Deafness — our next big accessibility challenge?

  • By:
  • Tweet: @maxine
  • August 13, 2008
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Further to John’s post on Lisa’s article on A List Apart — Deafness and the User Experience — I just wanted to point out a little initiative we have started over the last couple of weeks here at Web Directions.

We’ve been publishing podcasts after our events for some years now, but it wasn’t until a deaf reader got in touch a few weeks back and enquired about the possibility of transcribing these audio recordings that I thought about how alienating presenting content in this way could really be. A classic instance of experiencing the world through your own prism I guess.

Anyway, I did a bit of hunting around and found an Australian company — Smart Docs — who were able to do transcriptions of 1 hour sessions for around $125. Which seemed pretty reasonable, though I guess it’s going to add up over two days and three tracks of content — any organisations out there keen to help us spread a bit of goodwill by becoming our “Transcription Sponsor”? :)

So we trialled Smart Docs with one of our most popular sessions from last year — Scott Berkun’s The Myths of Innovation. They got an accurate transcription back to me with a 24 hour turnaround, which I’ve since managed to get up at the site with the help of Joe Clark — thanks Joe! You can find the transcript here — new and improved print style sheet coming soon I promise!

With so much video and audio content coming online, as Lisa hints, deafness really is on the rise as the next big accessibility challenge for the web. How’s your organisation going to respond?

No responses to “Deafness — our next big accessibility challenge?”:

  1. That’s fantastic news, Maxine. Thank you!

    • By: Benson
    • August 13th, 2008

    Excellent stuff Maxine. In fact, I personally always prefer transcripts over podcasts, as it is more effective for me to read than listen. I hope WD08 will have this.

  2. […] full of great resources and examples, and I encourage everyone to check it out. You might also find Maxine Sherrin’s post of interest. Having just been interviewed via podcast, it certainly occurs to me that podcast […]

    • By: Sveta
    • October 21st, 2008

    Thanks, Maxine, for posting the great article. I’m glad that you started posting transcripts along with podcasts.

    Benson, thanks, for sharing your view as a hearing person about your preference for transcripts over podcasts. So it is not just us deaf and hard of hearing who benefit from transcripts. According to COAT Position Statement on video captioning (it applies to audio transcriptions as well):

    … Who will benefit [from captions]? Over 100 million Americans, including 28 million individuals with hearing loss, 30 million people for whom English is a second language, 27 million illiterate adults, 12 million children learning how to read and 4 million remedial readers. …”

    Not to mention millions more worldwide..

    Examples of those other people are my parents and foreign friends with perfect hearing who also find captioning for TV useful since English isn’t their first language. They also say it’s easier for them to read written English than to try to understand it in spoken format.

    Transcripts would greatly benefit website owners as well since they improve the site’s search ranking.

    I did my accessibility presentation at a recent conference covering all those issues.

    • By: Sveta
    • October 22nd, 2008

    Another thing to emphasize about important benefits of transcripts over podcasts. Transcripts are more flexible than podcasts in terms of handling the speed of receiving information:

    - It’s not possible to fast forward podcasts or slow down speech of someone who’s mumbling or speaking fast. If you want to listen to the full speech, you would have to listen for the exact amount of time the speaker was talking for. Also, you can’t see where in podcast you can listen the specific section of speech.

    - It’s easier to handle the pace of reading transcripts. Depending on your preference, you can read either fast or slow. You can easily find the sections of the text to reread without guessing where it is.

    - While text versions benefits those with hearing loss most, they are useful for anyone else.