Friday, November 27, 2009
So if you point out the potential of HR 3101 to create jobs to your Congressional representatives, that could be the swing factor that pushes some of them towards supporting the bill. We don't know how many jobs could be created. Given that we are talking about the Internet, and some programming may be produced that is exclusive to the Internet, it could be a lot of jobs! Most of the caption-producing jobs will go to hearing people, but perhaps some deaf and hard of hearing people will also find other employment at captioning service providers that have to increase their hiring to meet rising demand.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Jamie visited the offices of 88 Congressmen and Congresswomen, plus had a meeting with her own representative's legislative director. The meeting with the legislative director went very well! Jamie left with the hopeful impression that her own representative would support HR 3101 soon. The LD had several questions about HR 3101, not all of which Jamie was able to answer. For the ones she was not able to answer, she referred him to the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology.
In another office, the staff person asked, "Why HR 3101? What about Google and YouTube captions?" That led to Jamie sitting next to the staff person to explain that we still need HR 3101 because as great as it is that Google is introducing automatic captioning, those captions are not the same quality as the captions we are used to on television and DVD. Google's captions are imperfect machine generated captions; the ones we are used to on television and DVD have been carefully produced and edited, with the exception of live captioning. But even the live captioning is done by professional real-time captioners.
This being Capitol Hill, Jamie did have one surprise. In the office of Representative Debbie Halvorson (Illinois), the young staffer sitting at the desk began to use sign language with her. It was fairly fluent sign language, and Jamie exclaimed, "You know sign language!" He called someone over, and another young staffer came over to talk to Jamie, signing even more fluently. He had deaf parents! Jamie had bumped into an adult child of deaf parents, a CODA! He did not know about HR 3101, and asked Jamie to send him a PDF of the SIGNews November article on HR 3101. You just never know where you will discover a "deaf connection!"
In fact, this time, it was the SIGNews article that impressed the Hill staff. When Jamie displayed her copy of SIGNews to Hill staff, more often than not the reaction was "Wow!" The big headline made them realize just how significant HR 3101 is.
Below is a list of Representatives' offices that Jamie visited today, by state. If your representative is on this list, please follow up with a call or email:
|Faleomavaega, Eni||American Samoa|
|Young, CW Bill||Florida|
|Jackson Jr., Jesse||Illinois|
|Peterson, Collin (became a cosponsor!) ||Minnesota|
|Cleaver, Emmanuel (became a cosponsor!) ||Missouri|
|Pallone Jr., Frank||New Jersey|
|Sires, Albio||New Jersey|
|Teague, Harry||New Mexico|
|Arcuri, Michael||New York|
|Clarke, Yvette||New York|
|Crowley, Joseph||New York|
|Engel, Eliot||New York|
|Tonko, Paul||New York|
|Price, David||North Carolina|
|Sablan, Gregorio||Northern Mariana Islands|
|Clyburn, James||South Carolina|
|Jackson Lee, Sheila||Texas|
|Johnson, Eddie Bernice||Texas|
|Matheson, Jim||Utah (return visit)|
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Let's welcome from Maine, Representative Chellie Pingree (D-1)!
Thanks to the anonymous commenter in the previous post for alerting us!
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
The fully grown up deaf lady is Marlee Matlin.
Marlee Matlin and Ed Markey
Marlee took a few minutes to meet with Jehanne, a young deaf vlogger who is certain to get the job of the SIGNews editor when she grows up. Jehanne taped a captioned interview with Marlee.
Jehanne and Marlee
In the near future, Caption Action 2 will have some exciting news to report. For now...mum's the word.
Friday, November 13, 2009
As the FCC gathers recommendations for a national broadband plan, it faces a historic opportunity to help improve the lives of all deaf and hard of hearing individuals.
A recent field hearing on broadband access for people with disabilities outlined several of the necessary improvements an effective national broadband plan could have for people with disabilities, from improved closed captioning services to improved emergency services like 911.
Some of the Benefits of Broadband for People With Disabilities:
1. Access to high speed Internet provides access to goods and services that people with disabilities would otherwise face obstacles in obtaining.
2. In addition to increased commercial opportunities, broadband provides educational opportunities, including the option of attending distance-learning courses.
3. Broadband increases access to job opportunities for the disabled, particularly jobs that would otherwise require difficult or unnecessary commuting as part of the job search and application process.
4. Broadband permits users of Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS) to use Video Relay Services (VRS) to communicate more easily with voice telephone users.
One broadband access issue specific to deaf and hard of hearing people is closed captioning. For example, section 508 requires accessibility of government web video, but it is not unusual to come across a government web video that is not captioned. In fact, YouTube has a US Government section, http://www.youtube.com/usgovernment. Many of the videos there are not captioned.
Another issue is that the internet and regular television are merging. This means that internet television needs to be captioned just like regular television. Captioning on the internet is also important for educational access. Without captions on the internet, deaf and hard of hearing people miss out on news, entertainment, and educational opportunities.Jamie Berke is a leader of Caption Action 2, a cause on Facebook.
Update: Tonight Caption Action 2 checked YouTube/USGovernment and found a big increase in captioned video. There is still some not captioned on the 86 channels in YouTube/USGovernment (so far, found 19 that are not captioning or caption very little), but the uncaptioned portion is getting smaller and smaller, probably because of section 508.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Exact Language from HR 3101
SEC. 103. RELAY SERVICES. (a) DEFINITION.—Paragraph (3) of section 225(a) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 225(a)(3)) is amended to read as follows: ‘‘(3) TELECOMMUNICATIONS RELAY SERVICES.—The term ‘telecommunications relay services’ means telephone transmission that provides the ability for an individual who is deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, or who has a speech disability to engage in communication by wire or radio with one or more individuals, in a manner that is functionally equivalent to the ability of a hearing individual who does not have a speech disability to communicate using voice communication services by wire or radio.’’.What Does That Mean?
The above language is vague, which may be part of the reason for the opposition by some people. As Kelby Brick explained on Twitter, it means that deaf people who use sign language would be able to use relay services to communicate with non-signing deaf people. Kelby provided further information to clarify why this provision was added to HR 3101. He pointed to a PDF of Consumer Groups’ Expectations of Responsibilities and Goals for the Disability Rights Office (DRO) Federal Communications Commission, which has the following language:
"Grant the pending petition to clarify that TRS includes communications between and among people with disabilities and not only communications between an individual with a disability and one without a disability"
The Petition to the FCC
What petition is this language referring to? Again Kelby pointed to the original source, a petition to the FCC from January 28, 2009, Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities, CG Docket No. 03-123. This is a 25-page document that asks that the definition of a relay service be expanded to include calls made with a combination of multiple communication assistants and technologies (e.g. captioned telephone, video relay, etc), because section 225 of the Communications Act requires "relay services that are the functional equivalent of traditional voice services provided to hearing users." Page 9 states "Although VRS now appears to be the preferred mode of communication for many former TTY users who sign, millions of Americans with hearing loss must still rely on text-based communication."
More Interaction Between ASL Deaf and Oral Deaf
In other words, while many deaf people use sign language video relay services, what about those deaf and hard of hearing people who do not use sign language or who do not know sign language? The days when everyone used TTYs are gone! What if a non-signing deaf person wants to contact a signing deaf person without using instant messaging or email? This provision of HR 3101 could encourage friendships between oral and signing deaf people! Or what if someone from Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf wants to collaborate with someone at the National Association of the Deaf?
How to get to Sesame Street?
40 years ago two deaf five year olds could not watch Sesame Street because closed captioning did not exist yet. Today it is 40 years later and today's deaf five year olds can not watch Sesame Street online. How do you think Bert and Ernie feel about that? The Cookie Monster would probably chomp up the page in frustration.
The Sesame Street website at PBS does not have captions on its videos for children. See for yourself at http://pbskids.org/sesame/#/videos. Ironic isn't it? A show that purports to be open and accessible to all children regardless of race or disability does not caption its online videos.
Forty years later, Sesame Street should be ashamed of itself. Get HR 3101 passed so another generation of deaf and hard of hearing kids does not have to miss out on Big Bird, Ernie, and Oscar online!
Friday, November 6, 2009
"There is a clear trend towards cable TV companies offering access to cable programming via the Internet. People can pay for a cable subscription, then view it on either Internet or regular TV. My question is, when the cable programming is shown on the Internet, are the captions shown too? In other words, do the line 21 captions carry through to the Internet?"
"Today, most TV video programming distributed over the Internet does not have closed captions. That's one of the reasons why we need to get H.R. 3101 passed. When passed, H.R. 3101 will ensure that broadcasters and "multichannel video programming distributors" (such as cable and satellite TV companies) will provide closed captions for the video programming they distribute over the Internet.How those closed captions will be transmitted over the Internet is a question best addressed by people with technical expertise. As I understand it, the caption codes transmitted for decoding and display on TVs (called "line 21 captions") need to be reconfigured when a program is distributed over the Internet. In other words, Internet caption technology is not the same as TV "line 21 caption" technology. There are many groups and people working to develop a standard for Internet captions. It also makes sense that this new standard for Internet captions will build on and take advantage of existing "line 21 captions," so the entire process of producing captions does not need to be repeated for TV programs redistributed over the Internet.The National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM at WGBH) spearheaded a group of Internet service providers to address Internet captioning. See http://ncam.wgbh.org/news/icf.html. Recently, the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) established a working group to create an industry standard for Internet captioning. See http://www.coataccess.org/node/3469. I have heard that the SMPTE standard may be established by the end of this year; they are very close to finishing. Also recently, NCAM at WGBH demonstrated that real-time captions for TV could be multi-purposed for a real-time simultaneous webcast. See http://www.coataccess.org/node/4895.What I do know is that Internet captioning is possible. That is a fact demonstrated every day on many websites -- even YouTube. Having a standard for Internet captioning will just make it easier for everyone in the chain of video programming -- from production to distribution -- to provide captions."
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
Let us welcome Guam Representative Madeleine Bordallo (D).
Now we have surpassed the total number of cosponsors for last year's failed bill! Last year's failed bill had only 15 cosponsors. This year's bill has 16 so far!
As said before, we still need Republicans.
Caption Action 2 still needs Republican cosponsors. This is another reason to contact your rep if he/she is Republican. Check the blogroll for Congressional staff contacts and how to find your representative including this post on instructions on how to find and write your representative.