Saturday, February 26, 2011

Captioning On Youtube

There are some very friendly and extremely simple features on Youtube that let you add captions to your videos for your audience that may have speech impairment.

If you are the owner of a video, Youtube lets you do two things with respect to captioning.

Automatic Captioning: Basically, you don't have to do anything to add captions to your videos. Under "CC" (at the bottom of the player), you will find an option called "Transcribe Audio". If clicked, Youtube  automatically uses its speech to text algorithm and starts showing captions at the bottom of the screen. This is the same algorithm that is used by Google Voice. The captioning is pretty decent, but not accurate. Still, it does a fantastic job of creating automatic captions from just the audio speech available in the video. 

Note: As of now, only "participating channels" have access to this feature, but hopefully it will be released to all uploaders soon. To check if this feature is available to you, go to your uploaded videos, and under one of your videos click "Insights", and choose "Captions and Subtitles". If you see "English: Machine Transcription" under "Available Caption Tracks" then Automatic Captioning would work on your video.

Another note: It seems like Automatic Captioning works really well on videos with clear audio.

Check out this video. The audio in this video is very crisp and clear, and the people in this video are speaking at what seems to be the average rate of speech.

Here's another video that I made around an year ago with a friend. My friend's rate of speech is average too, but the audio does not seem to be very crisp and clear (the audio was captured using just the phone mic). Needless to say, Automatic Captioning on this video is pretty much terrible.

Automatic Timing: If you want to use your own transcripts, Youtube allows you to add transcripts in a very simple text format, and automatically detects when the words are spoken. There is absolutely no need to add time codes (unlike the SubViewer transcript files that require time codes in front of every sentence in the file, making the entire process very cumbersome). The transcript file would be a simple text file that has all the dialogs from the video.

This feature is available to all video uploaders.

Please watch this video to learn more about Automatic Captioning and Automatic Timing:

Hit the source link to read more about Automatic Captioning and Timing on Youtube.

Source: The Official Google Blog

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Accessibility Video Tutorials For Websites

Think Vitamin Membership recently made all its accessibility tutorial videos free. Think Vitamin is a website for web developers, and has many video tutorials on the latest technology that web designers and developers need to know in order to design websites. The videos are available in different resolutions (including HD), and their tutorials are very easy to understand.

There is actually a membership cost to access their videos, but recently they made their accessibility tutorial videos available to everyone for free. The tutorial consists of  21 very easy to understand lessons. It starts with the fundamentals - some basic things to keep in mind while designing pages for people with not just low/no vision and hearing impairment, but also for those who have impaired mobility (e.g., make pages keyboard accessible). The videos are around 5 - 7 minutes long.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

ASL videos from IRS With Captioning

The IRS has a number of videos on Youtube that are very informative and beneficial for people who have low/ no vision, or hearing impairment. The videos feature IRS employees who are using ASL to provide information on tax filing, software for filing taxes, and other useful tips for tax payers, business owners, and leaders of non exempt organizations. All these videos have captions in English as well.

One very important piece of information they provide through one of these videos is that taxpayers can do their federal tax returns for free using tax software provided by companies in the Free File Alliance. Taxpayers in AL, AZ, AR, GA, ID, IA, KY, MI, MN, MO, MS, NY, ND, NC, OK, OR, RI, SC, VT, VA, WV can file their state tax returns for free as well. (Source).

If taxpayers do not have access to a computer, they can call 1- 800-829-1040 through relay service to get assistance with tax filing. For face to face assistance, taxpayers can contact their local IRS office (more info here).

Here is a video with some tips on what taxpayers should do if they do not receive their W2.

Here's another video that has information on IRS's iPhone and Android app (IRS2Go) to check refund status, and get other useful tax information.

To see all the IRS ASL videos with captions, please go to their Youtube channel here.

Source (@mpaciello)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Adobe Flash CS4 Accessibility

There is a great (short) animated video on Adobe's website that provides some quick tips on how to make Flash videos accessible. This video consists of 5 "slides", and each slide discusses various accessibility features that can be added for different types of users. The main points this video touches are:

For blind users:

-  Setting reading order.
- Audio description (as audio or transcripts).
- Screen magnifier for users with low vision.

Keyboard access:

- Setting the tab index (same as reading order; cannot tab to text field).
- Setting programmed shortcuts.

For deaf users:

- Adding captions.
- Adding video of an ASL interpreter for younger children.

Extra resources

- Link to Adobe Accessible Resource Center.
- Link to Adobe Flash Accessibility Design Guidelines.

Click  the "D))" button at the bottom right corner to see how they use audio descriptions in this video.

Here is the video.

Haptica Braille Watch - Make It Happen!

Here is a cool concept watch for blind (and visually impaired) people who aren't very happy with the way they currently have to check time. Blind people use either analog watches with static bumps or digital watches with audible voice to check time, but they come with some limitations:
1. Analog watch with static bumps: The watch wearer has to lift the case open and feel the static bumps and the position of the pinions (something like this) to know the time.This can be time consuming and often not  accurate.

2. Digital watch with audible voice: On pressing a button, the watch speaks out the current time. Although accurate, it is pretty much useless in situations where silence is required (a seminar, or a boring meeting!).

Haptica, on the other hand, has rotating dots that show four digits in Braille (0 - 9). One can easily feel the digits on Haptica and know what the time is without getting noticed. It's as simple as that! 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Talking Compass - Android App For People With No or Low Vision [Video]

I found this great app on the Android Marketplace called Talking Compass that helps people with low or no vision with directions. It is a simple compass app that speaks the direction the user is facing every two seconds. The latest app also speaks degrees along with the direction. This app is available for free on the Android Marketplace.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Readability Made Easy In Firefox

Readability for people with low vision can be drastically improved by installing the Readability add on for Firefox. The Readability add on does two things. First, it gets rid of all the design elements present on the page that may be distracting. Second, it puts all the text in a single column, and gives quite many options that make the text very easy to read.