Don’t let the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and Entertainment Software Association (ESA) persuade the FCC to exempt them from closed-captioning Internet video. Read the article below and click the links to read the actual petition; then, write to the FCC to uphold the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) that President Obama signed into law.
Naomi Black at Google headquarters invited Willie King, Jared Evans, Ben Rubin, Richard Goodrow, me, (and maybe others who couldn’t make it) to a Hangout On Air so she should show JAC Cook how Google’s videoconferencing technology works. We talked about some of the plusses (no pun intended) and minuses of Google+ HOA’s (Hangouts On Air, not Homeowners’ Associations). On the plus side, you have an attractive service and you don’t have to deal with firewalls; on the minus side, it is hard to have group talks in ASL when only one signer is in a big pane and all the others are in “thumbnails” in the “filmstrip” along the bottom of the screen. We discussed ways of moderating multi-signer videoconferences, such as having people hold up their hands when they want to talk and waiting to be called upon. Naomi reminded us you can select the thumbnail of the person you want to watch in the big pane, and a few of us recommended doing away with the screen-and-filmstrip layout and going to a more equally-sized multi-pane layout (or one where you can control the size of panes). Jared Evans & Willie King work at ZVRS and they said they would like to give Google some tips on more effective multi-point videoconferencing for signed language users.
I am glad that Google keeps seeking the opinions of the signing communities; I just hope they are willing to change the layout of Hangouts to a “Brady Bunch” grid format– or at least offer it as an alternate layout.
How about you? Does the current implementation of Google+ Hangouts work for you, or would you like to see changes made? Please leave your thoughts in comments below and/or send your feedback to Google!
- American Sign Language (ASL) Hangout On Air, Interpreted (terptrans.com)
- Participated in an ASL Hangout on Air on Google+ (terptrans.com)
- Google+ Hangouts (edelman.com)
Yesterday’s Hangout On Air on American Sign Language (ASL) and Deaf culture is now a video on YouTube, and that video is being crowdsourced for subtitles at Amara. If you’ve never heard of Amara (I hadn’t until yesterday), it is a website dedicated to crowdsourcing the captioning of videos. How it works is that anyone can embed a video on Amara, and anyone can caption it on a volunteer basis. Captioning is very time-consuming. It involves both transcription, line division, and time coding. The average rate of speech is somewhere around 5 syllables per second (Kendall, 2009, p. 145). You have to listen to a few seconds of a video, pause the video, type what you just heard, and repeat the process. The transcription has to be time-coded; i.e., the words have to be matched with the time they appear on the video, usually at about 32 characters per line, so that’s time-consuming too. For these reasons, when it comes to help with closed-captioning, the more the merrier, especially because so many people make videos pro bono. This video is over 48 minutes, and of course it’s pro bono. If you would like to closed-caption a few lines of the video on Amara, please do. A little work by a lot of people will get the job done.
1. I don’t like to repeat statistics without sources, but 32 and 35 characters appeared often on webpages. Screen Subtitling’s white paper “Closed caption subtitling” [PDF] said “the number of characters per line or row is a set limitation” (Screen, 2008, p. 2) with no specification of the limit or reference to the authority. I searched the Internet for the “set limitation” on characters per line, and I found the same numbers repeated in different places with no traceable references. AutoCaption.com’s “Closed captioning defined” page said, “the features of traditional captioning are: … 32 characters per line” with no citation. Welstech wiki said the Department of Education required 35 characters per line, yet when I searched the US Department of Education website, I could find no such specification. CPC.com’s Closed Captioning FAQ answered the question, “What features are supported by CEA-608 closed captions for standard definition?” thus: ” […] A caption block can have up to 4 lines and up to 32 characters per line, although for accessibility reasons, it is recommended not to exceed 2 lines and 26 characters per line […].” I searched “CEA-608″ to find the source, and I found the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) CEA-608-E Standard Details page. Unfortunately, the standards are published in a printed book that costs $300, $225 for members. Can anyone quote the source of authority? If so, please leave a comment.
Kendall, Tyler S. (2009). Speech rate, pause, and linguistic variation: An examination through the sociolinguistic archive and analysis project (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from http://ncslaap.lib.ncsu.edu/kendall/kendall-dissertation-final.pdf.
Screen. (July 2008). Closed caption subtitling. Retrieved from http://www.screen.subtitling.com/downloads/Closed%20Caption%20subtitling.pdf
- Amara/Universal Subtitles gets $1MM from Mozilla and the Knight Foundation to internationalize Web video (boingboing.net)
- You can now adjust the closed-captions on my YouTube vlogs (terptrans.com)
- Captions for all: more options for your viewing and reading pleasure (youtube-global.blogspot.com)
I participated in a Google+ Hangout On Air about American Sign Language (ASL) and Deaf culture by interpreting for Dylan, a Deaf man who shared his perspectives. I interpreted consecutively so that people could watch Dylan without voice interference; I also interpreted consecutively rather than simultaneously with the aim of providing a more accurate and natural interpretation. I interpreted for the first 15 minutes until 7pm PDT. For the rest of the Hangout, Dylan took questions in the Chat window and answered them using his voice.
P.S. I’m sorry that technical difficulties prevented me from posting the Hangout live as I said I would.
P.P.S. Dylan says that he will crowdsource this video for captioning on universalsubtitles.org. Since it is over 48 minutes long, it will take a while, so we beg your patience.
- Hangout On Air tomorrow, Deaf-Blind party today, and master’s degree update (terptrans.com)
- Resources for learning signed languages and Deaf culture (terptrans.com)
- Should interpreters interpret signed English to spoken English word-for-word? (terptrans.com)
- Do you have to advocate for consecutive interpreting? (terptrans.com)
I’m posting this for anyone who is curious to watch an English-ASL interpreter at work on stage with a speaker. Dr. Johanna Blackley and the Honors Forum coordinator at Mesa Community College were kind enough to let me share this video my interpreting partner took of me with my phone. I asked my team to record it so I could use it for self-assessment in an interpreting studies class I was taking in graduate school. I’m sharing it because I think it’s important for interpreters to see real examples of other interpreters’ work — the hits and misses in this imperfect thing we call interpretation. Most of this sample is dialogue during the Q & A portion at the end of Johanna’s lecture.
Oh, and one more thing — there was no Deaf consumer in the audience that I knew of. We were providing access for anyone who chose to show up, and there might have been someone there I was unaware of, but I had to interpret as if someone were relying on me for access to the event. My professor in the interpreting studies course I mentioned above advised us always to imagine a specific consumer, so I was imagining a client who was a fashion design student who knew something about the topic and was comfortable with both ASL and English. A more authentic interpreting sample would show an interpreter directing the target text at specific consumers. Nevertheless, I hope you can learn something about English-to-ASL interpreting from watching this sample.
P.S. I apologize that this isn’t closed-captioned. It would take several hours that I don’t have these days to transcribe the English dialogue and synchronize it with the speech. I hope you understand.