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December 30, 2005

SpinVox

SpinVox 'converts your voicemails into text messages and sends them straight to your mobile phone or email'.

Perhaps of interest to Deafies who still get annoying voice mail messages, despite telling people to the contary.

There is a 7 day free trial and pricing plans that start from £5. For Deaf business users or employees, perhaps this might be claimed back from Access to Work?

Alternatively, just do what I do, and ignore. If the sender wants to be so stupid, then its on their own head ...

December 20, 2005

Growth of blogs

Forbes has predicted blog growth:

Blogs:

Number of blogs worldwide in 2005:
• 22 million

Number of blogs worldwide in 2010:
• Approaching 1 billion, spurred by Flickr and other new blog uses.

Highlights the need for current projects, and almost takes me back to Deaf UK in 1998.

December 13, 2005

Utilising online developments as a Deaf community

Frequently, there are a number of applications that are developed online, for a mainstream audience, but has direct benefit in so developing the grassroot Deaf community, or from an access perspective. This list is not exhaustive, and I may touch on other possibilities in the future. In the meantime, I will focus on two:

Vlogging:

The usage of BSL or sign language through vlogs started as an experiment in 2004, and since then vlogging has evolved within the mainstream. However, Deaf people have not really taken this up. Practical issues aside, blogs have not been connected within Deaf cyberspere, and Deaf people are still using traditional means of communication such as forums, and e mailing groups. However, this has dwindled to a large degree within the past year. To this end, key people need to drive the blogging movement forward, whether it be through the medium of BSL or English. The benefits of decentralisation of Deaf cyberspace has already been touched upon.

Archiving Videos:

Archives of Deaf material remains in private homes, or within archives that are attached to deaf organisations. There are a number of issues pertaining to this, including accessible and control of information. Ownership of such materials is an important one, and away from control of organisations towards a grassroot space. One of the major problems around this, is that BSL takes up much storage space, and to this end long term archive places should be taken advantage of.

Grouper: this works on a similar concept to Flickr, instead of photos, the content is video. Cloud tags are extremely beneficial, apart from popularity tags, it offers the possibility of other tag association (sub categories). Such a medium offers endless possibiities in so far as organising information goes. The site also offers RSS, which would allow you to follow prescribed tags such as 'Deaf', or a particular person's feed.

Our Media: 'We provide free storage and free bandwidth for your videos, audio files, photos, text or software. Forever. No catches. Providing a spectrum of media storage, has its obvious benefits. Being a one portal for free storage, and by different means could attract a diversity scrapbook of Deaf people's lives. The Internet Archive is one of the organisations behind this site, lending a certain amount of credibility.

Boltfolio: again a site that offers unlimited storage of video, photos, writing plus audio.

Podcasting Transcription Services

Podcasting is supposed to be the word of 2005, making it to the Oxford dictionary. The bottom line is audio files, that can be downloaded and listened to as a MP3 file. Its community base places no legal obligation on making content accessible to a Deaf market. However, there are a few services, which home in on podcast transcription services. This has a prime focus on being of text benefit for search engines, however, the secondary benefit for Deaf people is obvious. Currently there are a few services, most of which charge:

Enablr: $1 a minute

castingwords.com: this has yet to advertise its rates, however Business Blogs quotes:

It will allow Podcasters to purchase transcriptions of their shows. We’ll do the transcriptions and give them a full transcription - not just chunks pulled back by the search engine if it happens to index their show. Of course they automatically get listed in the engine, so this arrangement should drive traffic to them, get them transcripts, and get us the cash needed to keep on transcribing

This differs from other services, in that podcasts are already transcribed, but to access the transcription one needs to pay for access. It begs the question, hearing people get free access via sound, and a transcription is an extra benefit. What about Deaf people?

eScriptionist - $1.50 - $3.00 a minute.

Podcast Scribe: again this site charges, however it suggests the creator of the podcast transcibes their work:

Podscope: this site appears to be a Podcast search engine, but audio playback?

Podzinger: again a search engine, however results prompt you to play audio. If a company has taken the trouble to use text enable a podcast so that its search engine can be powered, it is a shame this text is not made available. Possible copyright issues?

Tech Synergy: suggests the podcaster pays for the transcription and lays out the potential benefits of doing so:

- Indexing audio for search engines and classification doesn’t work well. If your best content is only available via podcast, it’s effectively invisible. Consider using a transcription service to transcribe your podcast or at least excerpts of it for use as search engine fodder.
- Some people like to read the content rather than listen to it just because there is no easy way to skim an audio file to get to important or relevant content.
- Ability to reach a larger audience like hearing impaired people.
- Use formatted transcripts embedded with banner links and other marketing materials for advertising and monetize your podcasts.

This company clearly recognises the Deaf market.

Now where is Google in all this? What about indexing all podcasts, via text and making use of voice recognition software to enable this to happen?

Same Language Subtitling

The Official Google Blog has a piece on Planet Reed's Same Language Subtitling, which has been funded by the Google Foundation, plus adverts via Google Grants.

“Same-Language Subtitling” (SLS) methodology, which provides automatic reading practice to individuals who are excluded from the traditional educational system, or whose literacy needs are otherwise not being met. This is an educational program rooted in mass media that demonstrates how a specific literacy intervention can yield outstanding, measurable results, while complementing other formal and non-formal learning initiatives of the government, private sector, and civil society. We are fortunate to have just been selected as a Google Foundation grantee.

This blurb does not point out the obvious direct benefit for Deaf people, in addition to providing access for the mainstream. Whilst not wanting to detract the literacy issue, one wonders why this access issue is not highlighted? Sheer ignorance, or focus?

Do you know of mainstream online developments that could have a benefit to Deaf people as a community. I would love to see some blog posts.