May 11, 2008

BBC iPlayer Accessibility Update and Comments

Since I last blogged about the BBC's iPlayer, there's been developments but the access still leaves a lot to be desired.

Sign Zone now has a category of its own

People might remember that I complained about the trying to find a needle in the haystack, when attempting to source signed programmes. The BBC's Access 2.0 picked up on my comments in this blog post.

It seems the BBC has finally listened (yay!) and now has a Sign Zone category. Finally we can find programmes, to actually watch.

Subtitles - A Recent History

Subtitling has been riddled with problems within the past year, and for months we were without any subtitles. This was actually difficult to get the BBC to take any note, and for months it became talking to a brick wall. Replies you got were along the lines that painted you as a dunce, not knowing how to turn the subtitles on, instead of an end user who was capable of navigating and seeing something different.

Subtitling Now - The Theory

From the BBC's information page:

The programme information pages will let you know if subtitles are available above the Download button – if they’re available you’ll see Includes optional subtitles.

And you need an up to date download manager (which incidentally I have):

Click on the S button, which will only appear when subtitles are available, to make any subtitles viewable. If you have problems watching subtitles in full-screen mode, make sure you have the latest version of the Download Manager.

More information here, including turning on subtitles in Windows Media Player.

That's the theory, important read under the next sub header!

Subtitles in Practice - Labelling content as subtitled when it is not!

This is my current number one gripe. Absence of subtitles is annoying, but labelling programmes as being subtitled and they are not takes a sharp hike in the annoying scales. Here's an example, it says the programme to download contains subtitles:


So believing the BBC to be trusted, and factual you go ahead and download 400mb, only to find there's no subtitles to be had:


That is the latest version of iPlayer, and I know the S button works because it has been displayed for programmes that has actually contained subtitles.

Some examples of recent programmes labelled as subtitled, but actually not:

- Ex-Forces and Homeless
- Have I Got News For You (this week, last week, week before)
- Inside the Medieval Mind

There's more, but you get the picture. I've downloaded well over 4gb of supposed subtitled programmes recently, and only one of these programme was subtitled. Without subtitles I cannot access programmes, its as simple as that. Yet I'm expected to trust the BBC's access information, take the trouble to download something, to find out this information is wrong. So I take a chance with another programme, and another and the same mistakes are happening.

This all uses bandwidth. If that goes over my ISP limit I have to fork out additional charges, not to mention the power used perform these tasks. The BBC's negligence - because that is what it is, make no mistake about it - costs me money. Its not a one off mistake to forget to add subtitles, its recurring to the extent that the system cannot be trusted.

What's happening here? The BBC labelling programmes as subtitles to tick off some target, or something not co-ordinated?

Subtitling iPlayer - The Future

Subtitles for live streaming is not yet available, but indicates that it already should be:

At present, subtitles are only available for downloads, although we are working on making subtitles available for Click to Play (streaming) from early 2008.

The BBC missed that target then, since early 2008 has been and gone!

Jonathan Hassell, Acting Head of Audience Experience & Usability, said on the the BBC internet blog:

Going forwards, next on the roadmap is adding subtitles to iPlayer streams, which is something we're working hard on and hope to have ready some time in June or July.

This needs to happen as soon as possible, as a deaf people appear to be disproportionate users of alternative platforms. (The downloaded version of iPlayer only works on Windows). He goes onto state:

After that we'll be looking at the possibility of making subtitles available for iPlayer on other platforms, such as the wii or iPhone. We'll also be looking at the possibility of providing subtitles for those programmes which use live subtitles or those time-sensitive programmes which tend to change minutes before transmission. That's a whole new challenge.

That is good news, and I would certainly like to see subtitles available for Wii. Currently, we have two lots of downloads happening in my household - my family accesses iPlayer via Wii, and me via a download button (often to discover the subtitles aren't there). This puts pressure on bandwidth load, because I cannot watch iPlayer with the rest of the household. Why should we have to download something twice, because of a lack of access?

However, there's a case of part wanting to tell the BBC to walk before it can run here. Sort out your current problems first, because labelling is laughable. Its annoying. It cannot be that difficult to fix? Be honest, tell me its not subtitled before making me download.

See also:
BBC & accessible online content
iPlayer: A Deaf Perspective
BBC on YouTube, but where's the subtitles?
BBC iPlayer, Part 2
BBC Vision Celebrates 100% Subtitling

August 20, 2007

BBC iPlayer, Part 2

BBC's Access 2.0 blog has responded to my last post on iPlayer. It seems that the size of the font is going to be addressed:

Speaking to Andrew Strachan of the BBC’s Future Media and Technology Accessibility Team, he was able to confirm that adjustable text sizes are going to be incorporated into the iPlayer set-up. “The subtitles display facility to increase size of text will be a new feature in subsequent releases,” he said.

This is good news, and its nice to see some communication coming from the BBC. Blogging is a good thing, and counteracts a lot of frustration via communication. Something other organisations could learn from. The entry goes onto state:

Andrew Strachan was also able to reveal that improvements to search are in the pipeline. “The priority is to get the subtitles delivered to the iPlayer in the right way, then we can concentrate on adding new features such as the accessibility search facility.”

Sure, I get this line of reasoning, but I still cannot access subtitles in full screen mode, nor Windows Media Player. As stated in my previous entry, I don't want to watch this on a small screen.

Fintan has also done a review on BBC's iPlayer, which is considerably shorter than my last entry complete with screenshots! So if you wish to get a summary, I would suggest you go read.

Fintan also found that How to Be a Perfect Housewife has BSL! Seems BSL is subject to the same crappy navigation issues as English subtitles are. If Fintan had not blogged about this, I would have been completely oblivious that BSL was now available on iPlayer. What's the point in that? Make BSL available, and not tell anyone its there? As I already stated in my previous entry, BSL output is likely to be considerably less than subtitling, which highlights problems with navigation even more.

Dear BBC - I know you are busy trying to get the BSL and subtitles on programmes, but it cannot be that difficult to create a new category and assign such programmes to it. This should not come from a diversity department anyway, and should be addressed by iPlayer's core unit. Categorise in the same way as comedy, factual, children's is. Deaf people should not be some added on feature to follow a good few months later. Thanks!

See also:
iPlayer: A Deaf Perspective
BBC on YouTube, but where's the subtitles?
BBC & accessible online content

August 18, 2007

BBC on YouTube, but where's the subtitles?

The BBC is available on YouTube (channel only available in the UK). YouTube BBC Worldwide is available for those outside the UK. More about this on the BBC's website.

One question: where's the subtitles?

In fact I don't even see a button on YouTube to display captions if needed. When the BBC made a YouTube deal, why wasn't accessibility at the heart of this?

The corporation will also get a share of the advertising revenue generated by traffic to the new YouTube channels.

Both Google and the BBC is financially benefiting from this. The BBC is a public service, and it really is not okay to leave part of your audience out. As a large corporation, it has the negotiation weight to insist that subtitles are incorporated. So much for living in 2007, and access to be at the heart of decision making!

For a company filled with PhDs, Google really does not have the excuse to knock some code up to make subtitling an option, to turn on or off. Yesterday I blogged about closed captions being available in various languages for Google Video. Since its the same company, why hasn't access been carried over at the outset?

As a side note, I brought this point up back in June. I've got concerns re accessibility of YouTube for Ushers and deafblind, is the picture quality good enough to follow BSL (if that ever happened) or subtitling? I can't answer that question, as I don't fall into this category but as a person with good vision I know the quality of video on is not so good due to compression and how the picture is transmitted. Thus is a public service institution in danger of leaving out a significant chunk of the population?

Here we go again, who do we write a formal complaint to?

See also:
Google video: closed captions in multiple languages
iPlayer: A Deaf Perspective

August 17, 2007

Google video: closed captions in multiple languages

Google video now has closed captions in multiple languages. Shame people don't use it more though!

The irony is that blog posts says:

A video with a ton of available CC languages:

However there's no English subtitles to be seen? I'm not sure if they are simply not there, or the choices are so many that it goes under the thumbnails at the top. Does anyone know how to resolve this?

In the meantime, I'll just have to stick to subtitles in Welsh.

May 18, 2007

Subtitlers get arrested!

Boing Boing is carrying a post about subtitlers getting arrested:

In Krakow, Slask, Podlasie, and Szczecin, police arrived at the suspected subtitlers’ homes at 6 a.m. — and took them into custody. The story first appeared on the Polish Linux site, which states that “According to Polish copyright law any ‘processing’ of others’ content including translating is prohibited without permission.” Newspaper accounts report that the detained subtitlers face two years in jail if they’re convicted of illegally publishing copyrighted material — presumably including translated movie dialogue.


It goes onto suggest this stems from the USA:

Bush administration recently put Poland on a copyright "priority watch list," threatening economic sanctions if law enforcement in Poland did not take more forceful action against infringement.


A threat of economic sanctions against e.g. Poland: if you don't sort out the iissue, then we will stop trading with you. US government throwing its weight around, and resorting to bullying smaller countries here? I am not going to dissect that here.

However, I would like to ask the question, are firms or initiatives getting penalised, because people (who hold the original copyright) be bothered to make their content accessible in the first place? Will this affect how Project ReadOn and dotSUB plus any other subtitling output operates? What about genuine subtitling initiatives, because the mainstream cannot be bothered to be inclusive at the start?

Are these initiatives automatically described as "rogue"? In the meantime we are supposed to be denied access, until the companies get their act together, or some law is passed?

Skype for gamers?

Joe altered me to Ars Technica carrying a blog post about Skype busts into casual gaming market:

"People are increasingly using Skype to interact with one another, with many choosing to play simple games like checkers or backgammon," Amery said at the keynote. "However, the tremendous size of Skype's user base makes it an ideal environment for multi-player and community-based games in which people can play against or collaborate with one another."

Whilst these games would only be playable via Skype, and there's issues whether gaming developers will bite the bullet. However, you can see the trend as far as VoIP goes. Imagine trying to use Second Life of WoW, and insisting that people use text to plan e.g. raids in WoW.

Increasingly we are seeing the net mirror society, as far as inaccessibility goes. For the past 10-15 years, Deaf people have enjoyed a relatively easy oasis: the net suddenly presented a world without barriers, information and interaction was accessible. I fear that is about to end, and we are about to take a full loop. Instead of advancing, in many respects the net is about to go backwards. Solutions need to start being developed at the same pace as mainstream advances, with accessibility being a central theme, and not an afterthought.

See also:
A gamer asks for subtitles
Odeo on eBay?

May 11, 2007

Firefox extension to work with third party subtitling sites?

This is an e mail I've just sent to Access Firefox, and copying this into relevant parties, in respect of the need for a plugin plus an open source standard in respect of subtitling by third party sites, and the need to communicate with its end users over subtitling provision. I am hoping that this will generate some action:

Hi Ken

I got your e mail address from Deaf UK Technology, as an e mail of yours was sent there a couple of months ago. You introduced yourself from Access Firefox and were interested in what Firefox extensions Deaf people wanted.

At the time I said on the group plus blogged about this here, that I was interested in a notification to let me know if sound was
being played, and to have the choice of turning this off, or receiving a notification (if I wanted it) that sound was being played.

Since then, there has been some developments in respect of subtitling online, by third party sites. Instead of repeating myself here, I blogged about this. Would you mind taking some time to read this?

This issue is not going to go away, and I see it as becoming more of an issue.

Since one firm cannot subtitle everything on the web (unless your name is something like Google), I can see this becoming a multi company market. e.g. Legislation in the UK for example may push up demand anyway, and with it could be some outsourcing. (I am not suggesting that subtitles away from the main site is the best idea, however, I can see it being one example of a solution).

So how do Deaf people keep up? Expect us to visit each and every site to check if something has been subtitled or not?

To this end, I believe that a Firefox plugin can assist here, not only from the Deaf person's perspective, but the company's too in that it continually reminds users they are there (bit like RSS in this respect). Hopefully, if such a plugin is developed, to include a bundle, where Project ReadOn, dotSUB, any other players are included as a default. Other providers to be added if they enter the market.

I appreciate this would mean some open source standard / API by subtitling sites, in order for these sites to talk to a subtitling version of BlogRovr. I wonder if some partnership could be worked on?

Please forgive me for being forward here, but I would really love to see this addressed. I've copied this into dotSUB and Project ReadOn plus the Open and Closed Project, for their information. I've also copied this into a couple of Deaf people too, as they may be able to offer a perspective.

Unfortunately, I don't have an e mail address for BlogRovr, however there is a contact page on their website if this is a way to go. Just to let you know, I'm also going to blog this, as its something I would like to actively encourage discussion.

Many thanks, Alison

If you have an interest in this field, or something to offer please use the comment box or blog about this and link back. We really need some discussion around this, and for Deaf people to lead the way in what they want.

See also:
Evelyn Glennie at TED, and solving subtitling notification online

Deaf people & Firefox Extensions
Online subtitling & getting Geeks to notice the need for diversity
A Gamer asks for subtitles
BBC & accessible online content
IBM addresses multimedia access for blind. Deaf access where?
Vlogging grows, where's the subtitles?

May 8, 2007

Evelyn Glennie at TED, and solving subtitling notification online

Last week I came across this TED video of Evelyn Glennie: How to listen to music with your whole body.

In this soaring demonstration, deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie leads the audience through an exploration of music not as notes on a page, but as an expression of the human experience. Playing with sensitivity and nuance informed by a soul-deep understanding of and connection to music, she talks about a music that is more than sound waves perceived by the human ear. She illustrates a richer picture that begins with listening to yourself, and includes emotion and intent as well as the complex role of physical spaces -- instrument, concert hall and even the bones and body cavities of musician and listener alike.

Except on the website, there's no subtitles.

My first reaction: p*ssed off, etc. Secondly, the website has enough sponsors on there, to easily get funding for subtitling. TED can afford it.

Moving on. All this caused me to wonder, has this been subtitled already? Perhaps at Project ReadOn or dotSUB. Since I can't find it, I assume not, but I can't be sure. Have I searched properly?

How do I know if this video hasn't been subtitled elsewhere? Am I expected to go to each individual site and check? Do an extensive online search? Even if I had video notification via RSS from these sites, who said I could remember everything that appears? I'm not going to. Hopefully, such services are likely to grow in future and a solution needs to be thought of now.

I would like a Firefox extension developed, that works pretty much like BlogRovr but for subtitling. When I go to a site with video, I would like a pop up box to appear to let me know where a video has been subtitled. Just as when you install BlogRovr, it suggests sites that provide subtitling services (to be monitored). In addition, if and when new companies come onto the market, you can add these / configure your extenstion. Call it SubRovr or something? This of course would require some kind of open standard API or blog on the part of existing service providers so they can communicate with the Firefox extension.

Could Access Firefox, Open & Closed Project, subtitling providers and Deaf geeks and anyone else who's interested actually work together to make this happen?

See also:
Deaf people & Firefox Extensions
Online subtitling & getting Geeks to notice the need for diversity
A Gamer asks for subtitles
BBC & accessible online content
IBM addresses multimedia access for blind. Deaf access where?
Vlogging grows, where's the subtitles?

May 2, 2007

Online subtitling & getting Geeks to notice the need for diversity

ustreamtv.jpgA few weeks back, Chris Pirillo was communicating to an audience via Chris was talking via a box, and anyone who had stumbled on the page could participate in a text chat underneath.

Except I couldn't understand what Chris was saying, yet got the one sided conversation via the text chat. Apart from the fact I could see the implications for interactive television specifically sign languages, and bilingual communication here, I became frustrated. All I could see was online space that made my world more accessible 10 years ago, was about to go full circle. The inaccess gap was becoming wider again. Incidentally, I experienced the same thing watching Scoble casting from his car the following day, except it was a bit more visual so slightly easier to put up with.

Back to Chris' chat. I entered calling myself DEAF, just so geeks would immediately get it. I said that I couldn't understand a word, great idea but where's the subtitles? Robert Scoble answered saying something along the lines of it was too expensive.

readon.gifSince Mateo Gutierrez had recently contacted me to let me know about Project Read On (which I meant to review, but life got in the way - its since been reviewed elsewhere, will possibly come back to this). I gave Scoble this link, just to let him there was possibilities or solutions out there. Robert replied that he was happy for his videos to be hosted anywhere, so they could be subtitled.

Bottom line: I've always wanted to access the ScobleShow. Incidentally, I'd flagged this up with Robert before via his blog, and he had responded regarding the need to budget for this.

dotsub.pngSince mentioning Project Read On, I've become aware of dotSUB acts like a Wikipedia when it comes to subtitling something. Anyone can volunteer to subtitle stuff, and text can be modified, added to etc.

I would really recommend you watch this video, produced by Rocketboom:

Rocketbottom and DotSub via CommonCraft

This is a great move forward, but I've got some random thoughts:

- I want the Scoble Show on there, and Robert please tell the world about it, there is a need for volunteers and access matters;
- Same goes for ZeFrank, I want to be able to access him too;
- The tech world needs to take this seriously, Anil Dash published The Old Boys Club is for Losers a few months back, its a compelling post (check out the links too), be more inclusive and come up with solutions;
- Going back to subtitles / captions. There should be a link under vlogs to say they are subtitled at a certain place, a bit like an 888 logo in the UK or CC symbol in the States. Don't rely on chance encounters of people finding the accessible version;
- There needs to be some decent discussion around access, with the view of access online in the future. It would be cool if self regulation could come out of this, but has experience taught us that relying on goodwill is not enough? I get the self governance of cyberspace, just media content will increase through these streams in future. How are we going to interact?

So many thoughts ...

See also:
A Gamer asks for subtitles
BBC & accessible online content
IBM addresses multimedia access for blind. Deaf access where?
Vlogging grows, where's the subtitles?

April 28, 2007

A Gamer asks for subtitles

Continuing the theme of accessibility, a Deaf Gamer asks for subtitles:

Dear Sir or Ma'aam,

I am a deaf 20 year old that loves to play videogames. I've been playing videogames ever since I first played the Atari 2600 with my father as a young child. Back then, games were not as complex as they are today. Sometimes, as a deaf gamer, I struggle with many mission based games such as Quake 4, Star Wars: Rouge Squadron Rouge Leader, Perfect Dark 0, Need for Speed: Carbon, X2: Wolverine's Revenge and many others. The reason for the frustration is for the lack of subtitles in the above mentioned titles. Quake 4 is a perfect example of my frustrations of what I am supposed to do next because the mission objectives and ways to beat certain bosses were given over the intercom and it was mostly garbled. Perfect Dark 0 was frustrating for me because I had no idea what was going on with the story. At one point I was fighting in buildings shooting at mobsters and all of a sudden I'm fighting a midget skinless Chinese dude with a sword in some alternate dimension. That did not make sense for me at all because... who was that Chinese dude?

I may be deaf but I do have most of my hearing left over. I depend mostly on my eyesight to give me information while playing games. Mostly, depending on eyesights make my job for completing games a much more daunting task than they should be.

Another game I would like to bring up is Hideo Kojima's Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Both of these games rely on hearing much like in MGS2:SoL bomb searching which you use a device that beeps in a high tone if your near a bomb so you can disable them. I had a tough time searching for the bombs in the game since I cannot hear high pitch tones that well.

Maybe in the future, if you can start putting subtitles in the games, especially Halo 3 since I am a huge Halo addict. Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2 did not have subtitles though Halo 2 had subtitles but only in the cutscenes as 70% of the game did not.

I hope I can hear from you soon.


Via Yoav @ Deaf UK Technology

I've been thinking about this issue a lot recently, not gaming, but access online. I was going to add it here, but decided against it. Its too important an issue, and something that warrants a post by itself.

Update: This story also appears on Digg with supporting comments. I would recommend people join in, to push this issue into the mainstream, especially as the audience includes people who have some whack in the gaming world. Useful for future contacts? Via Tomato @ Deaf UK Technology.

See also:
BBC & accessible online content
IBM addresses multimedia access for blind. Deaf access where?
Vlogging grows, where's the subtitles?

April 10, 2007

BBC & accessible online content

bbclogo.gifLast year I issued a formal complaint and threatened legal action against the BBC as far as the lack of subtitling and BSL being produced online. For those of you who are interested, this is the latest state of play:

Subtitling Trial: subtitles are being trialled on multiple sites. Participating sites include: See Hear, Video Nation, Click and Panorama for subtitles in English and Capture Wales and Eorpa (Welsh or Gaelic).

Online BBC catch-up TV: is being launched this summer. BBC iPlayer, will also feature subtitles, in addition to BSL translated programmes broadcasted in the Sign Zone. This will launch with upwards of 25% of the supported programmes being available with subtitles, but the service will quickly ramp-up to enable for us to confidently support the 100% commitment to programme subtitling in 2008/09.

Signs of Life: an online project that will also feature subtitles for the first time on an online interactive drama built in Flash.

BBC Standards and Production Guidelines: this is being written for producing subtitles for all our future online Flash Video/Animation, Real and Windows Media content. This will be published in early Summer 07, and will appear on the Standards and Guidelines page.

My comments: It is good that progress is being made, but I have to wonder if this is happening too slowly, with not enough publicity? As a public service, the organisation has an obligation to make its content accessible, and for me this has not happened fast enough.

Accessibility needs to be addressed from the outset, not a mere afterthought and should be appearing from the word go for multimedia content. Whilst the BBC's objective might be to provide "quality, consistency, reliability, and scale ability", frankly *any access* is better than nothing. Yes I want quality, I appreciate the BBC needs resources to provide access, but does it have to happen so slowly? The BBC does not have a problem with provision of this through delivery of other content. For example, the BBC might not feel the use of Real Player ideal (it is developing iPlayer), but it does not stop them producing multimedia in this format.

Whilst the BBC is making progress here, one immediately has to think about other broadcast companies, such as ITV and Channel 4. As private companies their obligations may be different from a public funded organisation, however the DDA still applies. What if I wanted to access 4OD?

What are you doing in your country to promote online accessibility? What relevant laws apply?

March 31, 2007

IBM addresses multimedia access for blind. Deaf access where?

IBM has developed a browser to make multimedia content such as video, accessible for blind people.

The browser also allows video to be slowed down, speeded up and can accommodate an additional audio description or narration track that is often included to make films and television programmes more comprehensible to blind people.

The volume controls also allow the user to adjust the sound of various sources independently - for example the main audio track, an audio description track and output from a screen reader.

Whilst this is encouraging, and kudos to IBM here, it also assumes the person can hear too. What about deafblind people's access?

IBM goes onto state that:

"We're beginning to look at accessibility as a very important business area," said Frances West, director of IBM's Human Ability and Accessibility Centre.

"This is not just from a social responsibility standpoint, but with ageing baby-boomers we think that such technology could really benefit the population in general because all of us will be on this ageing journey."

This is encouraging, and addresses a bit of my concern yesterday, re lack of access to multi media content. Like every person out there, I would like to see audio access addressed already. Where are the subtitles, the voice recognition to translate videos into subtitles? I wish IBM and other companies would move quicker on this. However, technology solutions alone cannot address access, and it needs to come from people's attitudes too.

It seems that the project is open source, which will allow other developers to chip in with content. Something developers in the deaf community could learn about, and the downside of keeping source code closed - egos are not more important than getting better technology:

The company plans to "open source" its new accessibility software in order to make it available to the largest possible number of people.

March 30, 2007

Vlogging grows, where's the subtitles?

vlogs.jpgValleywag picks up on some statistics from Meefeedia, on the growth of vlogs. Deaf vlogs are a bit behind this, and I give a history in this post.

With the growth of vlogging, I have one question: where is the subtitles and solutions to address this? Deaf access where? How do you balance this with individual expression?

When is policy and legislation going to be reviewed to address online space? As I said in this entry over on Grumpy Old Deafies, we have to redefine what we mean by broadcasting. A subtitling petition that addresses television is far too narrow in scope, and needs to be opened out. What is the Deaf Broadcasting Council, TAG, NAD's Technology Committee doing to address this? Committees: all get yourself a blog and communicate with us. Sheila? Ruth? Penny? David? And others, please say something.

What can we do as ordinary individuals to address this? I'm wondering if online space is similar to what we experience in physical space. Deaf individuals will frequently interact with hearing people: when they go to the supermarket, the bank, at a party, at some club. All these instances are individuals communicating, and we won't necessarily be able to access what comes out of their mouth. Unless of course they are bilingual. As online space develops, online space is just an extension of someone in meatspace, and we shouldn't expect access to individuals. Organisations on the other hand are different as they would be in the physical world, however, the BBC has still not addressed a permanent subtitling solution.

There's a conference in Banff (Canada) in just 6 weeks time which addresses standards. However, I don't see anything on multimedia content access there? Who's going and who will get our point across? With an increasing output on the web focused on audio, one has to ask the question: who's addressing the access? Someone please correct me!

We so badly need policy in this area. Before this can happen, there has to be a commitment and Deaf involvement to make this happen.

January 16, 2007

Joost: where's the subtitles / captions?

The Skype founders have used some of their $2.6 billion raised from selling the product to eBay to create a new interactive online television called Joost (formely called the Venice Project).

The product has been in private alpha beta since last October, with a larger beta in existence since last December.

If Skype is anything to go by, this software has the potential to be huge, and possibly influencing access to television as we know it, including long tail output. Deaf people will immediately have questions around subtitling, and how to ensure this happens. Its unlikely that the founders have already spend some of their $2.6 billion on subtitling output, therefore there's an urgent need to look at subtitling / captioning laws in respective countries, to place obligations on such providers.

It appears that Joost is registered in the USA, which immediately raises questions does existing US legislation cover accessibility and online media output?

November 28, 2006

Deaf manufacturing through Crowd Spirit?

Crowd Spirit is a Scottish-French start up, which helps consumers address products that they would really like to see manufactured. You can submit ideas, through collaboration turn this idea into a project, with definite specifications. The end result to encourage people to invest money, make the product happen, with the view of being able to purchase this.

Deaf people often complain that products, especially mainstream ones, are inaccessible to them. Companies don't listen to suggestions, or in fact we've given up of anything ever happening. Could a collaboration such as Crowd Spirit address this imbalance, and through collaboration, we are empowered to get what we need in terms of accessible products taken by the mainstream more seriously, and investment poured into this? Could this an excuse to move away from deaf organisations, and a community drive, with communication straight with investors and manufacturers?

What product would you like (re)designed, that is accessible?

January 5, 2006

Accessing the ambulance service

Nee Naw has a post about a call from a Deaf person calling the ambulance service. Worth a read to get an operator's experience.