Archive for the ‘government’ Category

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!

Halliburton 2.0?

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009 by Evangelist

To the satisfaction of many who wondered, the revolution inauguration was indeed televised captioned.

Many accolades follow, and rightly so. The NAD gave a nod. Various other captioning advocates (such as slinkerwink over at DailyKos, etc) thank the captioning team that apparently, as Washington Post reports, worked against all odds:

One member of the White House new-media team came to work on Tuesday, right after the swearing-in ceremony, only to discover that it was impossible to know which programs could be updated, or even which computers could be used for which purposes. The team members, accustomed to working on Macintoshes, found computers outfitted with six-year-old versions of Microsoft software. Laptops were scarce, assigned to only a few people in the West Wing. The team was left struggling to put closed captions on online videos.

Even conservatives over at RedState commend the Obama team in this regard.

But I am going to put a damper into this celebration. Notice that YouTube seems to have emerged as a de facto provider of important communication infrastructure to the government. Which would be perfectly fine, except that it appears that YouTube got a special dispensation from the federal privacy rules.

Are we witnessing a phenomenon that is the reverse of trademark genericide? One may use “to xerox” to mean “to copy”, or “kleenex” to mean “a tissue”. We are all familiar with that. But in today’s age, it seems that whenever “online video” is mentioned, “YouTube” is understood. While this is a great compliment to YouTube, is it good when the government does it?

How does this sit with the many Obama supporters that are proponents of Net Neutrality?

P.S. In a somewhat ironic (albeit unclear in what way exactly) twist on the subject of YouTube and accessibility to the Deaf community, YouTube now mutes some videos. I just thought I’d add that in there.

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!

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: