Home » Internet Captioning for people with hearing loss

Internet Captioning for people with hearing loss

Captioning on the Internet?

Believe it or not, it will soon be required if people with hearing loss are to have full access to the World Wide Web. That’s because transmitting sound over the internet is becoming increasingly easy. Read all about the plans to add sound to the Internet and why you should be concerned about it in Sonify the Web.

WGBH in Boston has developed software that allows folks to caption videos in a variety of formats. And it’s available for the very favorable price of FREE. Here’s MAGpie.

November 1999 – Sign World TV is an innovative organization that “broadcasts” over the Internet, and all their programming is both captioned and interpreted.

April 2000 – The FCC provided internet captioning for their April 28th public forum. How did they do it and how successful was it?

July 2000 – Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act becomes effective next month. It requires Federal websites to be accessible. Will it cause the shutdown of many Federal agency websites?

July 2000 – People with hearing loss find instant messaging to be a great resource, because you can use it despite your hearing loss. Or at least, you could. Read about Voice-Enabled Instant Messaging from Microsoft.

October 2000 – One of the recent developments on the internet is the advent of captioned videos. An organization called AbleTV is now providing  captioned videos of news events.

January 2001 – If you’re interested in the upcoming inauguration ball, and are concerned that lack of captioning will make it inaccessible to you, you might want to watch it on the web. TVWorldwide.com recently announced that they will provide captioned streaming video coverage of that event. 

July 2001 – MovieFlix and the Captioned Media Program are working to add captions to the streaming internet movies provided by MovieFlix. So if you have a reasonably fast connection, you can now view captioned streaming movies over the internet.

November 2001 – e-Media and Wordwave cooperate to provide captions on live webcasts.

December 2001 – NCAM’s Access to Rich Media Resource Site

May 2002 – Flash Web Technology Becomes Accessible

October 2002 – Court Rules Web Need Not be Accessible – This article is about a court decision that websites need not be accessible to the blind, but the same reasoning applies to captioning Internet videos.

December 2002 – The Captioned Media Program announces Captioned Educational Streaming Video on the Internet. Now you can visit their website and view captioned educational videos RIGHT NOW!

January 2003 – With sound becoming increasingly important on the Internet, it’s good to see the W3C establish a group to address standards for streaming text.

September 2003 – So what’s up with Multimedia on the Web? Is it going to be accessible to people with hearing loss? Judy Brewer, the Director of the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) at the WWW Consortium (W3C) gives us her thoughts.

October 2003 – Here’s a report on the Captioning on the Internet workshop at the 2003 TDI Convention. The presenter was Linda Idoni, the director of the West Coast office of the Media Access Group (MAG) at WGBH.

October 2003 – AOL has just announced that they will be captioning some of their streaming media. This is wonderful news for people with hearing loss.  Hopefully other content providers will follow suit.

October 2003 – OK, so we’re seeing some progress on ensuring that multimedia on the internet is captioned. But what about eBooks? Here’s the latest on eBook accessibility!

August 2004 – You have probably seen streaming video from the Internet using RealPlayer or Windows Media Player. But have you seen CAPTIONED streaming video? If not, here’s a great demo of the technology, and a couple of people you can contact for more information. 

January 2005 – WGBH announces CaptionKeeper, a tool to convert television captions to a format for use with Internet streaming video.

November 2005 – The disability community has a long history of fighting for access in the fields of telecommunications, television, etc; and it has done a remarkable job of ensuring that access is required. Now, however, many of these services are moving to the Internet, where there none of the existing legislation applies. Here’s a press release from the NAD that discusses this critical issue!

January 2006 – If you think that captioning on the Internet is not an important issue, you should read this post from Jamie Berke, who hosts the About:Deafness/HOH site.

February 2006 – Would it surprise you to learn that online versions of broadcast television programs do NOT include captions? Here’s the story!

March 2006 – Net video leaves the deaf behind

March 2006 – Here’s Cheryl Heppner’s great article on captioning Internet video.

July 2006 – Guidelines for Creating Accessible Digital Materials Published by WGBH/NCAM

July 2006 – AOL Announces Closed Captions for Online Video

September 2006 – Martin Says FCC Shouldn’t Regulate Online Video

September 2006 – Google Video Supports Captions

October 2006 – Deaf Web Users Fear Being Left Behind As TV Shows Stream Onto the Internet

March 2007 – WGBH Creates Tool For Captioning Flash Media

March 2007 – Automatic Sync Technologies Makes Captioning Easy for Adobe Flash

May 2007 – Obama Videos Get Closed Captioning

June 2007 – Digital Revolution Ignores Captioning Requirements

September 2007 – Captioned Internet News!

October 2007 – View “Heroes” on the Internet with Captions

October 2007 – Organizations Promote Online Media Captions

December 2007 – Tom Harkin’s web videos to be captioned!

December 2007 – CNET TV Adds Closed Captioning!

December 2007 – Proposed Legislation Promotes Accessibility

December 2007 – Subtitled Music Videos

January 2008 – Taudiobook Offers Free Captioned Videos Online

January 2008 – Overstream adds captions to your videos

January 2008 – Site Maintains List of Captioned Movies Available from iTunes Store

February 2008 – Project ReadOn Provides Captioned Videos Online

March 2008 – CNET Unveils CNET TV 2.0 With Closed Captioning

March 2008 – XOrbit Announces Direct-to-MPEG Closed Captioning Solution

March 2008 – Captioned Web Videos from BBC

May 2008 – Google Video Offers Search for Captioned Videos

May 2008 – Democrat wants to require disability-friendly Internet phones, video

May 2008 – DigitalChalk Partners with IBM to Automate Closed Captioning for Video Training

June 2008 – Bill Would Require Captioning on Internet Videos

June 2008 – Goldberg Testimony on Markey Bill

June 2008 – 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act Introduced

June 2008 – Markey Bill Explained in Simple Language

August 2008 – Some Minnesota Political Ads MUST Be Captioned!

August 2008 – YouTube Has Speech-to-Text Functionality…and it Works

August 2008 – Deafness and the User Experience

September 2008 – Captioned YouTube?

September 2008 – American Experience “The Presidents” Downloads have Closed Captioning and Video Description

April 2009 – CaptionTube: Sophisticated Caption Editing for YouTube Videos

May 2009 – COAT Contacts Hulu Internet TV Distributor about More Accessibility

June 2009 – COAT Requests Captions on Nexflix “Watch Instantly” Offerings

June 2009 – Why Netflix Doesn’t Offer Subtitles or Closed Captions

July 2009 – COAT Applauds Representative Markey’s  Accessibility Bill

November 2009 – Google to Caption YouTube Videos

November 2009 – Google and YouTube: Leading the Way for Internet Captioning

December 2009 – Hulu Labs Cooks Up Captions Search

January 2010 – YouTube Adds Automatic “Captioning”

January 2010 – 22frames catalogs captioned videos and more!

January 2010 – Captioned Internet Videos — An Emerging Issue and Initial Success

February 2010 – An engineer’s quest to caption the Web

February 2010 – Connecting Marlee and Mickey

March 2010 – YouTube Makes Captioning Available to All

March 2010 – Captioning for Online TV

April 2010 – Netflix Subtitles Some Online Movies

April 2010 – Technology Poised to Ease Internet Video Captioning

July 2010 – Create Your Own YouTube Captions Quickly and Easily

August 2010 – Should Closed-Captioning Of Web Video Be Mandated By Government?

September 2010 – Captions on the Web

October 2010 – Court Reporters Ready to Help with Closed Captioning for New Disability Act

November 2010 – YouTube and Online Captions

Sonify the Web


A man named Thomas Dolby Robertson will be presenting what is billed as the “the next online revolution: sound on the Net”, at CNET Builder.com Live!, which will be held December 7-11, 1999. Until now the largest barrier for adding sound to a Web site has been the overwhelming file size and download time. Now, companies including Yahoo!, Intel, and MTV have successfully brought sound to the web.

What this means to us, of course, is that the internet might become the next major communications medium to exclude people who have hearing loss. These companies have been working to deliver sound over the internet as easily as they currently deliver text, and they have succeeded. To date the inability to hear has mostly deprived people of cheesy music that really adds nothing to the content of the sites. But with the development of reduced bandwidth sound formats, it may now be possible to make sound as important on the internet as it is on television.

There are currently NO CAPTIONING REQUIREMENTS on the internet, so this development could mean the exclusion of people with hearing loss from much of the internet (especially the World Wide Web).

This is a development we will be following closely. Also, we’d love to get YOUR ideas about what we can do to prevent the World Wide Web from becoming inaccessible.


Section 508 Becomes Effective

July 2000

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act becomes effective on August 8th. It requires that websites of federal agencies be fully accessible for people with disabilities, including hearing loss. For people with hearing loss, that means that all videos must be captioned, streaming audio must have text alternatives, and any acoustic information must also be presented in alternative formats.

There has been some online speculation that many federal agencies will simply shut down their websites on August 7th to avoid having to comply. My guess is that they will just ignore the access requirements.

So mark August 8th on your calendar. It might be an interesting day to poke around the federal agency websites to see what you find!

For more information on Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, visit the Section 508 Page of our Resources Directory.


NCAM’s Access to Rich Media Resource Site

December 2001

Editor: Are you familiar with the National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM)? They are a subsidiary of WGBH in Boston, and they are working to ensure that the hot new internet technologies remain accessible to people with disabilities, including hearing loss. They have a website that demonstrates how to do exactly that. So if you or someone you know works on the web, be sure to check their site. Contact information is provided on the WGBH Page of our Resource Directory.

Here are portions of a recent press release.


Access to Rich Media Resource Site is an online repository of information about creating accessible video, graphics, animation and the like. The information is intended for developers and for users. The Access to Rich Media site and related activities are funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, U.S. Department of Education.

Examples of rich media include:
– A streaming video newscast.
– An animated GIF in a banner advertisement.
– A map with audio descriptions of historic locations which are activated by mouse rollover.
– A stock ticker on a news web site.
– An intranet-based training video played in the QuickTime player.
– An animated Flash presentation embedded in a web page.
– An image slideshow playing on a Palm handheld.


Flash Web Technology Becomes Accessible

May 2002

One of the concerns that we all need to be aware of is the possibility that people with disabilities will be denied access to communications technology because its developers do not make the technology accessible. This has been a particularly troublesome concern with regard to some of the new Internet technology, because the Internet is becoming such an important part of mainstream American life. The Internet has historically been text-based, which is fine for people for hearing loss, and even for people with vision loss if designers take a few simple steps to ensure screen reader compatibility. But recent technologies like Flash and Shockwave have been introduced with no thought to accessibility. Their growing popularity threatened to exclude people with disabilities from a significant portion of Internet content. Fortunately, the newly released Flash MX provides both captioning capabilities and screen reader compatibility.

Flash is an Internet technology that allows developers to create interactive, highly visual applications while maintaining a small file size. This is of benefit to users because they are able to access these applications without enduring a lengthy download.

Jason Smith, a technical director at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, created a Flash captioning tool, which was subsequently purchased by Macromedia, the company that developed the Flash technology. The Macromedia folks will be releasing this tool as a free downloadable Flash extension, thus enabling all Flash developers to create captioned applications. Here’s a link to an example of captioning done with Smith’s tool.

One of the strong incentives for accessibility for all Internet technology is the requirement of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. This requirement, which went into effect last June, requires that all Federal government websites be accessible to people with disabilities. As of that date, Federal websites were not able to use Flash or other new technologies that did not provide appropriate access.


Web Group Launches Captioning Standards Group

January 2003

As sound becomes more and more pervasive on the Internet, this wonderful resource is becoming increasingly unavailable to people with hearing loss. Organizations like WGBH in Boston are working to provide user-friendly tools to enable developers to provide Internet access to people with disabilities. The Federal government has chimed in with Section 508, which requires all Federal websites to be fully accessible. Unfortunately, less than 20% of Federal sites comply with this regulation. (I just read the number and wasn’t clever enough to save it. If anyone has it, please let me know.)

Now the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is getting involved. This is the group that establishes standards for the Internet; while their involvement doesn’t guarantee that a standard will be proposed, accepted, or used, it sure increases the likelihood that these good things will happen. The W3C has established the Timed Text Working Group (TTWG) and instructed them to establish XML-based standards to define a streaming text protocol.

A related specification called the Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language (SMIL) is in the final recommendation stages of the W3C process. It describes in general terms how to coordinate various components of multimedia presentations, but does not provide specific guidelines for implementing text. The result is the creation of proprietary and incompatible specifications that pretty much guarantee that the technology will not become broadly adopted. (Remember the browser wars of a few years ago?)

For additional information, please point your browser to http://news.com.com/2100-1023-981491.html?tag=fd_top


Accessible Streaming Video Demonstration Online

August 2004

Editor: You have probably seen streaming video from the Internet using RealPlayer or Windows Media Player. But have you seen CAPTIONED streaming video? If not, here’s a great demo of the technology, and a couple of people you can contact for more information. If you are involved in any aspect of video production, I hope all your products are captioned!


Visual Voice Captions and Vision Office are pleased to present a demonstration of accessible streaming media on WorldEnable. The captioned video presentation uses the United Nation’s webcast of a press conference of the Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on a comprehensive and integral convention to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities.


On the left-hand side, click on:
Accessible Media Demonstration: 24 May 2004 UN Press conference with Ambassador Gallegos. (requires RealPlayer)

If you want to learn more about accessible streaming video and how it benefits your organizations, contact:

Leo Valdes, C.C.P., M.B.A., Managing Director
Vision Office Support Services, Ltd. [Empower the User]
Tel. 1.604.983.0415
Fax. 1.604.983.0748

Shelley Arthur, Principal
Toll Free: 1-866-219-4414
Tel: 604-533-6558
Fax: 604-533-6631


Convert Television Captions to Web-Streaming Formats

January 2005

Editor: Those who are interested in captioning streaming video on the Internet are familiar with MAGpie, WGBH’s software that allows anyone to insert captions into videos of various format.

WGBH recently announced a new tool called CaptionKeeper, which converts television captions into a format suitable for streaming video. Here’s the press release.


Boston, MA. WGBH’s National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) announces the availability of software which enables closed captions created for broadcast and video to migrate to the Web.

CaptionKeeper (TM) software automatically converts line-21 captions created for television or video into Web-streaming formats. The software, now available for purchase, uses existing closed-caption data to create caption text suitable for live and/or archived multimedia presentations via RealPlayer, Windows Media Player and QuickTime Player formats.

The development of CaptionKeeper follows WGBH’s release of its award-winning Media Access Generator, or MAGpie software. MAGpie is a free tool that enables do-it-yourself captioning and audio description (for users who are blind or have low vision) of digitized media, and is used by people around the world to make Web-based multimedia accessible. CaptionKeeper joins MAGpie as an easy-to-use tool for creating a more accessible Web.

For additional information on CaptionKeeper, including technical specifications and cost, please visit (www.captionkeeper.org) or contact the NCAM via e-mail at captionkeeper@wgbh.org.


Subtitles: Deaf to the Problem

February 2006

An estimated 31 million Americans are hard of hearing, so it seems intuitive that Apple would provide captions on shows like “Desperate Housewives” and “The Office” that it has started selling online. Yet, in a mystery worthy of “Lost,” there aren’t subtitles on any of the iTunes video products. “We’re just shut out,” says Maria Herr of Chicago, who is deaf. “I paid $2 for an episode of ‘Commander in Chief’ and I have no idea what Geena Davis is saying.”  Full Story


Net video leaves the deaf behind

March 2006

Like millions of people in America last September, Sonny Wasilowski was riveted by the real-life drama of JetBlue Flight 292. The plane’s landing gear was stuck, and as pilots prepared for an emergency landing at Los Angeles International Airport, television stations trained their cameras on the potentially doomed flight. But as the plane circled LAX to burn off fuel, Wasiloski had no idea what was happening. All he saw was the same picture of an airplane floating against the darkening night sky. Like many watchers, Wasiloski had tuned into the unfolding drama at work and was watching news video coverage on his computer, over the Internet. But the video he watched online was essentially useless to him. Wasilowski is deaf. Full Story


Martin Says FCC Shouldn’t Regulate Online Video

September 2006

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin says he does not think the FCC should be regulating Google Video, YouTube or other online video services. When asked during his renomination hearing in the Senate Commerce Committee Tuesday about his philosophy of Internet regulation, he said that he did not think the Internet should be taxed, or that it should be subject to payments into the Universal Service Fund for rural telecommunications, which he said would discourage broadband rollouts by raising the price. As to online video, he said that it is “not necessary to regulate [Internet video service] at this time.”   Full Story


Google Video Supports Captions

Google Video supports captions in self broadcasting, with Subviewer (.sub) and Subrip (.srt) formats. Adding video captions is easy using the form in the “video status” section (no more transcript, but captions).

To see some examples, please point your browser to: http://video.google.com/videocaptioned

And to find out how to caption YOUR videos, see: http://video.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=26577


Deaf Web Users Fear Being Left Behind As TV Shows Stream Onto the Internet

October 2006

The Internet has been a boon to deaf computer users, giving them easy access to a wide variety of information and breaking down communication barriers. But many of those users feel left behind by one of the Internet’s fastest-growing segments: online video. Though television networks and movie studios are rapidly expanding into Internet distribution, few online videos offer the closed captioning that companies are required by law to offer to TV viewers. The major networks provide full-length episodes of some of their most popular shows on the Web, including hits like “Lost” and “Survivor,” but none of them include captions. Apple Computer Inc.’s iTunes store sells downloads of more than 200 TV shows, but doesn’t offer versions with captions, and the company’s popular iPod player doesn’t support them. The absence of online captions has emerged as a hot topic in the deaf community. Full Story  


Obama Videos Get Closed Captioning

Web video is helping all sorts of people get connected to the political process – but some have still been left out. For the deaf and hard-of-hearing, YouTube hasn’t really done a whole lot of good – until now. Nine of Senator Barack Obama’s web videos have now been outfitted with closed-captioning, thanks to Project readOn, which created a special player to display captions alongside a Web video (make sure you turn off your pop-up blocker when you try this out). Several of his videos are directly linked to on Project readOn’s homepage, and you can search for his name to find all of his captioned videos.  Full Story


Captioned Internet News!

September 2007

This is very cool!  You may have heard that AOL would provide closed captioning on some of its online news stories. Well, that feature is operational now! Point your browser to http://tinyurl.com/24uvbg and notice that some of the stories have the “CC” symbol by them. If you activate those stories, a separate window will come up with the video in it, and it will have a “CC” symbol. Just click on that symbol to get closed captions for that story! Very cool!


View “Heroes” on the Internet with Captions

Editor: Thanks to Cheryl Heppner and NVRC for this info on an online captioned episode of “Heroes” from NBC. It’s not perfect, as Cheryl points out. But it’s a good start!


NBC has given us a glimpse of the future for captions on the Internet. You can view an episode of the hit series “Heroes” at http://www.nbc.com/Heroes/video/episodes.shtml

1. Click on “Full Episodes” near the top of the screen
2. Click on “Select Episode” at the lower left of the screen
3. Click on “Episode 201: Four Months Later”
4. Click on the first chapter
You will need to watch a commercial before the show begins
5. As the show begins, you will see a new tab for Extra Features – either select from it (if it’s visible) or click the blue VIEW tab
6. Click to select closed captioning
In a second or two, you will see text at the right of the screen. The box with text on a gray background shows what is being spoken onscreen or gives information about sounds. After the text appears in the gray box, it moves to the black background.

The text is small, and it can take practice to scan the captions and the screen, but it’s a great start. You get the whole experience, including the commercials.

You can easily go back to see something you missed, or move ahead to the end of the show by dragging the bar along the bottom of the screen. The captions will follow with it. I’ve heard that sometimes the download speed makes the captions out of sync, but I didn’t have that problem..


CNET TV Adds Closed Captioning!

December 2007

CNET TV, an online site that focuses on technology and consumer products, just announced that it is adding captioning to its videos.  Many consumers had written and emailed asking for this accommodation, and the folks at CNET finally made it happen! Starting today, CNET videos will have a “CC” button in the lower right corner of their video interface. Simply click the button to bring up captioning. Executive edirot Molly Wood explained that the captioning may not always be available immediately when a video is uploaded, but will be available within a few days, max.  You can view it here. Be sure to click on the “CC” button in the lower right corner.


Subtitleman’s Video Collection

December 2007

Subtitleman, a Canadian whose hobby is to collect and subtitle videos for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, has completed 65 music videos with captions that are available on YouTube.

His videos include selections by such musicians as:

  Martina McBride

  Simon & Garfunkel

  Nancy Sinatra

  Billy Joel

  Peter & Gordon

  Gerry & the Pacemakers

  Patsy Cline


  John Mayer

  Dixie Chicks

  Alan Jackson

  Weird Al Jankovic

You can find links to all of his selections, and sign up to subscribe at: http://uk.youtube.com/profile_videos?user=subtitleman


Taudiobook Offers Free Captioned Videos Online

January 2007

Taudiobook is a company with software that automatically syncs a transcript to a video. As a promotion and a public service they’ve been captioning various videos, including virtually all of the presidential debates You might want to check out some of his other captioned videos, too! Point your browser here!


Overstream adds captions to your videos

January 2008

Have you ever produced a video without adding captions simply because you didn’t want to bother using your video editor’s clunky, built-in captioning tools? Better yet, want to add captions to someone else’s video? Check out Overstream, a service that lets you add text captions to videos from a handful of hosting sites including the big two: YouTube and Google Video.  Diving right in to captioning a video is simple. Once you’ve given Overstream the URL, it sends you to the Flash-based editor, which at first glance may look complicated, but is about as simple as it gets. If you’re used to the timeline controls of any old video player you’ll feel right at home–just pick the spot of video where you want to add a caption and start typing away. Overstream will automatically add each caption as a 3-second chunk. If you need to make it shorter or longer, there are toggle controls you can dial up or down, and buttons to send it right next to the neighboring caption. Additionally, you can see exactly where the caption will end in a color-coded bar that sits below the video’s timeline, and tweaking it down to the exact half second or so requires no technical knowhow whatsoever; just drag the bar to the part of the video you want. When finished with any additions you can kick the video back out to Overstream, where it’ll be hosted from its original service provider (via embed) while overlaying the captions you’ve created below.   Full Story


Site Maintains List of Captioned Movies Available from iTunes Store

January 2008

We’re slowly but surely starting to see more captioned content on the Internet, and hopefully that trend will continue! I recently got an email from Luck Kanthatham, informing me that the Apple TV Source website is maintaining a list of captioned movies available from the iTunes Store. See http://appletvsource.com/content/view/546/64/


Project ReadOn Provides Captioned Videos Online

February 2008

Project readOn is a team of people with the singular goal of making online media content available to all, whether you are hard of hearing, simply cannot or do not want sound on, or if the content is in a language other than your native tongue.  We have built a caption player that allows for universal access to online media. Our mission is to distribute this service to as many people globally who need it. Through advertising dollars, grants and the management of meta-data we hope to continue to provide this service indefinitely.  The owners of Project readOn have a long history in online services and closed captioning in the traditional broadcast world, and they bring this wealth of knowledge and expertise to Project readOn.  We have offices in Los Angeles and Austin Texas and we work with people across the US and the world in both the private and public sectors to realize our dream of universal Access for All for all online video content.   Full Story


Google Video Offers Search for Captioned Videos

May 2008

Google Video has a new advanced search feature which allows users to quickly locate all of the closed captioned (CC) videos on the web or on any particular site. Point your browser to the Google video advanced search capability (URL below), enter desired search words and the domain you want to search, and check “Search only closed captioned videos” checkbox. This is very cool!



Democrat wants to require disability-friendly Internet phones, video

May 2008

At the moment, most TVs and telephones must be outfitted with special features for people with hearing, vision, and speech impairments under U.S. law. Now an influential Democratic congressman wants to expand those requirements to their Internet counterparts. The bill being drafted by Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) would require, at least in some cases, dramatic changes in the way Internet phone- and video-related products are designed, while making it more difficult than under existing law for companies to claim exemptions from those requirements. [. . .] In some ways, the effort would simply build upon steps already taken by policymakers in recent years. Last summer, for instance, the Federal Communications Commission decided that voice-over Internet protocol providers whose services connect to the public-switched telephone network, such as Vonage, would be required to make their services compatible with hearing aids and telecommunications relay services, just as traditional phone operators do.  Full Story


Bill Would Require Captioning on Internet Videos

June 2008

Many people also use the Internet to view movie clips, television shows, newscasts and sporting events. However, many are not able to take full advantage of these media because of their disabilites. Democratic U.S. Rep. Edward Markey, of Malden, is sponsoring a bill that would mandate major producers of Internet videos to implement captioning and video description soundtracks on their videos. Television networks would be obligated to deliver captioning and video description tracks when streaming their shows online, along with video description tracks as well as closed captioning for traditional over-the-air broadcasts. While there are some technological issues to overcome, such as formatting captions and video descriptions to be compatible with Windows, Macintosh and Linux computers, along with the different media players available for each computer, the industry says these concerns can be resolved and is working on them.  Full Story


CaptionTube: Sophisticated Caption Editing for YouTube Videos

April 2009

Last August YouTube enabled users to upload closed caption files for video captions, but today they’re trying to make it even easier for you to reach those viewers who are either hearing impaired or unable to understand your audio. YouTube’s new caption feature, CaptionTube, now allows for adding captions via a sophisticated video caption editor, so users can add their text transcriptions side by side with the video in question. Acknowledging the limitations prior to CaptionTube, the YouTube blog admits, “We recognize, however, that the process of adding closed captions to your video – uploading a text file – leaves a bit to be desired, even though we support a wide range of formats from various captioning service and software.”  Full Story


COAT Contacts Hulu Internet TV Distributor about More Accessibility

May 2009

COAT recently wrote a letter to Hulu asking for more accessibility and usability of their website and of the content on the Hulu website (TV, movies and video clips).  COAT thanked Hulu for already having some material captioned and for making captioned material searchable through a “special features” function. COAT also asked Hulu to take steps to make all of the video material on the website captioned and video described.  For a copy of COAT’s letter, send Email [Ed: info@coataccess.info].


COAT Requests Captions on Nexflix “Watch Instantly” Offerings

June 2009

On June 11, COAT sent a letter to Netflix asking them to make its “Watch Instantly” movies and other videos and its website accessible to and usable by people with hearing and people with vision disabilities. Consumers are irate about lack of accessibility including some Netflix shareholders. COAT asked for a designated disability Point of Contact, a meeting with Netflix executives to discuss concerns, and a written committment from the company on what steps it is taking to incorporate accessibility and usability in all of its services  Full Story


Why Netflix Doesn’t Offer Subtitles or Closed Captions

June 2009

Netflix’s chief product officer, Neil Hunt, wrote an interesting blog post today about why his company doesn’t offer subtitles or closed captions on its streaming content. Evidently, adding subtitles and closed captions is harder than it looks. English subtitles don’t need to be added to most English movies (they are “burned in” to the stream for foreign language movies), so the company needs to figure out a way to let individuals turn the words on or off.   Full Story


Google to Caption YouTube Videos

November 2009

In the first major step toward making millions of videos on YouTube accessible to deaf and hearing-impaired people, Google unveiled new technologies on Thursday that will automatically bring text captions to many videos on the site. While the technology can only insert captions on English language speech, Google is giving users the choice to use its automatic translation system to read the captions in 51 languages. That could broaden the appeal of YouTube videos to millions of other people who do not speak English but could use the captioning technology to read subtitles in their native language. The speech recognition technology that Google uses to turn speech into text is not new; Google currently uses it to transcribe voice mail messages for users of its Google Voice service. But Ken Harrenstien, a deaf engineer who helped develop the automatic captioning system, said the technology had never been applied on such a large scale.   Full Story


Hulu Labs Cooks Up Captions Search

December 2009

Hulu Labs, the premium video content site’s platform that offers users experimental new features, has just rolled out a nifty new feature called Captions Search. Captions Search lets you search for keywords within the closed captions for videos of TV shows on the site. Closed Captioning is the transcript and text from a television or video screen that’s often used as a way for the hearing-impaired to watch television. The new feature also lets you see a quick preview of a search results, by hovering your mouse over the thumbnail with the segment of the video that includes the search term included.  Full Story


22frames catalogs captioned videos and more!

January 2010

The web offers a world of quality videos for our enjoyment and enlightenment. However, for a large population of Internet users* who are unable to hear, understand, or enable the audio content of videos, finding ones to watch can be a pain**. Captioned and subtitled videos are an answer; however, they are generally scattered and/or mixed with all other videos across the Internet. Up until now, there was no central place to easily and reliably search for and discover such videos across multiple video hosts. 22frames was built, in part, to provide such a place. In turn, an additionally important goal is to drive significant traffic to caption/subtitle friendly video hosts and creators. By continually indexing videos from these multiple hosts, this site offers an increasingly comprehensive catalog covering many different topics. Indexing is mostly automated using APIs and specialized web crawlers. User submissions of videos and channels also play an important role.   Here’s the site!


An engineer’s quest to caption the Web

February 2010

The Internet used to be a place where Ken Harrenstien could do anything.  The Google engineer, who has been deaf since childhood, loved the Web because he could e-mail and chat without the aid of a sign language translator.  But as the Web evolved and got faster, online video started to flood in. And all of a sudden, this place that once allowed for limitless communication started to feel walled off to Harrenstien. “It was only when they started adding videos that the Net was not my means of access, but it became a barrier,” he said in a recent interview, speaking through signing interpreter. “And that was very frustrating.” The reason for Harrenstien’s trouble is simple: Almost no video on the Internet comes paired with text captioning for the deaf.  Full story


Connecting Marlee and Mickey

by Blair Levin

February 2010

Nobody who was at the FCC’s broadband field hearing at Gallaudet University (http://www.broadband.gov/fieldevents/)in November will forget the passion of Marlee Matlin.  Her dedicated efforts led to captioning laws being passed nearly a generation ago. But now, she told us, her work was being “erased.”  Closed captions were being taken out of broadcast content being shown on the Internet.  Among her many examples:  her own performance on “Dancing with the Stars!”  Her distress was palpable. We posted a video clip (http://blog.broadband.gov/?entryId=15370) of Marlee’s statement on our blog, and her passion was seen over the blogosphere.  Someone forwarded the clip to Disney.  And Disney got to work. As a result, Disney has announced that ABC.com is expanding its captioning efforts. Instead of just captioning scripted dramas and comedies, it has committed to captioning all of its long form programs that it puts on its online player at ABC.com, including reality and live shows like “Dancing With The Stars.” Way to go, Marlee. Way to go, Disney. And way to go to the person in the blogosphere who thought to connect the two.  Full Story


YouTube Makes Captioning Available to All

March 2010

Google’s YouTube on Thursday announced that it has moved its automatic speech-recognition and closed-captioning technology out of beta and have now made it available to the YouTube community at large. Most, if not all, YouTube videos now include a “CC” button that, if pressed, will automatically generate the closed-captioning technology. The technology processes the audio feed, using the speech-recognition technology used in the core voice search feature that has also built into the Android voice search feature, the GOOG-411 phone search, and other products.  Full Story


Captioning for Online TV

March 2010

The entertainment world is moving to the next generation of closed captioning technology with online TV, as a new Spreety.com video demonstrates. For example, ABC.com has the ability to customize white on black vs. black on white text. FOX.com does a good job of moving captions to the top or the bottom of the screen, based on the most appropriate place for the text to be displayed. PBS and PBS Kids have most of their shows online with closed caption support. . . . Hulu further innovates with a caption search feature that hot links to the matching video clip. With any YouTube video, Speech to Text technology can be used to generate same language captions. Then, through translation software, the captions can be rendered in many languages.  Full Story


Netflix Subtitles Some Online Movies

April 2010

This is Neil Hunt, Chief Product Officer at Netflix. As I promised last year, I’m pleased to report that today we have enabled closed captioning for some TV episodes and movies that you can watch instantly on your PC or Mac. Although it’s a limited library of content with subtitles available – about 100 titles – we now have released the technology and we will be working to fill in the library over time  Full Story


Technology Poised to Ease Internet Video Captioning

April 2010

A few months ago, Vint Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google and hard-of-hearing “Father of the Internet,” announced that select partners of YouTube are beta testing software enabling computer-generated captioning. The software uses Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) technology to turn spoken (or recorded) words into computer text, then creates the necessary captions. It’s not perfect, but it allows complete access within the current limitations of voice recognition technology. With some improvements in ASR, YouTube users could have the ability to click “Transcribe Audio” within the interface and automatically generate captions from a video’s soundtrack. Cerf worked with Kenneth Hammerstein, a software engineer at Google who is deaf, on the project.  Full Story


Create Your Own YouTube Captions Quickly and Easily

July 2010

I created a simple web application to significantly speed up the human-based caption creation process for broadband users who want to create YouTube-compatible caption files. Since YouTube now has the capacity to translate captions into hundreds of foreign languages, this should appeal to people who are interested in reaching non-English speakers as well as the hearing-impaired. Right now it outputs captions in the YouTube .SBV format. I’d be happy to add an interface to output in other caption formats if requested. Here’s the introductory beta demo version.


Should Closed-Captioning Of Web Video Be Mandated By Government?

August 2010

This month Congress unanimously passed the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (S. 3304) and the Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (H.R. 3101) As Josh explained in his own post at 3PlayMedia, the two bills that have been passedwill expand the requirement for web video captioning and accessibility services.  Specifically,

1. They will require that any captioned television program be captioned when delivered over the Internet, and;

2. They also require all devices large enough for video to be equipped to support captioning functionality.

Josh does explain in his post that while H.R. 3101 and S. 3304 have more widespread implications for television-related programming, they are still “a significant step forward” in providing a mandate for closed-captioning in online video with professional publishers and platforms.  Full Story


Captions on the Web

September 2010

Videos posted on the Web reach a global audience. But often a large portion of that audience is excluded from the full experience because they can’t hear the audio and the videos don’t have captions. That’s starting to change for the 36 million Americans with varying levels of hearing loss, according to estimates by the Hearing Loss Association of America. Legislation requiring TV broadcasters to provide captions for its online programming is headed for approval when Congress returns from recess this month. “There are those within the industry who recognize the inherent value [of providing captions online] and they’ve found a cost-effective way of putting it out there,” said Pat Prozzi, president of the video captioning service VITAC, based in Canonsburg. “[But] there are a group of program providers that see it less as a benefit and more of a cost.  Full Story


YouTube and Online Captions

November 2010

When YouTube launched its automatic closed-captioning service a year ago, there were a few important words the tool couldn’t recognize – like “YouTube.”

YouTube’s manually uploaded captions on a video of Google CEO Eric Schmidt.The problem highlighted some of the difficulties faced in the push to make new technology more accessible to people with disabilities. Accessibility tools like speech recognition are still evolving. And so much information is now generated by users that it seems impossible to make it all accessible to everyone.

In the past few weeks, Google has rolled out major improvements in the technology behind automatic captions, reducing the overall word error rate by 20%. The tool, which is accessed by clicking on the little “cc” button on most YouTube videos and selecting “Transcribe Audio,” can be used by anyone. But it’s not perfect.

Drugs & Conditions