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Described and Captioned Media Program

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Title: Described and Captioned Media Program  
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Described and Captioned Media Program

Described and Captioned Media Program
Founded 1950
Focus Deaf education, Blind education, promote equal accessibility, captioning, audio description
Area served United States of America

The Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP), originally known as Captioned Films for the Deaf, Inc. in 1950,[1] and later known as Captioned Films and Videos and the Captioned Media Program, is a national nonprofit funded by the United States Department of Education under federal Public Law 85-905. It is currently administered by the National Association of the Deaf.

The DCMP houses a national library of accessible educational media (e.g., DVDs, CD-ROMs, and streaming video) that is available to teachers and parents/guardians of K-12 students who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, visually impaired, or deaf-blind. It also maintains a search gateway that allows users to selectively search across the DCMP clearinghouse of accessibility-related articles on deafness, blindness, accessibility, captioning, and description, including collaborator websites.

DCMP Mission and Vision Statement

The mission of the DCMP is to promote and provide equal access to communication and learning through described and captioned educational media. The ultimate goal of the DCMP is for accessible media to be an integral tool in the teaching and learning process for all stakeholders in the educational community, including students, educators and other school personnel, parents, service providers, businesses, and agencies.

The DCMP supports the U.S. Department of Education Strategic Plan for 2007–2012 by committing to the following goals:

  • Ensuring that all students who are blind, visually impaired, deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind have the opportunity to achieve the standards of academic excellence.
  • Advocating for equal access to educational media as well as the establishment and maintenance of quality standards for captioning and description by service providers.
  • Providing a collection of free-loan described and captioned educational media.
  • Furnishing a clearinghouse of information and research about accessible media.
  • Acting as a gateway to Internet resources related to accessibility.
  • Exploring and adapting new media and technologies that assist students in obtaining and using available information.


Lexington School for the Deaf

Captioned Films for the Deaf, Inc. was established in 1950 in Hartford, Connecticut. Founders Edmund Boatner, superintendent of the American School for the Deaf, and Dr. Clarence O’Connor, superintendent of the Lexington School for the Deaf, organized the program as a private nonprofit corporation. In a few years, a library of thirty captioned theatrical films was acquired.

Although the program was initially a success, more financial support was needed than could be provided by private funds. The possibility of government support was explored at length. Organizations, including the National Association of the Deaf, the National Fraternal Society of the Deaf, the Conference of Executives of American Schools for the Deaf, and the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf, lobbied Congress on behalf of the program.

In 1958 the Captioned Films for the Deaf, Inc. became federal Public Law 85-905. The private corporation dissolved, and its entire collection of films was donated to the government. In July 1959 the requisite funding was made available, and in October of that year the new federally run Captioned Films for the Deaf (CFD) program opened its doors to the public.

Although the initial purpose of the CFD was to provide subtitled Hollywood films to deaf people, Congress soon amended the original law to authorize the acquisition, captioning, and distribution of educational films.

In 1984 CFD introduced videocassettes and subsequently became Captioned Films/Videos (CFV). Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, 16mm films were withdrawn from the collection in favor of the more widely used VHS format. Likewise, in the mid-to-late 1990s, DVD, interactive CD-ROM, and streaming media gradually took over as the formats of choice in many schools and homes across the country. To reflect this evolution, CFV was again rebranded as the Captioned Media Program (CMP). This change occurred simultaneously with an increased focus on accessible media for K-12 students and their teachers and parents. In 2006 the CMP began serving students with vision loss, and once again changed its name to the Described and Captioned Media Program.

Along the way, the program established quality standards for captioned media, particularly that which is used in educational settings. The Captioning Key: Guidelines and Preferred Techniques (now known as the Captioning Key for Educational Media) is a manual designed to encourage high-quality captioning standards. Given its wide circulation and constant evolution, the Captioning Key remains an important component of the DCMP’s services today.

DCMP service to students who are blind or visually impaired involves another essential accessibility tool: audio description. In October 2008 the DCMP also released its Description Key for Educational Media. Developed in partnership with the American Foundation for the Blind, the Description Key is a first-of-its-kind reference for description vendors. The DCMP also evaluates American captioning and description vendors according to these guidelines.


Today approximately 4000 captioned and/or described media items are available for free-loan to qualified DCMP members; students who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, visually impaired, or deaf-blind—and teachers, parents, and others who work with these students—are eligible to borrow these materials. Registration information is available on the DCMP homepage.

External links

  • Described and Captioned Media Program homepage
  • Captioning Key for Educational Media
  • Description Key for Educational Media


  1. ^ Gannon, Jack. 1981. Deaf Heritage–A Narrative History of Deaf America, Silver Spring, MD: National Association of the Deaf, p. 266-270
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