Web Accessibility in Higher Education

I had an amazing time being on Seth Odell’s Higher Ed Live weekly web show. I was asked to talk about higher education and web accessibility. We just barely scratched the surface of what it means to have an accessible web. However, I think that this was a great conversation starter and I look forward to coming on the show to talk about accessibility in 2011.

The back channel conversation provided a lot of questions and insight. It was great to see so many higher education professionals engaging in a conversation on web accessibility and higher education.

Seth and I put together a terrific list of accessibility resources for folks to peruse over at his website. Like I said last night: We all go together or we don’t go at all. Accessibility is an ethical mandate. Accessibility might not be the sexy topic du jour (eg: social media), but it is necessary.

Google adds auto-captioning to YouTube

Google does not always create accessible products (GoogleWave). However, sometimes they do a good job of increasing the accessibility of an existing service. I hope that Vimeo gets the message that accessibility is important.

In the first major step toward making millions of videos on YouTube accessible to deaf and hearing-impaired people, Google unveiled new technologies that will automatically bring text captions to many videos on the site.

[Google] combined their automatic speech recognition (ASR) technology with the YouTube caption system to offer automatic captions, or auto-caps for short. Auto-caps use the same voice recognition algorithms in Google Voice to automatically generate captions for video.

Vimeo and closed captioning

Vimeo is not accessible for users with hearing impairments

Yesterday’s post on Vimeo, YouTube, accessibility and closed captioning was read, and commented on, by Blake Whitman, Director of Community at Vimeo. Please note that I do not have any ill will towards Vimeo. They make neat things. I just wish that they made them accessible…which really means that their “things” aren’t as neat as they could be.

According to Blake:

I thought I would respond here as I believe there may be a misunderstanding regarding our intentions. We care a great deal about closed captioning and we fully intend to provide such support as soon as we can assign developers to the project. While YouTube has large staff and ample resources, we are a small and dedicated team that works tirelessly to meet all of our users’ needs. We did not mean to offend you or anyone else who would like to see CC support on Vimeo, and we will develop a closed captioning system as soon as we are able to. We apologize for the wait.

Blake was responding to my comment on the lack of captioning technology for Vimeo videos. My comment was driven by a comment that Blake left on the Vimeo forums:

[Captioning] is a very big project and not something that can just happen overnight. We have a lot of higher priority features in the cue right now, and when we find the appropriate time, we will definitely look into offering CC support.

My question to Blake and the folks at Vimeo is how can you “care a great deal about closed captioning” while not actually actively supporting its development?

Continue reading Vimeo and closed captioning

Adding captions to YouTube videos

I used to be a huge fan of Vimeo. Their user interface and HD video capability is top notch. Unfortunately, Vimeo has decided that accessibility is not a priority. 8 days ago on the Vimeo forums, the topic of accessibility via closed captions / subtitles was added to the Vimeo Community Forums – Feature Request section. Vimeo’s response to this request was extremely saddening:

We have a lot of higher priority features in the cue right now, and when we find the appropriate time, we will definitely look into offer CC support.

Vimeo is telling its community that users with hearing impairments do not matter.

Thankfully, YouTube has now made it very easy to add captions to videos. In fact, YouTube allows for HD uploads, accessible videos and better uptime than Vimeo.

It’s really easy to add captions / subtitles to a YouTube video using dotSUB:

Continue reading Adding captions to YouTube videos