Workshops in Minnesota: Promo videos in English & ASL

I made these two videos to promote my workshops in Minneapolis/St. Paul November 9th & 10th. Friday night is Speak & Spell, a workshop on pronouncing and spelling foreign names and words. Saturday is Just What They Said: Interpreting Intentionally Vague Language. These workshops will be in English with ASL interpretation. Interpreters of all signed and spoken languages are invited! To register, go to Professional Development – Workshops | ASLIS.

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Crowdsourcing to closed-caption videos with Amara

pictograms used by the United States National ...
pictograms used by the United States National Park Service. A package containing all NPS symbols is available at the Open Icon Library (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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[1], 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.’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.’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

Screen.  (July 2008). Closed caption subtitling. Retrieved from

My experience teaching workshops at the NAOBI conference

Transcript: Hi. I’m Daniel Greene, and this vlog is about my experience at NAOBI, a conference for the National Alliance of Black Interpreters. It was a really great experience. I had gone to the RID Region V conference in Salt Lake City the week before, and now I was teaching workshops at NAOBI here in Phoenix. (Last time I did a video about this I accidentally said, “Here in San Diego.” That’s crazy, but it’s because I lived in San Diego for such a long time — twenty-seven years altogether — and I moved to Phoenix five-and-a-half years ago at the end of 2004. Funny. I still sometimes say, “Here in San Diego.”)

So, anyway, here in Phoenix, I taught two workshops. I was actually scheduled to teach three, but oddly enough, the first morning of the conference, there were so few people and so many concurrent workshops — eight workshops at the same time! And I don’t know how many attendees there were at the conference that first morning. I do know that some of the other workshops only had a handful of attendees as well. One person showed up to my workshop, and I told her I would be happy to teach her all the workshop content even though she was the only one, that we could work it out between the two of us. But if she wanted to join another workshop, she should feel free to do so, and I would take no offense. So she went to another workshop, which was fine with me.