Wednesday, July 20, 2016

An Epic Ignorance of Deaf Kids' Needs!

We know, it has been a long time since we did a blog post. We don't blog unless there is something worth blogging about. And this is definitely worth blogging about!

Deaf kids. Inaccessibility. Education.

That's what this is about. Last week a parent of a deaf child, Emily Shaw (emilypottershaw@gmail.com), brought to the attention of Caption Action 2 the fact that she was paying $5 a month for her deaf child to have access to eBooks through a library app service, which now has educational videos as well. But the educational videos lack captions.

Whaa??? How can a service that is educational, free to elementary school teachers and librarians, not consider the needs of deaf children when adding educational videos??

What company is so blatantly ignoring the needs of deaf children? The service is called Epic! Their website is https://www.getepic.com/. Their Twitter is @epickidsbooks. Facebook is facebook.com/epic.books.for.kids. Caption Action 2 already tweeted them and commented on their Facebook page with no response.

Another member of Caption Action 2 wrote an email to the company at support@getepic.com, and received the wholly unacceptable response below, reproduced in full. We have added bold text to the key portion.

Thank you for your email. The Read to Me books (green tags) do have visible text accompanying the audio. The purple-tagged audio books do not have captions or any visual pages to turn, they are just pure audio. We have recently added educational videos, and they are not all captioned. Some of them might be if the publishers provided them in that format, but I would say probably most videos are not captioned. We stream the videos in the format that we receive them from publishers, so we aren't able to add our own captions.
Best Regards,
Angela
Epic! - Books for Kids

A new school year is just around the corner! Does your child's teacher or school library use the Epic service? Contact Epic and insist/demand that they immediately remove all uncaptioned videos because they are apparently in violation of the law. (The National Association of the Deaf has an informative page, "Section 504 and ADA Obligations of Public Schools." If a public school library subscribes to this service and a deaf child in that school cannot watch the videos, then it is a violation.) Tell Epic they should be MANDATING captions on any videos provided by their video suppliers.  An educational service for children should not have ANY uncaptioned videos!


Screenshot from uncaptioned video about civil rights figure Rosa Parks. Below the screenshot
are examples of more educational videos, Screenshot provided by the frustrated 
parent who contacted Caption Action 2.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

White House: Where is Leadership on Closed Captioning?

What Federal entity has not been providing adequate captioning? What Federal entity captions after posting videos? What Federal entity has not captioned a video after two weeks?

If you guessed the White House, go to the head of the class. On YouTube, there are captions, but selectively and often delayed. (http://www.youtube.com/user/whitehouse/videos). Even the Americans with Disabilities and the Arts video got posted without captions! That's bad enough. But now we have to confront lack of captions on Facebook too! 

On November 9, the White House finally gave the President a Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/potus. This page is not Obama's personal page; it will be inherited by the next President. The page includes videos. The first video posted on November 9 has captions, but the second video, posted November 11, lacks captions! 

That second video has lacked captions since it was posted on November 11! That's roughly two weeks of no captions since! Not acceptable, especially since it is the White House! 

We have enough of a problem with the wrong attitude towards closed captioning online (too expensive, too time consuming, need to do it after the fact, and so on). We need leadership on online captioning to come from the top, and the top is the White House!

This is NOT a democratic OR republican issue. It has zilch to do with politics. It has to do with accessibility! If the White House Public Relations team doesn't get the message that they must caption BEFORE posting any video, how can we expect top YouTubers and web series producers to do the same?? There has to be leadership!

We are urging people who find this unacceptable to go to the new President's Facebook page and post a complaint below the video about the lack of captions. As of this writing, 11 people have posted complaints! It is an active page, so the complaints are most easily viewed by selecting "most recent" in the viewing dropdown.

Post a complaint about lack of captions on THIS video!

https://www.facebook.com/potus/videos/vb.424207551102424/425976254258887/

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Onion Makes People Laugh. However, Deaf People Can Only Cry.

Have you ever heard of "The Onion?" It is a parody/satirical news source, and very popular! Well, it is popular with hearing people, who can watch the videos on their website or their YouTube channel. Deaf people can't.

The Collaborative for Communication Access via Captioning (CCAC) wants to change that! Frustrated by having its requests for captions on The Onion's videos ignored, the CCAC has launched a campaign to get The Onion to closed caption finally! In an action alert, the CCAC wrote:
The Onion" has no captioning for videos, long overdue. We like to laugh also! and captions not only for deaf and hard of hearing. Captions are the world's language (for translations, search, more). Tweet them, FB them, email them to ask for Quality Captioning. Thanks if you do! TheOnion dot com has staff names and emails. On Twitter it's @TheOnion and @jmdavid [he is the digital manager for The Onion] among others. Questions? Email CCACaptioning@gmail.com anytime. Updates regularly for all in CCAC forum online also.
Think of The Onion as a reverse Buzzfeed, with short stories that put a humorous twist on actual things from the news.

The Onion's website uses a video player which clearly does not have the ability to display closed captions. This can be verified by looking at a video there and exploring the video player; there is no feature or option to display closed captions. For example, there is no CC button. They could have edited closed captioning on YouTube, but they are not captioning there.

However! A few years ago The Onion DID caption a few YouTube videos. It looks like they stopped captioning on July 30, 2012 which is the last captioned YouTube video uploaded by The Onion. The earliest one appears to have been from 2008, like the one below.

Live from Onion News Network...Fake News!
But The Onion stopped captioning in 2012, obviously not serious at all about being accessible!  So for the last three years, deaf and hard of hearing viewers and others who need closed captions, have been left out!

CCAC has been pounding on The Onion for weeks, and their efforts may be starting to bear fruit. CCAC announced that on October 21 they spoke to someone with The Onion! No further details were provided, and the battle continues.



Caption Action 2 has also previously asked The Onion for captions, as far back as 2013! And for the past few weeks, the CCAC (@CCACaptioning ) has been repeatedly tweeting The Onion. There's been no twitter response - not surprising because The Onion has over 8 million followers on Twitter! CCAC also reached out via email not once, not twice, but THREE times, and got zero response.

Why The Onion? When it comes to news and satire, The Onion is like a mirror image of the New York  Times! The "quality" of their "reporting" is such that often their fake stories have been mistaken for real news. AND they have been online since 2007, which means that there is almost a decade's worth of satirical videos online that are inaccessible to deaf and hard of hearing people.

CCAC can't do it alone. Can you help?