2006 Conference General Sessions




Larry Goldberg
WGBH National Center for Accessible Media
125 Western Avenue
Boston MA 02134

Day Phone: 617-300-3722
Email: larry_goldberg@wgbh.org

Presenter #2
Jennifer Sagalyn
WGBH National Center
for Accessible Media
125 Western Avenue
Boston MA 02134
Day Phone: 617-300-2454
Email: jennifer_sagalyn@wgbh.org

Broadband technologies are increasing the availability of video, audio and animation on the Web. This presentation will demonstrate new solutions for creating and transforming analog caption files into usable formats for the web.

Growth of broadband
Broadband technologies (high-speed, always-on Internet service) allow Web sites to make more pervasive use of rich media — video, audio, graphics and animation. Many media companies' Web sites are designed with the assumption that broadband access will soon become commonplace, both at work and at home. A survey conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project in May 2005 found that an estimated 66 million adult Americans already have high-speed connections at home. Nielsen/NetRatings notes that broadband penetration in the U.S. has surged pass the 50% mark, driven in large measure by the desire to access multimedia. Geoff Ralston, chief product officer at Yahoo, envisions a near-term future where "the Internet will disappear and become everywhere. It will be a part of our lives, part of us part of the fabric of most of the things we do."

Television, home video and DVDs are the traditional forms of media that now provide closed captions for deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences. Captions for these forms of media are created by encoding data into the vertical blanking interval of the television signal. Even DVD authoring programs are currently making use of standard caption formats. One of the greatest challenges facing the industry is the need for authoring tools and utilities that can create or display caption data for the growing number of technologies on the Web that include audio. Web conferencing software, traditional television programming digitized for the Web, and audio-enabled Flash animations are three examples of technologies that require captions in order to be accessible to deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences.

This paper will discuss in detail the solutions that are helping move captions onto the Web to provide access to audio content.

CaptionKeeper and Caption Component for Macromedia Breeze (Web Conferencing)
In 2005, NCAM created a caption extension for Macromedia's Breeze software. The extension allows for the real-time captioning of a live meeting. A stenocaptioner connects to a caption server (NCAM's Caption Keeper software installed on the stenographer's PC), which operates as a caption source for the captioning extension. This presentation will include a live demonstration of a Breeze meeting with real-time captions.

Web conferencing is an excellent example of a web-based technology that cannot take advantage of existing captioning methods, but instead need to invest in the development of an application-specific solution. Breeze is a Flash-based application, therefore a Flash extension was developed to transmit captions to all Breeze meeting participants.

Television content moving onto the Web
NCAM is working with two of the nation’s most popular broadband sites — AOL and Yahoo! — to deploy and document the use of caption authoring tools and caption conversion utilities within their sites. We are also providing AOL and Yahoo! with private grant-funded caption services, matched by their own financial contributions, to "prime the pump” of captioned material on their sites.

CaptionKeeper, MAGpie, and Caption Flash are all being utilized to develop new methods of captioning that fit "IPTV" production and distribution models.

NCAM is documenting the process and our partners' experiences, and will create a White Paper in the spring of 2005 that details challenges faced by broadband providers in offering captioned content. This White Paper will help frame a national discussion on how best to foster the development and maintenance of accessible content on media-rich Internet sites. Funding for this initiative provided by the NEC Foundation.

Caption Flash
NCAM has developed a new captioning tool, Caption Flash, which will automatically convert captions to display within Macromedia’s popular Flash format. Currently, the captioning solution for Flash presentations requires an awkward and time-consuming manual entry process. Consequently, there is very little accessible Flash content on the Web. This is a serious and growing problem because Flash software is a favorite of designers and developers worldwide. These designers use Flash to integrate video, text, audio, and graphics into rich visual experiences on Web sites serving every imaginable market. Flash presentations are so pervasive that the Flash Player is installed on more than 97% of all Internet-enabled computers as well as on a wide range of handheld devices. The Caption Flash tool, which works in Flash MX 2004, imports data from timed-text files, such as MAGpie project files, and automatically imports the caption and timing data onto the Flash timeline. so that captioning is included as part of the Flash file. This method of integrating the data with the Flash file will allow for perfect synchronization, control and display of the captions.

Video Search: Timing your transcript for indexing and to increase your audience
With NCAM's free tool MAGpie, video content authors can easily create caption data from existing transcripts. MAGpie 2.01 is a tool for creating closed captions and audio (video) descriptions. Authors can add captions and audio descriptions to QuickTime, Real, or Windows Media Player. MAGpie is the ideal authoring environment for multimedia specialists, publishing companies or service providers who want to add captions, subtitles and audio descriptions to their work. According to Google's Video website, "Google Video will search the closed captioning and text descriptions of all the videos in our archive for relevant results."

Go to previous article
Go to next article
Return to 2006 Table of Contents

Reprinted with author(s) permission. Author(s) retain copyright