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WGBH/NCAM receives FCC Chairman's Award

For Advancement in Accessibility for Mobile Applications

The second annual FCC Chairman's Awards for Advancements in Accessibility (link resides outside of ceremony was held on December 19, 2012, at Federal Communications Commission headquarters in Washington, DC. The awards were established in 2010 as part of the National Broadband Plan to celebrate innovators who have helped make communications technology more accessible to people with disabilities.

Awards are presented for:

The awards focus on six categories: Consumer Empowerment Information; Mobile Applications; Civic Participation Solutions; Education: College or University; Video Programming; and Geo-Location Solutions.

Chairman Julius Genachowski said, "We were very pleased with the excellent quality of the nominations we received, and I want to commend and applaud the efforts of all of the nominees.

The outstanding work submitted by so many companies, associations and individuals is truly inspiring."

IBM advocacy partner, the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media at WGBH (NCAM) received the FCC Chairman's Award for Advancement in Accessibility for Mobile Applications for their development of the Media Access Mobile (MAM) solution. MAM is designed to serve visitors to entertainment venues and cultural institutions who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, blind or visually impaired, or who speak languages other than English.

Led by NCAM's Brad Botkin, this innovative mobile solution provides synchronized text or audio description, in any combination of languages, all delivered simultaneously over a WiFi network and displayed on most common WiFi-enabled hardware (e.g., iOS and Android devices, notebooks, and tablets). Captions and descriptions are streamed to users' devices in synchronization with media displayed by a museum in an exhibit, theater or other venue.

Media Access Mobile was showcased for the first time at the IBM THINK exhibit, An Exploration into Making the World Work Better, at Lincoln Center in New York, September – October 2011, helping IBM celebrate its 100th anniversary in a most inclusive way.

Media Access Mobile in action at IBM THINK Exhibit with synchronized caption in Italian.
Media Access Mobile in action at IBM THINK Exhibit with synchronized caption in Italian.

"Media Access Mobile is just one of a long list of NCAM-pioneered innovations that use cutting-edge technologies to overcome barriers to access to culture, education, entertainment and the workplace," notes NCAM Director Larry Goldberg. "Thanks to Brad and his colleagues Rich Caloggero, Geoff Freed, Bryan Gould and Peter Villa for making MAM the latest innovation from NCAM."

IBM Human Ability & Accessibility Center Strategy & Solutions Manager, Seth Bravin, who attended the ceremony, said, "Congratulations to WGBH/NCAM and other award winners. Last year, I took a group of high school students from Lexington School for the Deaf to the IBM Think Exhibit. Our wonderful experience at the exhibit wouldn't have been possible without the Media Access Mobile technology."

Congratulations, WGBH/NCAM, on an award well deserved.

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