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December 14, 2006

WGBH to Receive $1 Million from the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation

Gift will Support Efforts to Make New Media Platforms Accessible by People with Disabilities

WGBH has received a $1 million commitment from the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation to support the public broadcaster's work in making media accessible to people with disabilities, President Henry Becton, Jr. announced today.

The philanthropic gift provides WGBH's National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) with $1 million over six years to research and develop new media access technologies, while also supporting the center's efforts to advance public policy debate surrounding accessibility issues. In recognition of the gift, NCAM's facilities at WGBH's new studio complex in Brighton will be named The Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media at WGBH.

"We are extremely grateful to the Shapiro Family for their support and generosity," Becton said. "This gift will enable WGBH to continue to pursue new advancements in accessible media and other communications technologies."

Rhonda Zinner, president of the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation, said the foundation was pleased to support WGBH's continuing efforts to make media accessible to all communities and audiences.

"WGBH has a long history of developing new technologies that improve the quality of life for individuals with disabilities," Zinner said. "We are delighted to support this important work and honored to have the Shapiro Family name associated with WGBH's National Center for Accessible Media."

Larry Goldberg, WGBH's director of Media Access, noted that the Shapiro Family Foundation's six-year funding commitment will provide the center with the financial stability necessary to research and develop ways of making new media platforms accessible by people with disabilities.

"It's somewhat ironic that in 2006-- the year by which the federal government mandated that 100 percent of all TV content be closed captioned-- we now see so much content migrating to the Internet, iPods and other platforms, without any captions (or video description for blind people)," Goldberg said. "The Shapiro gift will enable NCAM to anticipate barriers and opportunities in emerging media platforms, and to start early in making 'the next big thing' accessible for people with sensory disabilities."

In the 1970s, WGBH made history when it developed captioning for deaf and hard of hearing TV viewers. It later pioneered Descriptive Video Service® (DVS®)-- which provides blind and visually impaired viewers with an audio narration of a program's visual elements-- before developing MoPix®, its patented system that provides both captions and descriptive video for feature films. More than 300 theaters in the U.S. and Canada now offer the MoPix technology, enabling patrons with disabilities to enjoy first-run feature films at the same time as their sighted and/or hearing family and friends.

In 2007, WGBH will mark the 35th anniversary of the first-ever captioned television broadcast: an episode of WGBH's beloved cooking series, The French Chef with Julia Child.

"It's extremely gratifying that the Shapiro Family Foundation recognizes the importance of making media accessible to everyone," Goldberg said. "This generous gift will help us make that happen."

About The Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation

The Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family Foundation was established in 1961. The Foundation's areas of interest are arts and culture, education, health and hospitals, Jewish life and social welfare. Grants are concentrated in Greater Boston and Palm Beach County, Florida. The Foundation's tradition of giving has been characterized by major capital projects, multi-year programmatic grants and three strategic community-focused initiatives. The first, the Disability Inclusion Initiative, aims to promote the well-being of individuals with disabilities by increasing access to assistive technology and expanding opportunities in sports, recreation and the arts. The second, the Youth in the Arts Initiative, provides funding for after-school art programs for at-risk youth. The third, launched this fall, is called the Empowerment Initiative. It targets its funds to a variety of programs that enable and support individual empowerment.

About WGBH

WGBH Boston is America's preeminent public broadcasting producer, the source of fully one-third of PBS's prime-time lineup, along with some of public television's best-known lifestyle shows and children's programs and many public radio favorites. WGBH is the number one producer of Web sites on, one of the most trafficked dot-org Web sites in the world. WGBH is a pioneer in educational multimedia and in technologies and services that make media accessible to the 36 million Americans who rely on captioning or video descriptions. WGBH has been recognized with hundreds of honors: Emmys, Peabodys, duPont-Columbia Awards... even two Oscars. In 2002, WGBH was honored with a special institutional Peabody Award for 50 years of excellence. For more information visit


Mary Watkins
Media Access Group at WGBH
617 300-3700 voice
617 300-2489 TTY