WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

E-mail List Archives

Re: AOL, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! Unite to Advance Online Media Captioning


From: Cynthia Waddell
Date: Oct 4, 2007 6:40PM

Dear Ms. Watkins:
As a person who relies on captioning, this is wonderful news indeed! It is
consistent with the current NCAM projects for accessible airplane movies and
its NPR partnership for captioned radio.

The captioning of web-based video has many challenges and this announcement
certainly gives those of us in the community of people with hearing
disabilities hope that accessibility will be resolved.

Best regards,
Cynthia Waddell

Cynthia D. Waddell, JD
Executive Director and
Law, Policy and Technology Consultant
International Center for Disability Resources
on the Internet (ICDRI)
Phone: (408) 691-6921

ICDRI is based in
Raleigh, North Carolina USA

See My New Book!
Web Accessibility: Web Standards and
Regulatory Compliance by Apress
at www.icdri.org/WSR_Book.htm
See also Constructing Accessible Web Sites

Is your Web Site Accessible?
Find out now with Cynthia Says! www.cynthiasays.com
Endorsed by the American Council of the Blind,
the CynthiaSaysTM portal is a joint Education
and Outreach project of ICDRI, The Internet
Society Disability and Special Needs Chapter,
and HiSoftware.

-----Original Message-----
From: Mary Watkins [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ]
Sent: Thursday, October 04, 2007 9:09 AM
Subject: [WebAIM] AOL, Google, Microsoft,Yahoo! Unite to Advance Online
Media Captioning

October 4, 2007

AOL, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! Unite to Advance Online Media Captioning

In an effort to overcome technology and production barriers, the leading
providers of Web-based video have joined with media access pioneer
WGBH/Boston to develop solutions that will increase the amount of online
video accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

AOL, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! have asked WGBH and its Carl and Ruth
Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) to establish and
manage the Internet Captioning Forum (ICF). The ICF will initially address
the technical challenges presented by online video repurposed from broadcast
or other previously captioned sources, as well as video created specifically
for the Web.

"More and more people are turning to the Internet to get their news, watch
programs and other video," says WGBH's Director of Media Access, Larry
Goldberg. "The scarcity of captions online is due to a variety of
challenges, including a proliferation of media and text formats and players,
editing of programs originally distributed with captions, and lack of clear
online caption production and delivery requirements. The founding members of
the ICF are all companies long dedicated to making their products and
services accessible to people with disabilities. They recognize that working
together on this challenge is the best, fastest and most practical way to
get more captioned video on the Web."

The collaboration is expected to yield a range of solutions and tools, among

. A database for online media distributors, populated by major captioning
providers, of previously captioned programs. This tool will facilitate the
location and reuse of existing caption files.

. Technical and standards documents, case studies and best practices for
accomplishing pervasive online video captioning.

. Demonstrations of innovative practices to preserve captions while editing
and digitizing captioned videos.

In addition to the global audience of people who are deaf or hard of
hearing, beneficiaries of the ICF's initiative also include people who rely
on translation engines to convert caption text into other languages, people
using online video in noisy situations or at work, and search engines that
use caption text to search and retrieve online videos.

Cheryl Heppner, executive director of the Northern Virginia Resource Center
for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons says, "The formation of the Internet
Captioning Forum will become a milestone in the history of access to media.
The community of people who are deaf or hard of hearing has worked for
decades to achieve the access to television captioning we have now. The
partnership of AOL, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! with WGBH promises to be a
major step forward for accessible online video."

ICF partners share their thoughts on the collaboration:

"For several years now AOL has been working to tackle the range of
challenges to facilitate timely delivery of captioned video content online:
from the production and need for automated publishing of caption data to
support for the display of captions in AOL's web-based media player. Our
efforts have demonstrated that collaboration between content producers and
content distributors is the best way forward to achieve wide scale
availability of captioned video on the web. It is our hope that the Internet
Caption Forum will provide the venue for producers and distributors to come
together to define the model for production and delivery of captions on the
- Tom Wlodkowski, Director of Accessibility, AOL

"The Internet has been one of the most democratizing forces in the
communications universe but it needs to accommodate the needs of all its
users, including those who have need of features such as captions for audio
and adaptable visual presentations. The Forum is one way in which
information service providers can work together to establish reliable
practices to improve access to Internet-based information."
- Vint Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist, Google

"As a leader in the online media space, we recognize our responsibility to
raise the level of service we supply so that it is accessible to everyone.
Microsoft is pleased to join with our industry colleagues and WGBH to create
solutions that will enable the industry to effectively deliver online
captioned media."
- Rob Sinclair, Director, Microsoft Accessibility Business Unit

"Yahoo! applauds the collaborative effort led by WGBH to create a solution
for making online video content accessible to all. Because the need for
online captioning will continue to grow across the Web, Yahoo! is excited to
join with our colleagues to develop quality responses to this accessibility
challenge. "
- Victor Tsaran, Accessibility Program Manager, Yahoo!

The WGBH-Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media
(NCAM) is a research, development and advocacy entity that works to make
existing and emerging technologies accessible to all audiences. NCAM is part
of the Media Access Group at WGBH, which also includes The Caption Center
(est. 1972), and Descriptive Video ServiceR (est. 1990). For more
information, visit access.wgbh.org.

WGBH Boston is America's preeminent public broadcasting producer, the source
of fully one-third of PBS's prime-time lineup, along with some of public
television's best-known lifestyle shows and children's programs and many
public radio favorites. WGBH is also the leading producer of online content
for pbs.org, one of the most-visited dot-org sites on the Web. For more
information, visit www.wgbh.org.


WGBH: Mary Watkins, 617 300-3700, <EMAIL REMOVED>

AOL: Jaymelina Esmele, 703 265-7831, <EMAIL REMOVED>

Google: Gabriel Stricker, 650 930-3555, <EMAIL REMOVED> ,

Microsoft: Ellen Kampel, 425 706-3055, <EMAIL REMOVED>

Yahoo!: Julie Han, 408 349-7661, <EMAIL REMOVED>

- end -