Archive for the ‘accessibility’ Category

Accessibility pays

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009 by Evangelist

Accessibility pays. As the Design for Inclusion: Creating a New Marketplace report from National Council on Disability points out:

Consumers with disabilities find many E&IT products to be inaccessible. A sizeable un-tapped market for universal design products and services exists. However, few companies appreciate the size of the market or know how to tap its potential.


Designing with access in mind can significantly increase the size of targeted markets for electronic and information technology (E&IT). Good business practice dictates that designers and engineers avoid unintentionally excluding large populations of consumers from accessing and using the E&IT they develop and manufactur

Additionally, According to National Captioning Institute, “66% of viewers of captioned TV are more likely to buy a product that has a captioned commercial; 53% will actively seek out products advertised with captions; and 35% will switch to brands that use captioned ads.”

And not only does accessibility provide increased ROI, the I (investment) part can be minimal, leveraging . The great Jamie Berke writes about how tax credits can help businesses make themselves accessible to deaf and hard of hearing people.

And, finally, for those relying on video for marketing, consider that a “study even showed that the mere availability of subtitles could increase viewership by 40% and increase duration viewed by 38%” (h/t 3playmedia).

A recap

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009 by Evangelist

Many things I wanted to mention probably got lost. So I’d like to recap:

The good

The uncertain

The amusing

  • To our Russian-speaking readers, we’d like to point out a great blog run by an Overstream user and dedicated to translating comedy sketches from around the world:

Inaccessible Moscow

Monday, August 3rd, 2009 by Evangelist

As you know, we focus more on accessibility of online videos (while interpreting the concept of “accessibility” broadly — to overcome barriers posed by things other than technical “disabilities”, such as language barriers or literacy problems; but that’s a topic for another day…). But, of course, the very concept of accessibility in a more general sense is important to us.

So we are happy that we could use our site to bring those of you who share this interest several stories about accessibility (or, rather, sadly, lack thereof) elsewhere.

Today, we bring you a few stories from Russia (they are embedded below).

Moscow Wheelchair Action in the News I

Moscow Wheelchair Action in the News II

One of the featured participants (look for her at 01:31) is a noted journalist and activist Irina Yasina. If you can read Russian, do check out her take on this over at LiveJournal.


We’d like to credit LiveJournal users who brought this to our attention:

P.S. The title, unfortunately, is an untranslatable wordplay in Russian - “inaccessible” but also “impregnable” (as in, a fortress). So, if any of you professional translator folks out there with better sense of language than us, care to offer a better translation, please do!

Bits and pieces

Saturday, January 17th, 2009 by Evangelist

US Congress is getting its own YouTube channel. Dear Senators and Congressmen: please follow the laws you passed (does Section 508 ring a bell?), and make your videos accessible. We also agree with ReadWriteWeb’s criticism of top-down nature of this development:

[Q]uite a few Senators and Representatives decided not to allow comments on their videos. We would hope that more of our elected officials would value comments from their constituents.

But while the legislators may disable comments on YouTube, they won’t disable comments for videos embedded in the blogs — or on, for that matter. Which would make the YouTube channels mere video repositories, rather than portals; the discussion will happen elsewhere. Thwarting the authoritarian, centralized, top-down model like only the Internet can.

And now, moving from D.C. to the Holy See: His Holiness is coming to YouTube. Since the faithful are all over the globe, it’s encumbent upon this Vatican 2.0 (couldn’t resist) to be accessible in multiple languages. ChurchCrunch wonders if a digital version of the 95 Theses is to be expected. May we suggest to the next Martin Luther that they come in a form of an Overstream? We’d set up a special Schlosskirche page just for that.

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Gaurav makes a case that “the future of online video [journalism] will be driven by translation.” We are in vehement agreement. But may we suggest that providing context is another important facet of Journalism 2.0?
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In other news, we have added support for high-quality YouTube videos. Enjoy.

Yes? Oui? כן(Ken)?

Saturday, December 20th, 2008 by Evangelist

Sorry, couldn’t refrain myself from the trilingual pun I thought about while awaiting maintenance to be completed — but hey, multilingual (how does one make a noun out of it? I guess I have to ask Language Log folks) is what we’re all about, n’est pas?

I came up with that title while meditating on Bill’s comment about a hiatus in captioning of videos from So I decided to lend some efforts to help our champions of accessibility (grwebguy captioned last week’s installment, damiano — this week’s Discorso di Sabato 22/11, cool!) Since it was kind of late after the maintenance, I just got one in, the latest weekly address, below.

Ah, science and technology, warms the cockles of my heart. Yours too, or you wouldn’t be reading blogs.

Speaking of which:

  • Raise your hand if you thought “Al Gore” when Obama referenced to “inventing the Internet”.
  • Raise the other hand when you realized that he actually was talking about Gore when he segued to the leadership part of it.
  • Raise the third hand when he got to the “even when it’s inconvenient” part.

P.S. Speaking of the pun in the title. Notice that Hebrew word that’s part of the pun? Well, internationalization is tricky stuff, and RTL is doubly so — but Overstream supports RTL languages like Arabic and Hebrew fine.

P.P.S. Speaking of that pun again… As I was revising this post, I found out that I can’t claim the credit — Shahar Golan holds first dibs on it. Nice one, Shahar!

Oops, they didn’t — again

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008 by Evangelist

Obama’s weekly address was put up last night, and, as of this morning, of course, no captions — or even a transcript.

So I got to work… By the time I finished captioning it, however, the transcript was put up, depriving me of one reason for criticism… But still, it took about 12 hours for the transcript to appear, and I was done with captioning in about 30 minutes.

Here it is:

Making online videos accessible

Thursday, November 20th, 2008 by Evangelist

Online video is popular — well, duh. But what’s equally true is that it’s no longer just about fun but silly viral videos. When a US President-elect chooses to use it to reach his constituency, when important news organizations deliver news this way, it is a critical part of the technological infrastructure, to rival and surpass “traditional media”.

This too, is a truism, of course.

But somehow it does not yet seem obvious to governments and important organizations that the messaging this medium provides has to be accessible to everyone.

Sure, de jure, at least the governments are requiring such accessibility. There is Section 508 of Rehabilitation Act, ADA, and others in the US; Disability Discrimination Act in the UK, etc.

But de facto it is far, far from being the case even for the organizations that such laws mostly apply to. BBC, a public service corporation, laments the lack of “technology to provide subtitles on online videos”. A US .gov site publishes YouTube videos without captions while reiterating commitments to accessibility.

As to private sector, well, as Megan Taylor quips, its “self-regulation [...] looks like [that of] Wall Street”.

It seems that Joe Clark has a point in calling for standards, and, in some cases, regulation.

But that can’t be done but for the great efforts and activism of people and organizations like Bill Creswell, Ian Jolly, Reunify Gally, We Can Do, and countless others who raise this issue time and again.

We’ll get there.

But we’d get there a lot faster if one more person was in the above list. A very influential one.

Hey, 2006 Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, I am talking to you.

The accessible YouTube presidency

Sunday, November 16th, 2008 by Evangelist

Washington Post calls Obama’s “The YouTube presidency“.

Unfortunately, it is lacking English captions — to make it accessible to deaf/hard-of-hearing communities, and captions in other languages — to make it accessible to both non-English speaking US constituency and to a world-wide audience.

Yes, transcripts are provided, which follows their commitment to accessibility. But reading the transcript is not as effective as watching a video.

Thanks to Bill Creswell for quickly captioning it. I suppose this is the true Web 2.0 way — users are generating content and filling in the missing pieces. But cool as it may be, when the content provider is the government, it would do well to provide accessible versions itself.

Here is the captioned version: