Tag Archives: captioning

Recommended Reading for 3 December, 2010

Gentle reader, be cautioned: comments sections on mainstream media sites tend to not be safe and we here at FWD/Forward don’t necessarily endorse all the opinions in these pieces. Let’s jump right in, shall we?

It’s Your Fault! by that stunning and mysterious being, Chally, at the Don’t DIS My ABILITY blog:

The thing is, people with a disability need accommodations. Accommodations aren’t optional extras, they aren’t something we can give up if we try a bit harder. Neither are we out to get all the money/spots/benefits at the expense of the rest of the population.

Despite his disability, he wages war on HIV (I know, horrible title) by Chaitra Devarhubli at DNA India:

[Amrut] Desai visits various villages in Gujarat, where he conducts programmes on AIDS and educates villagers regarding the same.

UK: Access All Areas: Disability survey

Some 90% of people surveyed by the BBC believe the government should provide funds to make the workplace accessible for people with disabilities.

But 40% felt disabled people turned down job offers even when they were physically capable of doing them.

Deaf moviegoers sue Cinemark theater chain at the Associated Press (US):

Kevin Knestrick, an attorney for the plaintiffs, says Cinemark Holdings Inc. is the only one of the nation’s three largest movie chains not to offer closed-captioning equipment.

Sierra Leone: Disability Bill might become an Act on Friday by Poindexter Sama at Awoko:

it will institute, upon its enactment, a Disabled Commission, provide free education and vocational training for persons with disabilities at required levels, make provision for free medical care, ensure mobility in public buildings and public transports and a host of other facilities necessary for disabilities in all forms.

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Politicians care so much they make their message nonsense

Like a lot of people, I signed up for automatic emails from the various political parties in Canada. Because I live in Nova Scotia, the main federal parties that run here are the Conservative Party, the Green Party, the Liberal Party, and the New Democratic Party (often just the NDP). (If I lived in Quebec, I would also have the option of voting for the Bloc Québécois federally.) I dutifully signed up for all four of these parties, so I could be informed about the issues they think are important.

One thing that seems to be very important: YouTube videos! Each of the parties maintains their own YouTube channel, and they stock these channels with videos. Every week or two, I get another email from a political party that really wants my vote (or at least my money), and they often include links to the YouTube channel, or even embedded video. And every week or two, I respond like clockwork, asking them to please provide captioning and/or transcription of the video.

So far, the response has been silence.

I wonder if the reason for this is simply because there’s the new Auto-Captioning service at YouTube, which attempts to automatically subtitle a video a video. Surely this will provide a good working set of subtitles, right?

Ha ha. Ha ha ha.

In alphabetical order, let me show you what the YouTube auto-captioning displays when I try to watch political messages from my current or potential political representatives:

The Conservative Party of Canada:

An image description appears below

Image: Screen capture of a YouTube video, with subtitles that read “You don’t think that’s a whole group called american this country and you have to decide”

Actual quote: Voice Over: “Adopted Britain as his home. Called America his country.” Ignatieff: “You have to decide….” (This advertisement is discussing Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff’s past.)

Here is leader of the Green Party, Elizabeth May:

See below for image description

Image: Screen capture of a YouTube video, with subtitles that read “we’re on Friday evening breeze through across Canada will gather”

Actual Quote: Elizabeth May “…Where on Friday evening Greens from across Canada will gather.”

I will totally admit the Green example is not as terrible as the others. The Greens don’t have a lot of advertising at the moment. (Non-Canadians, this is in part because they’ve not got an actual member in the House. I count them as a national party because they run in all 308 Federal ridings, and May participated in the Federal Leadership Debate.)

The Liberal Party of Canada:

Description appears below the image

Image: A screen cap from a YouTube vid. Caption reads “the prime minister’s their lives for stroger’s we have a garden”.

Actual quote: “… The Prime Minister is there to inspire us to do our best, and we have a guy who….”

The New Democrats:

Image description is below.

Image: A YouTube screen capture. The caption reads “costs are skyrocketing so why does is Stephen harper dead”

Actual Quote: “Heating costs are skyrocketing. So why doesn’t Stephen Harper get it?”

This is what I wrote in one of my last emails to my MP about this issue:

I know disability and accessibility are things you care about too, Megan, so I hope that you will pass along my concerns to the NDP Leadership: Transcribing and subtitling/captioning of video and audio content is an accessibility issue. Providing both a transcript and subtitling allows for more Canadians to be able to access the message of the NDP. As well, it shows a commitment to accessibility and to including Canadians who prefer or require transcripts and subtitling, for whatever reason. As this is something I believe the NDP values, it would be helpful for the party, at all levels, to provide transcription and subtitling for all the videos that they produce.

Of course, subtitling your video (and providing a transcript) are not only for people who are d/Deaf or hard-of-hearing. They’re also for people who have audio processing disorders, who have difficulties understanding spoke English, who don’t want to turn up their volume, or even don’t have speakers or headphones on their computer. They’re for people who just want a transcript or subtitling because it makes their lives easier today. (For example, I have an ear infection and subtitles are the order of the day.)

Every political party in Canada “cares” about “the disabled”. They really do. Each one has a little subsection of their website dedicated to explaining how they “care” about “the disabled”.

I think it would be awesome instead of telling me how much they cared, they’d show it. And one way of doing that would be subtitling their ads, so everyone can know what their message is.

Recommended Reading for Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Another fast & furious recommended reading today, folks! Yay for busy schedules all around, right? I am glad I try to keep up with the news, though, because I learned that legislation passed in the US that will enforce captioning and descriptive audio! I don’t actually have a t.v., but the last time I stayed in a hotel I was very excited to learn that descriptive audio is used regularly on at least some Canadian stations. I’d love to see it, and proper captioning, available everywhere.

But, enough random commentary from me. Links for everyone!

I Am PWD: New Study Reveals Lack of Characters with Disabilities on Television

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month and a new report released today on minority representation on broadcast television shows that scripted characters with disabilities will represent only one percent of all scripted series regular characters — six characters out of 587 — on the five broadcast networks: ABC, CBS, The CW, Fox, and NBC. Not only is this invisibility in the media misrepresentative of people with disabilities, it also means few opportunities for actors with disabilities to be cast.

yasonablack in ontd_feminism: These Will Be The Only Things I’ve Learned From “Higher Education”

I had put so much work into college. I had fought through anxiety and panic attacks and mind-numbing boredom with classes. I always handed in my essays on time (except for that one), I took tests on time and finished them early, and I showed up for the majority of classes. I even participated in class on low anxiety days. I always made sure that college and education came before anything else, before a social life, before internet, before anything else. So I assumed that all I had to do to get back on an even playing field at school was meet with the school’s disability office and all would be good. Sure, I was disabled, but I could find alternate ways of getting around things. I had to. Everyone kept telling me how much harder it would be to get a job, so graduating would be even more important than ever. No one told me how much harder school would be.

One of the first things I’ve ever learned at college is the able-bodied rules of dealing with disabled classmates/students.

Lisa at Where’s the Benefit: The Human Cost of Benefit Cuts

Any loss of life is tragic. I hope that at least his death can serve as a wake up call to those attacking us that their actions do have very real consequences. Ultimately I would like to see Paul’s death prevent any more disabled people being put in the economic position where they feel that death is their only option.

Quotidian Dissent: Sitting In Wheelchairs, Standing Up For Their Rights [This is an internet news source about the ADAPT protest, so the language is a lot of “wheelchair bound” and “how brave!”]

The central focus this year is nursing homes. According to the group, programs like Medicaid favor nursing homes, which they say provide a lower quality of life, as a means of caring for those who need assistance. “I’m protesting to get people out of nursing homes all over the country. I’m here for them, because they cannot come down here themselves, and I can,” says Wallach.

Having lived in a Rochester nursing home until recently, Wallach is adamant that nursing home residents “have no rights. They eat what they’re served. They get a shower once a week! That’s it. There is nothing for them to do in a nursing home.”

In The News:

US: 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Legislation Passes. “The legislation requires captioned television programs to be captioned also when delivered over the Internet and requires video description on television for people with vision loss.”

Canada: Bus stop call system hits bumps. “A few glitches still need to be worked out in the new automated next-stop call system being installed on OC Transpo buses this week, according to riders.”

Caption This

The other day, I was bemoaning, as I occasionally do, the fact that HBO doesn’t provide digital content for people who are not HBO subscribers or who can’t get HBO where they are. I happen to be a fan of several HBO shows and I would really like to watch them as they air, rather than having to wait for DVD releases. While the network and cable models are different, I would be perfectly happy to pay for an access pass to watch HBO shows when they air, but HBO doesn’t provide this as an option. I used iTunes as an example of a platform that HBO could use to release content, following the model of the networks.

FWD reader codeman38 pointed out that iTunes doesn’t provide captioning for its television shows. Way to go, iTunes.

Captioning of online content is an ongoing problem. iTunes isn’t the only content provider that provides captions indifferently, if at all. Hulu captions some things and not others. Amazon Unbox does the same. And so forth. codeman38 pointed me to a recent post grading various online services on how well they provide captioning and it’s an illuminating read.

‘…it’s a blame game. Apple blames studios. Studios blame Apple. Nothing gets done,’ codeman38 says, and the same holds true for broadcast. While the networks and cable providers have captioning available, individual stations decide whether or not to offer it in their markets. That’s why, for example, some of my readers at this ain’t livin’ report that Glee airs without captioning while others say it is captioned.

Deaf and hard of hearing folks have been campaigning hard for captions for a long time. Marlee Matlin is a major champion of captioning for online content specifically. Captioning is a huge accessibility issue, especially online, where sites routinely provide video that is not captioned or described. This isn’t just a problem for folks who are Deaf and hard of hearing. It’s a problem when content is only accessible in certain countries; if I post a Hulu video, for example, only people in the United States can view it. It’s a problem for people with visual impairments, for people who have difficulty watching and processing video, for people with bandwidth restrictions, for people who are at work and don’t want to disturb people. There are all kinds of compelling reasons to make captions and descriptions of video content universal.

Apple claims to be ‘committed to accessibility.’ Yet, like a lot of companies and websites that talk a pretty talk about accessibility, Apple falls short of actually living up to the claims.

The Internet is an accessibility nightmare, and very few people seem concerned about it, unless they have disabilities that make interacting with digital content challenging. When Marlee Matlin can’t convince Apple to commit to captioning all of its content, how can unknown disability rights activists hope to accomplish it? When numerous campaigns pleading for accessible content get ignored, when captioning is considered a ‘special feature,’ it sends a very clear message. That message is: We don’t care about you. We don’t care if you can access our content. You are not someone we are interested in having as a viewer, reader, or customer.

What can we do about this? Well, we could start by sending a clear message to companies that don’t care about accessibility issues. How would Apple like it if customers boycotted content that wasn’t captioned? How would Hulu like it if people refused to watch or link to videos that were provided without captions? How would the networks like it if people canceled their television service until local affiliates started using captions? If folks who don’t need captioning still identified it as an important feature or even a dealbreaker, companies that aren’t providing it would start to take notice and do something.

Putting the onus for accessibility on the people who need accommodation is unreasonable. And it makes the problem seem like one that only applies to ‘those people.’ The toleration of the attitude that it’s ok to routinely deny access to a group of people is what leads to widespread inaccessibility.