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Required Plug-ins, Players and Readers

The FCC provides information on its web site in a variety of file formats that best match the transmittal and display requirements of the information, while taking into account the level of resources typically available to its visitors. Most of these file formats are easily read and displayed by standard web browsers or word processing programs, but some files whose formats have been specifically developed for transmitting and displaying special content, such as multimedia or very precisely defined documents, may require the use of additional software to be presented correctly. Visitors to the site can download and install on their computers free add-on programs called "plug-ins", readers or players that will enable their browsers to display or play the content of these files. The special file formats that are currently used on the FCC web site are Acrobat, RealMedia and Flash. Information on these formats, and links for downloading the required Plug-ins, Players and Readers are provided below.


Acrobat Reader for Portable Document Format (PDF) Files

Documents saved as PDF files retain all of the formatting of the original document including fonts, footnotes, headers, footers, and graphics. These documents can be viewed, navigated, searched, and printed from most Windows, DOS, UNIX, or MAC platforms that have Acrobat Reader software (free from Adobe Systems, Inc.) installed and configured for use with the browser.

If the Acrobat Reader does not appear when you click on a link for a PDF file, you can download the Acrobat Reader Software from the Adobe Acrobat web site. Once you've downloaded and installed the reader following the on-screen instructions, you may need to configure it as a browser plug-in or helper application so that you can view any PDF file on the Internet automatically by clicking on its hotlink (just as you would any other web page link). After this one-time setup, you can automatically view any PDF document.

The FCC generates most of its PDF files directly from their original electronic formats so that the resulting PDF files are accessible to visitors who use assistive devices with the latest version of the free Acrobat Reader. Adobe has produced the following step-by-step guide designed to assist people with disabilities such as blindness or low vision to work more effectively with PDF files: Reading PDF Documents with Adobe Reader 6.0, A Guide for People with Disabilities [ Text | Acrobat ]

PDF files created from scanned originals are processed using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) techniques, when possible, to convert the scanned words to editable, accessible text. Alternative formats are available for scanned PDF files that have not been converted to text. Adobe Systems, Inc offers access.adobe.com, a resource designed to help people with visual disabilities work more effectively with Adobe Acrobat software and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) files.


RealPlayer for RealMedia Files

The FCC uses RealNetworks’ RealMedia technology to convert multimedia content such as audio/video programs, text, graphics and animation into computer files that are encoded so that they can be efficiently transmitted over the Internet, decoded, and played on the user’s computer in real time. This streaming technology allows the user to hear and see the clip almost immediately without having to wait for the entire file to download. The processing, transmission, and storage of the media files takes place on a computer server that the FCC has set up for that purpose. This server is currently configured to support up to 200 simultaneous Internet users. Your RealPlayer will display a message indicating that the capacity has been reached whenever you attempt to access a multimedia stream while there are already 200 or more other users playing FCC multimedia files.

In order to play audio or display video from this site, you must have a computer with a sound board, speakers, and an internet connection. You must also have RealPlayer software installed on your computer and configured to work with your browser. You can download the free RealPlayer from the RealNetworks web site. Look for and follow the links that lead to the download page for the free version of the RealPlayer.


Flash Player for Shockwave Flash Files

Some information on the FCC web site is provided in the form of Macromedia Flash formatted files. This format is used to deliver animations, presentations, applications, audio or other multimedia or interactive content. The Flash format is designed to be more compact and efficient than the more traditional formats used to deliver this type of content. Content in this format can be automatically resized to fit the users screen, and it can be streamed to the browser so that you can begin viewing it before it's fully downloaded. If you don't already have it, you can download a free copy of the Flash Player from the Macromedia web site.



last reviewed/updated on 1/6/05 


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