Dicapta logo with the tagline - Accessible Communication Developers.

Big Step in Access to Television for People with Hearing Disabilities in Colombia


Sign language symbol. Black silhouette of 2 hands facing each other

Last March, the Colombian TV National Authority (ANTV) made official the rules for implementation of access systems for the content transmitted on public TV for people with hearing disabilities.

Since 1995, the Colombian government has been working on these rules. In fact, the ruling requiring sign language or closed caption in a certain number of broadcasted programs went into effect in January 2004. However, the scope of that ruling was very limited and relatively few programs received closed caption or sign language.  Finally, on March 18, 2016, ANTV released Resolution 350 requiring TV operators and licensees to implement access systems with the following coverage: 60% of TV programming must have closed caption or subtitles by June 30, 2016, and 100% by January 31, 2017.

The access systems to be used are:

  • Colombian sign language interpretation
  • Hidden text or closed caption
  • Subtitles
  • Other systems or mechanisms developed that have the endorsement of the competent authority.

ANTV deserves congratulations for completing a complex process to finally give equal access to people with hearing disabilities. The process included judicial reviews, revisions, technical and financial studies as well as solicitation and consideration of public comments.

In Latin America, Colombia joins the accessibility efforts of Chile, Argentina and Brazil, which involved different degrees of subtitle inclusion for TV.

We hope that future accessibility evaluations by ANTV include the definition and supervision of quality parameters that take into account aspects such as: synchronization of subtitles and dialogue, duration of subtitles, contrasts between subtitles and background contrast, inclusion of sound effects, etc.

ANTV has made great progress! Unfortunately, those with vision disabilities are far from receiving equal access to public TV broadcast content.  Hopefully future regulation will include audio description service, which is a narrated description of key visual elements that are important for understanding situations shown in a television program, movie, video, theatre play or any other audiovisual material.