FCC Proposes Changes to EAS to Improve Clarity, Accessibility of Visual Alerts
Tuesday, December 14, 2021 | Comments

The FCC proposed action to improve the clarity and accessibility of visual Emergency Alert System (EAS) messages to the public, particularly to people who are deaf or hard of hearing, and launched an examination of broader measures to enhance the system’s overall functionality and accessibility.

First, in a notice of proposed rulemaking adopted at the commission’s December 14 meeting, the commission proposed rule changes to improve the clarity and descriptiveness of the visual message that appears on television during nationwide EAS tests in order to better inform members of the public who are unable to access the test’s audio message.

Second, the commission proposed to require broadcasters, cable systems and other EAS participants to check for and use, when available, the internet-based version of alerts rather than the legacy “over-the-air” version when transmitting alerts to the public. The EASis comprised of both a legacy broadcast system and an internet-based Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) system, with the latter offering superior visual messaging capabilities.

Third, in a notice of inquiry also adopted at the meeting, the commission sought comment on whether the legacy EAS architecture can be modified, augmented or redesigned to enable government alert originators to relay more visual information as part of, or in parallel with, their alert message. The commission is also seeking comment on ways to improve the legacy EAS architecture to enable more functionality within the system as a whole.

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