Broadcasting Accessibility Fund 2017 Annual Report

Table of Contents
 
1. Message from the Chair
 
2. Board of Directors
 
3. Highlights from 2017
 
4. Looking Ahead to 2018
 
5. Financial Statements of the Fund
 
 
1. Message from the Chair
 
As Chair of the Board of Directors of the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund (the Fund), I am delighted to present our fifth Annual Report, highlighting the achievements of the Fund over the past year and looking ahead to what promises to be a pivotal 2018.
 
The Fund was created as part of the tangible benefits package associated with Bell Canada’s acquisition of CTV. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approved its creation together with initial funding of $5.7M.
 
Our mandate states that the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund:
 
(a)  Acts as an independent and impartial funding body to support and fund innovative projects that provide platform-neutral solutions to promote accessibility of all broadcasting content in Canada;
 
(b)  Funds only projects that are incremental to the existing regulatory obligations of the broadcasting industry in Canada;
 
(c)  Funds projects which provide practical solutions that tangibly increase accessibility in broadcasting and which, whenever possible, make use of inclusive design principles to promote accessibility at the earliest stages and in the most cost-effective manner for new technologies and applications in Canada; and
 
(d) Provides efficient and accessible service in English and French, and provides documentation for grant applicants in the official language of their choice.
 
This past year was the Fund’s fourth year of full operation. The Board of Directors met on four occasions, three by conference call and one face to face meeting; an additional four projects were completed bringing the total number of completed projects to 8, delivering results that support and advance our mandate; and the third round of applications to the Fund was launched and finalized, with grants awarded to six more worthy applicants. This brings the total number of approved initiatives to 19, representing just over $1.9M in grant commitments for projects addressing a wide range of gaps in accessibility to broadcasting content across a number of platforms.
 
The Fund is fortunate to have in place a group of nine experienced, dedicated Directors and a CEO/Funding Officer with an exceptional expertise in the worlds of accessibility and broadcasting. As he continue to report to and work closely with the Board of Directors and especially with our Grant and Governance Committees, Richard Cavanagh has the demonstrated leadership skills to take the Fund forward in developing and completing a number of projects that meet our mandate and to chart our course forward as we address new challenges in seeking a permanent place in the Canadian accessibility landscape.
 
We look forward to reporting on the successful launch of the third round of projects funded through our core Grant Program, and on the fourth round of applications to the Fund in our next Annual Report.
 
2. Board of Directors
 
 
The Board of Directors governs and oversees the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund and approves all key decisions. The CRTC mandated that the Fund have nine Directors:
  • Four Accessibility Group Directors (one elected by each category of the Sight, Hearing, Mobility and Cognitive Groups);
  • Two Independent Accessibility Directors (elected collectively by all categories of accessibility groups); and,
  • Three Broadcasting Industry Directors (two elected by broadcasting industry business stakeholders, and one elected by broadcasting distribution undertaking stakeholders)
 
Stakeholders play a key role in the Fund, and will continue to do so going forward, as accessibility groups and the broadcasting industry have the opportunity to nominate and elect the Fund’s Board of Directors.
The Board met on four occasions in 2017: February16; June 5; August 17; and November 16. The Board will continue to meet on a quarterly basis through 2018.
 
Directors and Officers of the Fund for 2017:
 
Allister Byrne, Chair and Accessibility Director – Independent
 
Max Beck, Treasurer and Accessibility Director – Mobility
 
Chris Stark, Accessibility Director – Sight
 
Jim Hardman, Accessibility Director – Hearing
 
Bill Roberts, Accessibility Director – Cognitive Group
 
Dr. Charles A Laszlo, Accessibility Director – Independent
 
Heather Boyce, Broadcasting Industry Director – Business
 
David Errington, Broadcasting Industry Director – Business
 
Carl MacQuarrie, Broadcasting Industry Director – Distribution Undertaking
 
Richard Cavanagh – CEO/ Funding Officer
 
Ms. Boyce retired from the CBC and resigned her position with the Board of Directors in September 2017.
 
As noted below, a number of Directors will reach their full term in 2018, thus a process to nominate and elect new Directors was undertaken in late 2017.
 
3. Highlights from 2017
 
  • The following first round projects were completed in 2017. All were completed on time and on or under budget and are now self-sufficient, so that each is now a part of the accessibility profile of the organization/ institution, going forward.
    • Designing Screen Reading Capabilities for the 10-foot User Interface, Rogers Communications - $140,000. Extensive research on the development of simplified and inclusive mechanisms to assist blind and low vision users to discover and consume video content.
    • Broadcasting Accessibility Education for Hard of Hearing Canadians, Canadian Hard of Hearing Association - $125,000. An extensive project to assist hard of hearing Canadians with the accessible features of media devices, designed to build a base of knowledge including the producing of a web-based guide to device accessibility.
    • Enhanced real-time and post-production captioning for VoiceWriter captioning software, Mediac Systems LLC - $123,000. Updating existing software and developing new in-roads to voice recognition technologies, to improve both real time (live) and post production captioning processes.
    • Tecla Remote, Komodo Open Lab - $77,500. A Tecla switch device will enable users with limited mobility to control a range of media devices using the same controls used to operate wheelchairs. The Fund negotiated a royalty once the Tecla Remote reaches a commercially viable threshold.
  • The following projects remained in progress from the second round of funding; a number will be completed in early 2018.
    • Accessible Design for Broadcast Media – An Open Source On-line Course, Humber College - $130,900. The course will teach students how to incorporate accessibility features such as described image and video, alt-text and screen-readers, transcription and captions into broadcast media content. Open-source version will be launched for all Canadians to use for free.
    • Continuing the National Conversation: Making CBC Radio Accessible, CBC Radio - $61,953. CBC will build on its 2015/16 pilot program (made possible with a first round grant from the Fund) that made daily text transcripts of CBC Radio’s The Current available to consumers. The project will provide transcriptions for CBC Radio One’s As it Happens.  They will be available to the public within 24 hours after the program airs every day, free of charge. The project is fully Canadian, with the retention of a Canadian firm to support transcript production.
    • Understanding Consumer Responses to Live Closed Captioning in Canada, Captioning Consumers Advocacy Alliance - $141,250. Developing a survey research design for measuring subjective preferences of live closed captioning among different types of live closed captioning users. Includes consultations with Canadian and international experts, broadcasters and captionists; will further develop live captioned programming requirements and segments for a broad survey. 
    • Filmodio Access, CRIM - $101,442 (French-language project). Development of a new product called “filmodio”, an audio book for broadcast content. Project will use synthesized voice to combine audiovisual content with Described Video, in order to produce a kind of enhanced DV production. Builds from existing production technologies previously developed by CRIM.
    • Development of an accessible digital audio/video media player, Radio-Canada - $96,200 (French-language project). Radio-Canada will optimize its multiplatform audio/video media players in order to provide audiences with content in completely accessible environments complete with numerous accessibility functions, such as captions, navigation, keyboard shortcuts, well-worded command buttons and operation with various browsers.
    • Barrier-Free Emergency Communication Access and Alerting System, Canadian Hearing Society - $135,000. CHS will perform the research required to develop practical recommendations to make emergency broadcasting accessible for Deaf and hard of hearing consumers.  The recommendations will be used to inform members of the National Public Alerting System and associated broadcasting agencies.
  • Under the direction of the Grant Committee and with guidance from the CEO, the third round of applications was completed and six projects were selected for grants. Our established process requires applicants to submit a Letter of Intent and complete a detailed application to the Fund if invited to do so on the basis of their Letter.
 
  • All applications were reviewed and evaluated by the Grant committee, which met over two days in Ottawa to finalize its recommendations to the Board.
 
  • A total of $624,298 was committed to the following six projects, as approved by the Board of Directors in August, 2017:
    •  
    • Integrated Described Video Instructional Series (Accessible Media Inc., AMI), $85,000 - Will develop, produce and distribute a series of instructional videos on Integrated Described Video or IDV, a method of producing inclusive media content for “seamless consumption” by consumers with vision disabilities. The integration of describing key visual elements into content production itself circumvents the barriers to DV accessibility so commonly experienced by consumers who are blind or who have low vision (i.e. IDV eliminates the need for a secondary SAP audio stream).
    • Enhanced real-time and post-production captioning for VoiceWriter captioning software (PAVO Digital Inc., formerly Mediac Systems LLC), $81,440 – PAVO’s first project for the Fund focused on updating existing software and developing new in-roads to voice recognition technologies, to improve both real time (live) and post production captioning processes. The project was successfully completed in the summer of 2017, resulting in new captioning software with advanced functionality. PAVO requested an extension and additional funding to finalize preparation of the software for the market, including de-bugging and other technical clean up together with additional functionality for consumer ease of use that is common in the software development industry. Final user testing will also be conducted.
    • Market Survey: Continuing Education Course Series for Inclusive Media for Broadcast Production (Ryerson University), $11,995 – Ryerson will apply to the Fund in the next round to develop a continuing education Course Series in inclusive media for broadcast production, with a focus on learning re-speaking techniques for live captioning and Audio Description (AD) delivery and scripting. For this round, Ryerson a market survey to identify interest among adult learners in the course, the curriculum for which would be software-neutral and include a full range of re-speaking technologies, DV/IDV and a component on accessibility for short-form video.
    • SmartTones Powered Radio App for Increased Accessibility & Enhanced Audience Engagement (Radio Ryerson Inc.), $64,655 – Will create a new model for radio app accessibility, business development and enhanced audience engagement by building new accessibility features activated by inaudible tones called SmartTones. Focusing on consumers who are blind or have vision loss, the proposed technology will enable interface with Open Broadcaster Emergency System enabling notification beyond current regulatory obligations, and will become the receiver for audible second screen interactivity that will include audible contests, special offers and promotions and other information typically inaccessible to those with vision disabilities.
    • Mapping Physical Access Solutions to Broadcast Television (Neil Squire Society), $169,208 – A project focusing on how people with mobility disabilities can use existing and emerging assistive technologies to access a range of set top boxes, remotes controls, infrared hubs and broadcaster smartphone applications. Four phases are proposed, including definition of the problem, design of procedures, observation, analysis/interpretation and a communications matrix.
    • Universal Intelligent Assistive Devices for Media Content Accessibility (Carleton University), $67,000 – Will design and develop a generic, modular class of systems called Intelligent Assistive Devices focused on improving accessibility to content for people with mobility disabilities. Technical objectives include the developing of sensing modules; a core platform interface between different input devices and media systems like Apple TV; and intelligent tuning systems to adapt to specific user needs. Designs take into account the rapid technology changes in media devices.
 
  • The Fund negotiated a royalty with PAVO Digital that will return modest revenue to the Fund once VoiceWriter reaches the market and achieves a threshold of sales.
 
  • With the assistance of legal counsel, the Fund developed a series of Project Funding Agreements, one with each recipient, setting out project obligations contractually, and tying grant payments to project milestones. Projects were launched in late 2017.
 
  • Continuing the Grant Committee’s recommendation for a predictable, annual cycle of funding, the fourth round of funding will begin with a Call for Letters of Intent launching on February 1, 2018.
 
  • With respect to the Committees of the Board, the Governance Committee continued to meet with the CEO on a monthly basis to discuss progress and overall direction of the Fund. The Grant Committee met frequently to guide the overall grant application process, conducting significant work in the detailed planning required to launch and complete the second round of applications. The Audit Committee met on three occasions to review and make recommendations about the financial operations of the Fund.
 
  • To ensure a smooth and timely process, the 2018 Board Nominations and Election process was launched in November 2017. The Directorships of Mr. Chris Stark (Vision Group), Mr. Charles Laszlo (Independent) and Mr. Bill Roberts (Cognitive Group) conclude in June 2018, and a replacement was required for Ms. Boyce (Broadcasting Industry Director – Business). The process resulted in the nomination of candidates in all but the Cognitive Group seat, which will follow in early 2018. All nominations will be reviewed by the Nominating Committee prior to their formal appointment to the Board at the June 2018 AGM.
 
  • In order to ensure a balance of Board turnover between Accessibility Directors and Broadcasting Industry Directors, the Fund’s bylaws previously underwent minor revisions to allow for more flexibility in terms to be served by individual Directors. These changes have proven successful in enabling a staggered approach to Board nominations and elections that was not in place previously.
 
  • The CRTC was updated regularly on the progress of the Fund.
 
  • With a focus on improving administrative and project support, the Fund made two personnel changes in 2017. Ms. Catherine Morisset was retained as the Fund’s bookkeeper; and Ms. Alena Wickware agreed to fill a new position as the Fund’s part time Project Coordinator. The presence of both Ms. Morisset and Ms. Wickware has provided valuable support to the Fund’s work.
 
4. Looking ahead to 2018
 
The Broadcasting Accessibility Fund anticipates that 2018 will be a year that will mark a number of key events and achievements.
 
The fourth Call for Letters of Intent will be issued in February 2018. The Letters will be reviewed by the Grant Committee and those that meet the standards of the Fund will be invited to submit a full application. It is anticipated that a set of new projects will be approved with a brand new set of initiatives on the ground in the fall of 2018.
 
The Board of Directors will continue to meet quarterly to oversee the Fund’s direction and fulfilment of its mandate. The Governance Committee will meet with the CEO/Funding Officer each month to discuss the needs and direction of his office.
 
The Grant Committee will remain extremely busy in working through the challenges of reviewing and adjudicating applications to the Fund. Two other important tasks will also be undertaken: (i) an expansion of the Grant Program through a special initiative such as a Call for Proposals targeting consumer groups and/or a University Challenge or Hackathon to address a specific gap in broadcasting content accessibility and (ii) the establishment of Project Evaluation Criteria to identify how funded initiatives are advancing the mandate of the fund.
 
A “Results & Impact” Report and PowerPoint will be developed and widely promoted to multiple audiences, including consumer groups, broadcasters, other stakeholder groups, the CRTC, government agencies and others. This promotion of Fund activities will also continue to seek a broader range of applications to the Fund from multiple regions of Canada. The work of our Project Coordinator is also pivotal to these goals.
 
This focus on results and the impact of the Fund on addressing gaps in content accessibility will also provide a foundation for a Capital Growth Strategy initiated in 2017. Working with the Board of Directors and particularly with the Governance Committee, the CEO will spearhead efforts to attract additional financial resources to the Fund from both the public and private sectors.
 
The Nominating Committee will oversee the process of nominations and elections of Directors to the Board where member’s terms are expiring. The process for 2019 will begin in the fall of 2018 to allow ample time for stakeholder nominations.
 
The Audit Committee will continue to guide the financial health of the Fund, and oversee the development of a plan to seek further capitalization for the Fund. The Fund is required to limit administrative expenses to no more than 5 percent of the total fund, with Directors’ expenses limited to 1 percent of the total fund. The Fund will remain fiscally responsible in adhering to the established limits on spending. As noted above, additional sources of capital will be explored in 2018.
 
5. Financial Statements
 
 
 
 
6. Contact Information
 
 

CEO/Funding Officer

Broadcasting Accessibility Fund/Fonds pour

l'accessibilité

(613) 729-1891

(613) 915-5575

richard@baf-far.ca

 

 

Broadcasting Accessibility Fund 2016 Annual Report

Table of Contents

1. Message from the Chair

2. Board of Directors

3. Highlights from 2016

4. Looking Ahead to 2017

5. Financial Statements of the Fund

 

1. Message from the Chair

As Chair of the Board of Directors of the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund (the Fund), I am delighted to present our fourth Annual Report, highlighting the achievements of the Fund over the past year and looking ahead to what promises to be a very important 2017.

The Fund was created as part of the tangible benefits package associated with Bell Canada’s acquisition of CTV. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approved its creation together with initial funding of $5.7M.

Our mandate states that the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund:

 (a)  Acts as an independent and impartial funding body to support and fund innovative projects that provide platform-neutral solutions to promote accessibility of all broadcasting content in Canada;

(b)  Funds only projects that are incremental to the existing regulatory obligations of the broadcasting industry in Canada;

(c)  Funds projects which provide practical solutions that tangibly increase accessibility in broadcasting and which, whenever possible, make use of inclusive design principles to promote accessibility at the earliest stages and in the most cost-effective manner for new technologies and applications in Canada; and

(d) Provides efficient and accessible service in English and French, and provides documentation for grant applicants in the official language of their choice.

This past year was the Fund’s third year of full operation. The Board of Directors met on five occasions, four conference calls and one face to face meeting; the first projects from our inaugural round of funding were completed, delivering results that support and advance our mandate; and the second round of applications to the Fund was launched and completed, awarding grants to six more worthy applicants. This brings the total number of projects to 13, representing just over $1.3M in grant commitments for projects addressing a broad range of accessibility barriers to broadcasting content.

The Fund is fortunate to have in place a group of nine experienced, dedicated Directors and a CEO/Funding Officer with an exceptional expertise in the worlds of accessibility and broadcasting. Reporting to and working closely with the Board of Directors and especially with our Grant and Governance Committees, Richard has the demonstrated leadership skills to take the Fund forward in developing and completing a number of projects that meet our mandate.

We look forward to reporting on the successful launch of the second round of projects funded through our core Grant Program, and on the third round of applications to the Fund in our next Annual Report.

2. Board of Directors

The Board of Directors governs and oversees the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund and approves all key decisions. The CRTC mandated that the Fund have nine Directors:

  • Four Accessibility Group Directors (one elected by each category of Sight, Hearing, Mobility and Cognitive groups);
  • Two Independent Accessibility Directors (elected collectively by all categories of accessibility groups); and,
  • Three Broadcasting Industry Directors (two elected by broadcasting industry business stakeholders, and one elected by broadcasting distribution undertaking stakeholders)

Stakeholders play a key role in the Fund, and will continue to do so going forward, as accessibility groups and the broadcasting industry have the opportunity to nominate and elect the Fund’s Board of Directors.

The Board met on five occasions in 2016: February 11; April 14; June 2 (AGM); August 18; and November 17. The Board will continue to meet on a quarterly basis through 2017.

Directors and Officers of the Fund for 2016:

Allister Byrne, Chair and Accessibility Director – Independent

Max Beck, Treasurer and Accessibility Director – Mobility

Chris Stark, Accessibility Director – Sight

Jim Hardman, Accessibility Director – Hearing

Bill Roberts, Accessibility Director - Cognitive

Dr. Charles A Laszlo, Accessibility Director – Independent

Heather Boyce, Broadcasting Industry Director – Business

David Errington, Broadcasting Industry Director – Business

Carl MacQuarrie, Broadcasting Industry Director – Distribution Undertaking

Richard Cavanagh – CEO/ Funding Officer

3. Highlights from 2016

  • The following first round projects were completed in 2016. All were completed on time and on or under budget and are now self-sufficient, so that each is now a part of the accessibility profile of the organization/ institution, going forward.
    • Accessible Media Production Course, Mohawk College – $80,000. Student journalists receive mandatory, intensive training in producing content that is accessible across all media platforms.
    • Making CBC Radio Accessible, CBC - $62,000. New speech-to-text conversion technology is used to post daily transcripts of CBC’s award-winning radio program, The Current to CBC.ca. The Current reaches some 2.3 million Canadians each week. In addition, one American Sign Language (ASL) interpreted radio documentary is filmed and posted to CBC.ca each month.
    • Radio with a Voice, Vues et Voix - $116,000. Developed of a fully accessible web platform for Vues et Voix radio content focusing on disability- and accessibility- related stories and issues in the French language.
  • The following projects are in progress from the first round:
    • Tecla Remote, Komodo Open Lab - $77,500. A Tecla switch device will enable users with limited mobility to control a range of media devices using the same controls used to operate wheelchairs. (Completion – spring 2017)
    • Designing Screen Reading Capabilities for the 10-foot User Interface, Rogers Communications - $140,000. Extensive research on the development of simplified and inclusive mechanisms to assist blind and low vision users to discover and consume video content. (Completion – spring 2017)
    • Broadcasting Accessibility Education for Hard of Hearing Canadians, Canadian Hard of Hearing Association - $125,000. An extensive project to assist hard of hearing Canadians with the accessible features of media devices, designed to build a base of knowledge including the producing of a web-based guide to device accessibility. (Completion – fall 2017)
    • Enhanced real-time and post-production captioning for VoiceWriter captioning software, Mediac Systems LLC - $123,000. Updating existing software and developing new in-roads to voice recognition technologies, to improve both real time (live) and post production captioning processes. (Completion – summer 2017)

 

  • Under the direction of the Grant Committee and with guidance from the CEO, the second round of applications was completed and six projects were selected for grants. Our established process requires applicants to submit a Letter of Intent and complete a detailed application to the Fund, if invited to do so on the basis of their Letter.
  • All applications were reviewed and evaluated by the Grant committee, which met over two days in Ottawa to finalize its recommendations to the Board.

 

  • A total of $666,745 was committed to the following six projects, as approved by the Board of Directors in August, 2016:
  • Accessible Design for Broadcast Media – An Open Source On-line Course, Humber College - $130,900. The course will teach students how to incorporate accessibility features such as described image and video, alt-text and screen-readers, transcription and captions into broadcast media content. Open-source version will be launched for all Canadians to use for free.
  • Continuing the National Conversation: Making CBC Radio Accessible, CBC Radio - $61,953. CBC will build on its 2015/16 pilot program (made possible with a first round grant from the Fund) that made daily text transcripts of CBC Radio’s The Current available to consumers. The project will provide transcriptions for CBC Radio One’s As it Happens.  They will be available to the public within 24 hours after the program airs every day, free of charge. The project is fully Canadian, with the retention of a Canadian firm to support transcript production.
  • Understanding Consumer Responses to Live Closed Captioning in Canada, Captioning Consumers Advocacy Alliance - $141,250. Developing a survey research design for measuring subjective preferences of live closed captioning among different types of live closed captioning users. Includes consultations with Canadian and international experts, broadcasters and captionists; will further develop live captioned programming requirements and segments for a broad survey. 
  • Filmodio Access, CRIM - $101,442 (French-language project). Development of a new product called “filmodio”, an audio book for broadcast content. Project will use synthesized voice to combine audiovisual content with Described Video, in order to produce a kind of enhanced DV production. Builds from existing production technologies previously developed by CRIM.
  • Development of an accessible digital audio/video media player, Radio-Canada - $96,200 (French-language project). Radio-Canada will optimize its multiplatform audio/video media players in order to provide audiences with content in completely accessible environments complete with numerous accessibility functions, such as captions, navigation, keyboard shortcuts, well-worded command buttons and operation with various browsers.
  • Barrier-Free Emergency Communication Access and Alerting System, Canadian Hearing Society - $135,000. CHS will perform the research required to develop practical recommendations to make emergency broadcasting accessible for Deaf and hard of hearing consumers.  The recommendations will be used to inform members of the National Public Alerting System and associated broadcasting agencies.

 

With the assistance of legal counsel, the Fund developed a series of Project Funding Agreements, one with each recipient, setting out project obligations contractually, and tying grant payments to project milestones. Projects were launched in late 2016.

  • The Grant Committee recommended that a predictable cycle of funding take place on an annual basis. The cycle will begin February 1 each year, with sufficient time afforded for both Letters of Intent and Applications to the Fund. Based on the experience of the first two rounds of funding, projects will be on the ground by the fall of each year. The third round of funding will be announced on February 1, 2017.
  • The Board met on five occasions in 2016 in order with continued oversight of Fund operations and grants.  With respect to the Committees of the Board, the Governance Committee continued to meet with the CEO on a monthly basis to discuss progress and overall direction of the Fund. The Grant Committee met frequently to design and guide the overall grant application process, conducting significant work in the detailed planning required to launch and complete the first round of applications. The Audit Committee met on three occasions to review and make recommendations about the financial operations of the Fund.
  • There was no turnover on the Board in 2016; Mr. Bill Roberts was re-elected to serve as Director, Cognitive Group to 2018.
  • In order to ensure a balance of Board turnover between Accessibility Directors and Broadcasting Industry Directors, the Fund’s bylaws underwent minor revisions to allow for more flexibility in terms to be served by individual Directors. These changes will enable a staggered approach to Board nominations and elections that was not in place previously.
  • The CRTC was updated regularly on the progress of the Fund.

4. Looking ahead to 2017

The Broadcasting Accessibility Fund anticipates that 2017 will be a year that will mark a number of milestone achievements.

The third Call for Letters of Intent will be issued in February 2017. The Letters will be reviewed by the Grant Committee and those that meet the standards of the Fund will be invited to submit a full application. It is anticipated that a set of new projects will be approved by August 2017, with new initiatives on the ground in the fall of 2017.

The Fund’s website will be reviewed and if necessary updated by its design architects toward the end of 2017, which will mark the third full year since the website launch.

The Board of Directors will continue to meet quarterly to oversee the Fund’s direction and fulfilment of its mandate. The Governance Committee will meet with the CEO/Funding Officer each month to discuss the needs and direction of his office.

The Grant Committee will remain extremely busy in working through the challenges of reviewing and adjudicating applications to the Fund. In addition, the Grant Program will be expanded to include a widely distributed Call for Ideas, targeting consumer groups for suggestions on projects to advance accessibility to broadcasting content. Based on the deliberations of the Committee, a Request for Proposals may be issued for suggestions with the most merit.

To guide the Grant Program of the Fund, a comprehensive Broadcasting Accessibility Fund Grant Policy and Procedures Handbook will continue to be developed for use by the Board and members of the Grant Committee in evaluating and adjudicating applications to the Fund.

In addition, results of completed projects will be widely promoted in order to identify the successes of the Fund to multiple audiences, including consumer groups, broadcasters, other stakeholder groups, the CRTC, government agencies and others. This promotion of Fund activities will also target a broader range of applications to the Fund from multiple regions of Canada.

The Nominating Committee will oversee the process of nominations and elections of Directors to the Board where member’s terms are expiring. The process for 2018 will begin in the fall of 2017 to allow ample time for stakeholder nominations.

The Audit Committee will continue to guide the financial health of the Fund, and oversee the development of a plan to seek further capitalization for the Fund. The CEO’s focus on a capitalization strategy will intensify 2017, as the available pool of capital will be exhausted in 2020.

The Fund is required to limit administrative expenses to no more than 5 percent of the total fund, with Directors’ expenses limited to 1 percent of the total fund. The Fund will remain fiscally responsible in adhering to the established limits on spending. As noted above, additional sources of revenue will be explored in 2017.

5. Financial Statements

Appended "BAF 12.31.2016 Final Financial Statements"

 

6. Contact Information

Richard Cavanagh

CEO/Funding Officer

Broadcasting Accessibility Fund/Fonds pour

l'accessibilité

(613) 729-1891

(613) 915-5575

richard@baf-far.ca

 

 

Broadcasting Accessibility Fund - 2015 Annual Report

Table of Contents

1. Message from the Chair

2. Board of Directors

3. Highlights from 2015

4. Looking Ahead to 2016

5. Financial Statements of the Fund

 

1. Message from the Chair

As Chair of the Board of Directors of the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund (the Fund), I am delighted to present our third Annual Report, highlighting the achievements of the Fund over the past year and looking ahead to what promises to be a very exciting 2016.

The Fund was created as part of the tangible benefits package associated with Bell Canada’s acquisition of CTV. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approved its creation together with initial funding of $5.7M.

Our mandate states that the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund:

 (a)  Acts as an independent and impartial funding body to support and fund innovative projects that provide platform-neutral solutions to promote accessibility of all broadcasting content in Canada;

(b)  Funds only projects that are incremental to the existing regulatory obligations of the broadcasting industry in Canada;

(c)  Funds projects which provide practical solutions that tangibly increase accessibility in broadcasting and which, whenever possible, make use of inclusive design principles to promote accessibility at the earliest stages and in the most cost-effective manner for new technologies and applications in Canada; and

(d) Provides efficient and accessible service in English and French, and provides documentation for grant applicants in the official language of their choice.

This past year was the Fund’s second year of full operation. The Board of Directors met on seven occasions; the bulk of the Grant Program was created; and the first grants were awarded to seven very worthy applicants.

The Fund is fortunate to have in place a group of nine experienced, dedicated Directors and a CEO/Funding Officer with an exceptional expertise in the worlds of accessibility and broadcasting. Reporting to and working closely with the Board of Directors and especially with our Grant Committee, Richard has the demonstrated leadership skills to take the Fund forward in supporting and developing a number of projects that meet our mandate.

We look forward to reporting on the successful launch of the second round of projects funded through our grants, and on the third round of applications to the Fund in our next Annual Report.

 

2. Board of Directors

The Board of Directors governs and oversees the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund and approves all key decisions. The CRTC mandated that the Fund have nine Directors:

  • Four Accessibility Group Directors (one elected by each category of Sight, Hearing, Mobility and Cognitive groups);
  • Two Independent Accessibility Directors (elected collectively by all categories of accessibility groups); and,
  • Three Broadcasting Industry Directors (two elected by broadcasting industry business stakeholders, and one elected by broadcasting distribution undertaking stakeholders)

Stakeholders play a key role in the Fund, and will continue to do so going forward, as accessibility groups and the broadcasting industry have the opportunity to nominate and elect the Fund’s Board of Directors.

The Board met on seven occasions in 2015: January 15; March 12; April 8; May 28 (AGM); August 13; October 15; and December 10.

Directors and Officers of the Fund are:

Allister Byrne, Chair and Accessibility Director – Independent

Max Beck, Treasurer and Accessibility Director – Mobility

Chris Stark, Accessibility Director – Sight

Gary Malkowski, Accessibility Director – Hearing

Bill Roberts, Accessibility Director - Cognitive

Dr. Charles A Laszlo, Accessibility Director – Independent

Heather Boyce, Broadcasting Industry Director – Business

David Errington, Broadcasting Industry Director – Business

William (Bill) Abbott, Broadcasting Industry Director – Distribution Undertaking

Richard Cavanagh – CEO/ Funding Officer

 

3. Highlights from 2016

  • Under the direction of the Grant Committee and with guidance from the CEO, the first round of applications was completed and the first seven projects were selected for grants. The process required applicants to submit a Letter of Intent and complete a detailed application to the Fund, if invited to do so on the basis of their Letter.
  • All applications were reviewed and evaluated by the Grant committee, which met over two days in Ottawa to finalize its recommendations to the Board.
  • A total of $723,364 was committed to the following projects, as approved by the Board of Directors in August, 2015:

 

  • Accessible Media Production Course, Mohawk College – $80,000. Student journalists will receive mandatory, intensive training in producing content that is accessible across all media platforms.
  • Making CBC Radio Accessible, CBC - $62,000. New speech-to-text conversion technology will be used to post daily transcripts of CBC’s award-winning radio program, The Current to CBC.ca. The Current reaches some 2.3 million Canadians each week. In addition, one American Sign Language (ASL) interpreted radio documentary will be filmed and posted to CBC.ca each month. 
  • Tecla Remote, Komodo Open Lab - $77,500. A Tecla switch device will enable users with limited mobility to control a range of media devices using the same controls used to operate wheelchairs.
  • Designing Screen Reading Capabilities for the 10-foot User Interface, Rogers Communications - $140,000. Extensive research on the development of simplified and inclusive mechanisms to assist blind and low vision users to discover and consume video content.
  • Radio with a Voice, Vues et Voix - $116,000. Development of a fully accessible web platform for Vues et Voix radio content focusing on disability- and accessibility- related stories and issues in the French language.
  • Broadcasting Accessibility Education for Hard of Hearing Canadians, Canadian Hard of Hearing Association - $125,000. An extensive project to assist hard of hearing Canadians with the accessible features of media devices, designed to build a base of knowledge including the producing of a web-based guide to device accessibility.
  • Enhanced real-time and post-production captioning for VoiceWriter captioning software, Mediac Systems LLC - $123,000. Focused on updating existing software and developing new in-roads to voice recognition technologies, to improve both real time (live) and post production captioning processes.

 

  • With the assistance of legal counsel, the Fund developed a series of Project Funding Agreements, one with each recipient, setting out project obligations contractually, and tying grant payments to project milestones.
  • With the completion of the first round of applications, planning for the second round intensified. The Grant Committee developed a set of “lessons learned” to be applied to subsequent rounds of funding, and determined that all Calls for Letters of Intent would be issued in February of each year.
  • Under the direction of the Nominating Committee and the CEO, the Fund held its first round of nominations and elections to the Board of Directors. All directors who were eligible for re-election to the Board were elected by acclamation. While no additional stakeholders registered with the Fund, extensive work was undertaken to promote our mandate.
  • The Board met frequently in 2015 in order to oversee the inaugural grant application process. With respect to the Committees of the Board, the Governance Committee continued to meet with the CEO on a monthly basis to discuss progress and overall direction of the Fund. The Grant Committee met frequently to design and guide the overall grant application process, conducting significant work in the detailed planning required to launch and complete the first round of applications.
  • All of the Fund’s internal policies - Board Expenses and Per Diems, Code of Conduct, Conflict of Interest, Whistleblower and Investment – were reviewed and finalized. A new policy on Inclusion – Accessibility, Accommodation and Anti-ableism – was drafted in late 2014 and approved by the Board in 2015. It has been posted to our website, and attracted attention and applause as a model policy on accessibility for other organizations, nationally and internationally.
  • The CRTC was updated regularly on the progress of the Fund.

4. Looking ahead to 2016

The Broadcasting Accessibility Fund anticipates that 2016 will be a year that will mark a number of milestone achievements.

In what will become an annual event, the second Call for Letters of Intent will be issued in February 2016. The Letters will be reviewed by the Grant Committee and those that meet the standards of the Fund will be invited to submit a full application. It is anticipated that a set of new projects will be approved by August 2016, with new initiative on the ground by October 2016.

To guide the overall grants program of the Fund, a comprehensive Broadcasting Accessibility Fund Grant Policy and Procedures Handbook will continue to be developed for use by the Board and members of the Grant Committee in evaluating and adjudicating applications to the Fund.

The Fund’s website will be reviewed and updated by its design architects.

The Board of Directors will continue to meet bi-monthly to oversee the Fund’s direction and fulfilment of its mandate. The Governance Committee will meet with the CEO/Funding Officer each month to discuss the needs and direction of his office.

The Nominating Committee will oversee the process of nominations and elections of Directors to the Board where member’s terms are expiring. The Audit Committee will continue to guide the financial health of the Fund, and oversee the development of a plan to seek further capitalization for the Fund. The CEO’s focus on a capitalization strategy will intensify in the second half of 2016.

Under the direction of the Governance Committee, the CEO will also develop and launch a stakeholder relations plan in order to promote the Fund’s objectives and stimulate applications to the Fund from consumer groups. The plan will also look at ways of attracting interest in the Fund from a diversity of Canadian regions.

The Grant Committee will remain busy in working through the challenges of a first round of full applications to the Fund, and the Communications Committee will review and advise on the promotional aspects of the Fund.

The Fund will also review its by-laws, which after three years in existence require updating.

5. Financial Statements

To be appended

 

6. Contact Information

Richard Cavanagh

CEO/Funding Officer

Broadcasting Accessibility Fund/Fonds pour

  l'accessibilité

 

(613) 729-1891

richard@baf-far.ca

 

 

Table of Contents - Annual Report 2014

1. Message from the Chair

2. Board of Directors

3. Highlights from 2014

4. Looking Ahead to 2015

5. Financial Statements of the Fund

 

1. Message from the Chair

As Chair of the Board of Directors of the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund (the Fund), I am delighted to present our second Annual Report, highlighting the achievements of the Fund over the past year and looking ahead to what promises to be a very exciting 2015.

The Fund was created as part of the tangible benefits package associated with Bell Canada’s acquisition of CTV. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approved its creation together with initial funding of $5.7M.

Our mandate states that the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund:

 (a)  Acts as an independent and impartial funding body to support and fund innovative projects that provide platform-neutral solutions to promote accessibility of all broadcasting content in Canada;

(b)  Funds only projects that are incremental to the existing regulatory obligations of the broadcasting industry in Canada;

(c)  Funds projects which provide practical solutions that tangibly increase accessibility in broadcasting and which, whenever possible, make use of inclusive design principles to promote accessibility at the earliest stages and in the most cost-effective manner for new technologies and applications in Canada; and

(d) Provides efficient and accessible service in English and French, and provides documentation for grant applicants in the official language of their choice.

2014 represented the first year of full operations for the Fund. The Board of Directors met on eight occasions; retained the Fund’s first CEO/Funding Officer, Richard Cavanagh in May 2014; and proceeded to build the infrastructure necessary to fulfil our mandate.

The Fund is fortunate to have in place a group of nine experienced, dedicated Directors and a CEO/Funding Officer with an exceptional expertise in the worlds of accessibility and broadcasting. Reporting to and working closely with the Board of Directors and especially with our Grant Committee, Richard has the demonstrated leadership skills to take the Fund forward into 2015 as we begin the real work of funding projects that fully meet our mandate.

We look forward to reporting on the successful launch of the first projects funded through our grants, and the on second round of applications to the Fund in our next Annual Report.

2. Board of Directors

The Broadcasting Accessibility Fund is responsible to a The Board of Directors governs and oversees the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund and approves all key decisions. The CRTC mandated that the Fund have nine Directors:

  • Four Accessibility Group Directors (one elected by each category of Sight, Hearing, Mobility and Cognitive accessibility groups);

 

  • Two Independent Accessibility Directors (elected collectively by all categories of accessibility groups); and,

 

  • Three Broadcasting Industry Directors (two elected by broadcasting industry business stakeholders, and one elected by broadcasting distribution undertaking stakeholders)

Stakeholders play a key role in the Fund, and will continue to do so going forward, as accessibility groups and the broadcasting industry have the opportunity to nominate and elect the Fund’s Board of Directors.

The Board met on eight occasions in 2014: February 19; April 3; June 5 (AGM); July 17; August 28; October 6; November 28; and December 18. The frequency of meetings was designed to guide the Fund through a critical infrastructure process, and ultimately launch the first round of applications to the Fund before the end of the calendar year.

Directors and Officers of the Fund are:

Allister Byrne, Chair and Accessibility Director – Independent

Max Beck, Treasurer and Accessibility Director – Mobility

Chris Stark, Accessibility Director – Sight

Gary Malkowski, Accessibility Director – Hearing

Bill Roberts, Accessibility Director - Cognitive

Dr. Charles A Laszlo, Accessibility Director – Independent

Heather Boyce, Broadcasting Industry Director – Business

David Errington, Broadcasting Industry Director – Business

William (Bill) Abbott, Broadcasting Industry Director – Distribution Undertaking

Richard Cavanagh – CEO/ Funding Officer

3. Highlights from 2014

  • We retained Richard Cavanagh as our CEO/Funding Officer. With a background that combines broadcasting and accessibility, he has quickly demonstrated the unique set of skills in leadership, stakeholder relations and project management needed to move the Fund through its next phases.
  • We developed a new website, which was methodically designed with exceptional accessibility features; www.baf-far.ca. As an example of its leading edge accessible design, a number of trials were conducted to determine the best features for blind and low vision consumers, and most pages were translated into both ASL and LSQ. The website was launched in December 2014, concurrent with the Fund’s first Call for Letters of Intent.
  • The Board met frequently and, with the CEO’s guidance moved into the first phase of the inaugural grant application process: a Call for Letters of Intent, a funding model designed to ensure that proposals are received and evaluated in advance of the work required to complete a full application to the Fund.
  • With respect to the Committees of the Board, the Governance Committee meets monthly with the CEO to discuss progress and overall direction of the Fund. The Grant Committee also meets frequently to design the overall grant application process.
  • Throughout the design of the website and the development of the grant application process, stakeholders were contacted for advice on key accessibility features, the business dimensions of grant programs and legal issues such as intellectual property.
  • All of the Fund’s internal policies - Board Expenses and Per Diems, Code of Conduct, Conflict of Interest, Whistleblower and Investment – were developed. A new policy on Inclusion – Accessibility, Accommodation and Anti-ableism – was drafted and will be approved in early 2015. It will serve as a model policy on accessibility for other organizations, nationally and internationally.
  • The CRTC was updated on the progress of the Fund.

4. Looking ahead to 2015

The Broadcasting Accessibility Fund anticipates that 2015 will be a year that will mark a number of milestone achievements.

The first set of Letters of Intent will be reviewed by the Grant Committee, and those that meet the mandate of the Fund will be invited to submit a full application to the Fund. The Grant Committee will oversee the application process, and upon approval by the Board, the first cheques will be issued to successful applicants in the third quarter of 2015 – and first projects will be underway.

A subsequent Call for Letters of Intent will be issued in early 2016, kick starting the next round of applications to the Fund.

To guide the overall grants program of the Fund, a comprehensive Broadcasting Accessibility Fund Grant Policy and Procedures Handbook will be developed for use by the Board and members of the Grant Committee in evaluating and adjudicating applications to the Fund.

The Fund’s website will be reviewed and updated by its design architects.

The Fund’s new Policy on Inclusion – Accessibility, Accommodation and Anti-ableism will be approved in early 2015. All other existing policies will be reviewed throughout the course of the year.

The Board of Directors will continue to meet bi-monthly to continue its oversight of the Fund’s direction and fulfilment of its mandate. The Governance Committee will meeting with the CEO/Funding Officer each month to discuss the needs and direction of his office.

The Nominating Committee will oversee the process of nominations and elections of Directors to the Board where member’s terms are expiring. The Audit Committee will continue to guide the financial health of the Fund, and oversee the development of a plan to seek further capitalization for the Fund.

The Grant Committee will remain busy in working through the challenges of a first round of full applications to the Fund, and the Communications Committee will review and advise on the promotional aspects of the Fund, exploring ways to leverage our state-of-the-art website and expand our social media presence.

5. Financial Statements

To be appended

6. Contact Information

Richard Cavanagh

CEO/Funding Officer

Broadcasting Accessibility Fund/Fonds pour

  l'accessibilité

(613) 729-1891

richard@baf-far.ca

 

Table of Contents - Annual Report 2013

1. Message from the Chair

2. Board of Directors

3. Highlights from 2013

4. Looking Ahead to 2014

5. Financial Statements

 

1. Message from the Chair

As Chair of the Board of Directors of the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund (the Fund), I am delighted to present our inaugural Annual Report that sets out the achievements of the Fund over the past year and sets the stage for the road ahead in 2014.
 
As an independent and impartial funding body, and the first of its kind anywhere, the Fund is uniquely positioned to support innovative projects focused on solutions to accessibility of all broadcasting content in Canada. Moreover, in seeking to increase accessibility to broadcasting content, the Fund encourages practical solutions, in English and/or French that make use of inclusive design principles, in order to promote accessibility at its earliest stages, and in the most cost-effective manner possible.

The past year was our first, and therefore represented a number of start-up initiatives, including the formation of an Interim Board; the drafting of by-laws; setting the process for the selection of Stakeholders who then voted on the permanent Board of Directors; the search for our first CEO/Funding Officer; and significant planning for what will become the Term of Reference for funding applications.
The Fund was created as part of the tangible benefits package associated with Bell Canada’s acquisition of CTV. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approved its creation together with initial funding of $5.7M. While we anticipate that the Fund will be operation in mid-2014 and that the first round of funding applications will be announced in the fall of 2014, a number of governance matters were successfully addressed in our first year.
First, it is important to reiterate that the Fund is an independent and separate, not-for-profit corporate body, and it is in turn responsible to a Board of Directors that governs the Fund and finalizes all key decisions. The CRTC mandate the Fund would have nine Directors:
Four Accessibility Group Directors (one elected by each category of sight, hearing, mobility and cognitive accessibility groups);
Two Independent Accessibility Directors (elected collectively by all categories of accessibility groups); and,
Three Broadcasting Industry Directors (two elected by broadcasting industry business stakeholders, and one elected by broadcasting distribution undertaking stakeholders)

The initial Directors will generally serve a term of either two or three years, to ensure continuity.

Stakeholders play a key role in the Fund, and will continue to do so going forward; accessibility groups and the broadcasting industry have the opportunity to nominate and elect the Directors – and the permanent Board then undertook the task of searching for the Fund’s first CEO/Funding Officer. This process was well underway by the end of 2013.

The Fund now has in place a group of Directors with deep experience in accessibility and broadcasting, and the new, permanent Board met twice in the latter part of the year. With much of the work on governance completed, we now turn our attention to the core task of our mandate: to develop the criteria for funding new and innovative projects that will advance accessibility to broadcasting content. We look forward to reporting on the successful launch of Fund operations and the initial funding of new projects, in our next Annual Report.

2. Board of Directors

The first meeting of the permanent Board of Directors took place on July 30, 2013. Officers were elected and Audit, Governance, and Nominating committees were struck and are already at work. A subsequent meeting was held on November 6, 2013.
Officers and Directors are:
Allister Byrne, Chair and Accessibility Director – Independent
Max Beck, Treasurer and Accessibility Director – Mobility
Chris Stark, Accessibility Director – Sight
Gary Malkowski, Accessibility Director – Hearing
Bill Roberts, Accessibility Director - Cognitive
Dr. Charles A Laszlo, Accessibility Director – Independent
Heather Boyce, Broadcasting Industry Director – Business
David Errington, Broadcasting Industry Director – Business
William (Bill) Abbott, Broadcasting Industry Director – Distribution Undertaking

3. Highlights from 2013

The Interim Board of Directors established a stakeholder-based process for nominating and electing the permanent Board.
The nominations and election process took place, and successfully brought nine Directors to the first permanent Board of Directors of the BAF.
Key committees were immediately struck, including Audit, Governance and Nominating.
Two meetings of the Board of Directors were held, in July and November.
The Board established a number of core policies, including:

Board Expenses and Per Diems
Code of Conduct
Conflict of Interest
Whistleblower
Investment

A search firm was retained to begin the process of hiring the Fund’s first CEO/ Funding Officer. A list of excellent candidates was finalized in December 2013.

 

4. Looking ahead to 2014

The Broadcasting Accessibility Fund anticipates that 2014 will be a year of tremendous strides. A CEO/Funding Officer will be in place by the spring; the Fund will be operational by the end of June; and the terms of reference for funding applications will be developed and implemented, with the first call for funding applications anticipated by the fall of 2014.

We anticipate that the first projects will have funding in place before the end of the 2014 calendar year.

In order to ensure the broadest possible range of eligible applications, the Fund will be widely promoted among key stakeholders in the disability community, the research community, the broadcasting industry and government agencies including the CRTC.

Given the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund is a unique and independent funding organization, we are truly excited about the calibre of project ideas we will attract, and the measurable success we will have in advancing accessibility to broadcasting content in Canada.

5. Financial Statements

To be appended