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Archive for June, 2012

Recently I came across a post on a Pagan blog that included two short videos.

Unfortunately, neither of these videos was captioned.

Photograph showing a close-up of a television, with a television program running.

The program is captioned, and you can see the words of the captioning running across the television screen

I left a comment mentioning this fact, and the blogger responded with saying that her time is rather limited, and thus it was difficult for her to get transcriptions made of these videos that can either be posted, or uploaded to YouTube to allow for the captions to appear on the video.

So I am putting up this post here for members of the Pagan Community to read…

Please…if you happen to be reading a post on a Pagan website and notice that a video is not captioned, consider leaving a comment and offering to transcribe it for deaf and hard of hearing viewers.

Remember, many of these people who put up posts on various Pagan sites are volunteers – they don’t get paid for doing such, or if they do, such pay tends to be minimal and may barely cover their expenses. They usually don’t have the funds to pay someone to provide transcription services.

This is where the Pagan Community needs to come together and help one another.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a strong advocate for Equal Communication Access. That access includes captioning on-line videos. As we move further and further into the technical age, we are seeing more and more information being made available on-line…and often thru the use of videos. However, it seems the more and more we do so, the further and further the Deaf Community gets left behind.

This issue was beautifully expressed by Adam in his video for the #captionTHIS movement, and reinforced by Natalie and Megan in another video made for the movement…as well as several other videos created by members of the Deaf Community. I joined with them in advocating for more on-line video captioning last June 6th, and I will continue to do so. The #captionTHIS movement isn’t over…indeed, it is just beginning.

But we can’t just give lip service to the concept of accessibility…we need to do our part. We need to help out these bloggers, videocasters, etc. in assisting them in making these videos accessible by offering to help out with transcriptions. This involves listening to a video and typing up a transcript of what is said. It’s not that hard. Time-consuming, maybe…but not difficult.

Some of you might be thinking…

But Ocean, why should it be necessary to transcribe the video if it’s uploaded to YouTube? YouTube has its own captioning program!

Well…yes and no. True, YouTube has its own captioning program. However, I would like y’all to do me a favor. Go to YouTube and find a video that has been “captioned.” You will know this if you see a “cc” in a box at the bottom of the video next to the YouTube logo. Click on that and turn on the captions, then sit and watch them.

The closed captioning logo.

It consists of the letters “cc” inside a box.

If you are like me, you will probably end up frustrated with the poor quality of the captioning and wondering why it’s so full of errors.

The reason is this – the YouTube captioning program uses speech recognition software to “listen” to the soundtrack of the video and translate it into words which then appear on the screen. Unfortunately, the speech recognition software leaves a lot to be desired. Frankly…it sucks. As a Crossroads reader stated in a recent comment:

yes, YouTube’s audio transcription is terrible. Not only does it presuppose the presence of a voice, it presupposes a man’s voice of a particular, American accent. If you’re not a man, or from a particular part of America, or if you happen to use long words, it does a wonderful job… of giving your audience nonsense to read.

The harsh reality is this, folks…clicking on the “caption” option while uploading your video and then petting yourself on the back ain’t gonna cut it. You’re better off not clicking that option, cuz all you are going to do is frustrate viewers like myself, who end up pulling our hair out as we try to decipher the many errors.

However, YouTube does offer the option of uploading a transcript of your video. For more information on how to do this, check out this link:

http://support.google.com/youtube/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=100077

YouTube now has a function that will create the time codes for you by analyzing the audio of your uploaded video and matching it to your transcript. All that is required to do this is typing up a simple transcript, saving it as a plain text file and attaching it to your video on YouTube in your Video Manager.

Maybe you are thinking…

Yes, I would like to help…but I have never done this before. What do I need to know, or what do I need to do in order to make this happen?

No need to worry. If you are uploading a transcript to YouTube, it’s a pretty simple process and there is no special knowledge or skills needed. All that is required is a simple transcript. One thing that is helpful to know is that there is a difference between a transcript file and a caption file. The difference between a transcript file and a caption file is important – a caption file includes timecode information for each line of text so the caption lines up with the video, while a transcript file does not contain timestamps inside the file. Adding the timestamps can be tricky and may require plenty of revisions to get the timing right.

However, as I stated above…you DO NOT need to insert timecodes for YouTube videos – the program will automatically do this for you and insert the captions where appropriate, using the soundtrack to help it do so.

However, you may want to do a bit of “tweeking” to your transcript to make it a bit more “deaf-friendly” for captioning. YouTube offers some tips on how you can format your transcript file to achieve the best results. Check out such tips here:

http://support.google.com/youtube/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=166810

Inclusion has become a big buzzword in the Pagan Community lately, as a result of incidents that have occurred in the last year or two regarding the Transgendered Community. Interestingly, I happen to have a Deaf friend who is himself transgendered, and is Pagan-Friendly. However, I cannot refer the videos I have seen on this subject to him…because they are not captioned (Yet! As I understand it, efforts are currently underway to transcribe these videos and then upload them to create accurate captions.)

I’m happy to know that dialogue is taking place and efforts are being made for members of both communities to come together and address these issues.

But it cannot and should not stop there. We need to expand the concept of inclusion to any and all members of the Pagan Community…

including its deaf and hard of hearing members.

 So how about it, folks? Let’s all jump on the Equal Communication Access bandwagon and work together to help make Pagan videos accessible for any and all.

The next time you are watching a Pagan video, check to see if it is captioned. And if it isn’t, send a message to the appropriate person and offer to help with transcription. If it’s a lengthy video, consider assigning/accepting segments of it to different individuals. For example, if it’s an hour long video, ask four volunteers to each take a 15-minute segment and transcribe it. Work together to assure that the format is consistent amongst all the transcribers.

By the way, this doesn’t have to be limited merely to videos. Audio files can also be transcribed, and the transcript either posted on the site, made available for downloading, or at least a notice be put up that says “for deaf and hard of hearing audiences, a transcript is available upon request by emailing ______”  There have been a couple of Pagan Radio broadcasts that I have been curious about, but of course was not able to take advantage of, due to my own lack of hearing.

I believe in the Pagan Community, and I believe that most Pagans do want to do the right thing. It’s just a matter of education, and of understanding where the needs are and how to go about meeting them.

ASL sign for “HELP”

It is made by making a fist with one hand, and putting the palm of the other hand under it,

and moving both hands upwards, as if helping someone up. 

Please help.

It’s good karma.

PLEASE NOTE: To those who do not use YouTube, I am working on alternatives for you – I just need to touch bases with my tech geeks for more info – I am not a computer expert by any means. Once I have gathered some info, I will create a new post to respond to your needs. Those of you who do have info to share, I encourage you to post a comment below! In the meantime, two programs I am aware of that may work for you are Overstream.net and VideoCritter. For more information about VideoCritter, check out this blog post I did some time ago:

https://deafpagancrossroads.com/2011/05/29/another-video-captioning-option/ 

 

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