Update on Video Captioning (WAWG)

The campus Web Accessibility Working Group (also known as WAWG) meets on a monthly basis to either have conversations about questions of interest or have local or invited speakers presenting to build skills with web accessibility in our local community. This is one of my absolutely MUST ATTEND meetings every month. Last month the topic was video captioning. I took notes, and then Scott Williams made something coherent out of them and gave me permission to share them here.

Scott is the University of Michigan Web Accessibility and Adaptive Technology Coordinator, and if you are at UM you should know him. If you are doing web design or development, you need to talk to him about standards, guidelines, implementation, tools, challenges, solutions, all that. If you are a faculty member using the web to teach or support teaching, you need to know how to make your content accessible for students with special needs. If you are a student, you need to know that Scott is a go-to person when things are not accessible. Now, I don’t mean “busted” as in a dead link, or poor design — definitely go to the local web master first for anything like this! Go to Scott when something on the site is usable by one group of people but not by another group. It is also great for students to know what they can and can’t ask for as accommodations, but that is handled by the Office of Services for Students With Disabilities (SSWD) . Scott, however, is a great resource for working with web masters to help them understand how to make content on their web site more accessible to students, so he is your friend in that respect. Not to mention that Scott is just plain good folks, a down home guy with a heart as big as all outdoors, and accessible in mind and spirit as well as it being his job.

So that is the introductions. You know me already. 😉 Here are the notes from the WAWG meeting on captioning.

Blind stenographer using dictaphone (LOC)

WAWG = Web Accessibility Working Group


February is captioning month. If you are publishing videos for internal or external audiences, they need to have captions and transcripts in order to comply with WCAG 2.0 requirements. The ETA for the explicit ADA requirements for higher ed is probably some time in 2012, so now is a good time to start thinking about how you will incorporate captions for your videos. With the exception of heavily used archived videos, you will want to concentrate on current and future video and audio production.

More information on captioning can be found on the University’s Web Accessibility site:

The take home message from the meeting is that captioning is mostly a matter of adjusting the video production process, it has not placed an onerous burden on those units that have started captioning. There are a variety of services and tools that are being used on campus. Each unit has fashioned a protocol that works for them. Captioning is easily accomplished by web production units; however, faculty-produced videos remain a future challenge for the U.


John Lofy , News Service – MICHIGAN TODAY

MT utilizes a captioning service:
http://vSync.tunezee.com – Vsync is a free captioning service of good quality.
– limit of video length is 10 min.
– good customer service
– upload transcript + video and Vsync provides a caption file with a wide variety of formatting options, .xml for Flash, .sbv for YouTube, etc.
– results returned in minutes

John types his own transcripts with very simple formatting: line breaks at natural pauses. (This is for the convenience of the author/maintainer and not necessary for the syncing of the caption, which is just space delimited. Still, very useful.) It takes about a half-hour to caption a 3-minute video — this is a standard ratio for the industry.

Not only is it important to provide captions and transcripts, but you also need to provide a keyboard-accessible player.

Ohio State Flash player:

JW player:
– Flash: http://www.longtailvideo.com/players/jw-flv-player/
– HTML5: http://www.longtailvideo.com/support/jw-player/jw-player-for-html5

Upload video + transcript + XML file onto public server. Player default setup can easily be customized by web production folks. Trickier for non-programmers.

Time added to production process? 1 hour. Can post caption within 2 days, even if released rush.

Mandira Banerjee, UM News Service

UM News Service: http://www.youtube.com/umnewsservice
Example discussed:
Colossal fossil: U-M museum’s new whale exhibit: http://www.youtube.com/umnewsservice#p/u/5/-TGXd64p0QM

NS uses Tech-Synergy for-fee service. Quick and reliable. Do transcripts as well as captions.

Tech Synergy highlights:
1. For a video length of 3-5 minutes, 24 hour turnaround.
2. If we tell them it’s urgent, will expedite process without a rush fee.
3. They charge $2/recorded minute for transcript and captioning. Less expensive than Automatic Sync Technologies.
4. We do minimal cleanup after receiving caption file.
5. Hosting:
– podcast > direct upload
– video > link to QT version of video file

Is captioning a burden for production staff? No.

Office of Communications
Had a student do it. Good solution if you find the right student — but students come and go.

John Johnston, Apps and Info Services (AIS)

– Lecture capture service, Pharm, Nursing
– automates the process
– clear speaking critical to clarity of transcription
– uses Camtasia Relay
– hosted virtualized service
Textsmith: https://www.techsmith.com/camtasiarelay.asp

Scott Williams, OIE, UHR

FinOps – Martin Luther King Day diversity video (12 minutes)
structured video, so easier to make transcript
MacSpeech Dictate (Dragon for Mac) used to dictate transcript, took about 1hr + substantial clean-up. Used “echo” technique to dictate straight through video. Did a second editorial pass.

MacSpeech: http://www.macspeech.com/

Mary Reilly – SSWD

(Mary has been captioning on campus longer than anyone. She is who Scott goes to when he has captioning questions.)

a. CaptionMaker: http://www.cpcweb.com/dv/
b. Automatic Sync Technologies: http://www.automaticsync.com/captionsync/
c. MacCaption: http://www.cpcweb.com/
Mac Caption Demo Version: http://www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/video/maccaptiondtv.html

a. “open captioned” = captions always appear on screen
b. $15/hr, students transcribe
c. Youtube Downloader: http://youtubedownload.altervista.org/

Use time-coded file – SRT.
Because of sheer volume of video content, captioning most-viewed videos (which are very popular world-wide).

Marie Skrabola – UHR
Has been captioning UHR videos for over one year. Standard practice for URH communications.

a) CaptionTube: http://captiontube.appspot.com/
b) Automatic Sync: http://www.automaticsync.com/captionsync/

Mary Beth Lewis:
Making business case for captioning?

This is a civil rights issue, not a corporate cost-benefit issue, but hearing loss affects 28 million in U.S., many on campus (no firm number, but can probably extrapolate from national percentage).


Blind stenographer: http://www.flickr.com/photos/library_of_congress/2163451008/
Disability History images: http://www.flickr.com/groups/1022796@N24/


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