The FCC has issued an Enforcement Advisory reminding Emergency Alert System (EAS) participants of their duty to comply with visual and aural accessibility requirements. The requirements ensure that individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, or blind or visually impaired, have full access to EAS messages.
The FCC reminded video-based EAS participants (television broadcast stations, cable systems, wireline video systems, and DBS providers) that they are required to display the visual message portion of an EAS alert in full at least once during any EAS message, at the top of the television screen or where it will not interfere with other visual messages; and in a manner (font size, color, contrast, location, and speed) that is readily readable and understandable and that does not contain overlapping lines of EAS text or extend beyond the viewable display (except for video crawls that intentionally scroll text). EAS participants are also required to play the audio portion of an EAS message in full at least once during any EAS message.
The FCC also reminded EAS participants to ensure that visual messages scroll at a speed that allows viewers to read and understand the message, and that the background and text colors sufficiently contrast to allow for easy readability. Audio messages should be spoken at a pace that allows listeners to easily understand the content.
The FCC encourages EAS participants to include a scroll or other visual component in weekly tests. Tests and alerts should be reviewed for accuracy, and participants should check to make sure that EAS messages do not interfere with closed captions. Participants are also encouraged to monitor state EAS plans for further information about EAS accessibility.
Failure to comply with the EAS accessibility requirements can result in sanctions, including monetary forfeitures.
If you have questions about EAS requirements, please contact any attorney in our office.