers and program distributors will allow greater access to television programming for all students.”

To view the content, teachers and school personnel, parents, and other professionals working with qualified students can visit www.dcmp.org and apply for access to the portal.

Once approved, accessible content can be used with, and by, students in the classroom and at home via the Web, mobile phones and tablets, mobile apps, and set-top boxes. The portal itself is fully accessible to those with sensory impairments. Children with disabilities can locate any featured program without difficulty.

Initially, the site will include 73 episodes of 19 different children’s television programs. Additional content from other producers will be added over the next two years.

Melody Musgrove, director of the Education Department’s Office of Special Education Programs, which manages the portal, said teachers and parents routinely use television to introduce, reinforce and expand upon school lessons.

“The Accessible Television Portal was created to open up these learning opportunities for the population of children with unique learning needs,” Musgrove said. “The general population takes for granted the entertainment and education provided by quality television. Children with disabilities deserve access to that same programming. With the technology we have available to us, there is no reason for them to be left out.”

“I’m very excited about the prospect of our diverse mix of programming on CBS and ABC being made available to children who, otherwise, wouldn’t have the opportunity to fully experience it,” said Meg LaVigne, president of Litton Television.

DCMP provides services to benefit thousands of students - early learning through grade 12 - who are blind, visually impaired, deaf, hard of hearing or deaf-blind. These services include a library of free-loan described and captioned educational media, a learning center of information related to educational media access, a gateway to Internet resources related to accessibility, and guidelines for adding descriptions and captions to media.

The Department-funded DCMP is administered by the National Association of the Deaf.  More information is available at www.dcmp.org.