I recently read some obscene statistic about the HUGE amount of video that is getting uploaded to the Web everyday. It’s a probably safe bet to say that the majority of that online video doesn’t have any captioning. This is a big problem for people who are deaf or hard of hearing and are trying to understand the message of your video. According to Gallaudet University, about 8.6% of the American population or 20+ million people have some form of hearing problems.
Captioning takes time and its not easy. I wish there was a magic button that you could press and captions would magically appear on the videos you were making.
Regardless, the W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 has the Success Criteria 1.2.1 which says:
1.2.1 Captions (Prerecorded): Captions are provided for prerecorded multimedia, except for multimedia alternatives to text that are clearly labeled as such.
Well authoring tool vendors and developers have responded to our call for better tools.
In the latest version of Adobe Flash CS3, there is integrated captioning functionality. According to Adobe Accessibility Engineer While, I haven’t seen this at work. I’m pretty excited that Adobe has made this a priority. “delivering captioning in Flash really easy.”
There is also MAGpie, the free open-source tool from WGBH’s National Center for Accessible Media. If you already have the transcript for your video, you can quickly turn the transcript into the xml file format you need to make captions for your online video. I have seen it in action. It’s not super seamless but it gets the job done.
The US Library of Congress has started to integrate the use of MAGpie and Flash video to provide captioning for some of their videos. Check out the videos for the MacDowell Exhibit. (Full Disclosure: With my government contracting job, I work at the Library of Congress full time.)
One of the most interesting tools I have seen is dotSub. You can submit your video to the service and then you or any of the members of the service can transcribe and caption the video. Once you have the initial captioning done, the captions can be translated into many languages. This is all done through the wisdom and knowledge of the community.
Lee Lefever did it with his Wikis In Plain English video. dotSub really worked for him. Not only was he able to get his video transcribed and captioned in English. It was also subtitled into a dozen other languages. His video is now accessible to people with auditory disabilities where it wasn’t before.
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