While mainstream media still struggles to integrate diversity into programming, the internet offers a vastly different experience. People around the globe, of all backgrounds and abilities, are uploading original new content every day, smashing boring stereotypes and changing the way we view different cultures. With a larger number of deaf and hard of hearing people sharing their opinions, ideas, and even their jokes, wider audiences are opening up to the real experience of deafness and deaf communication.
Thanks to the web, the lines between deaf and hearing entertainment are beginning to blur. Because it is so easy to add captioning now, deaf video creators are sharing their blogs, their art, and their lives with audiences who they may not have been able to reach in the past. By making their videos accessible, deaf people have the opportunity to frame their own experiences and creatively express themselves without being filtered by hearing editors and producers.
Netflix's original series now have a superhero among them. Comic fans know Daredevil as a crusader. He's a Marvel character who, in addition to his superhuman abilities, has a very human disability: blindness.
Needless to say, Daredevil has quite a few fans with visual impairments — and they were looking forward to the show.
But until this week, Netflix had no plans to provide the audio assistance that could have helped those fans follow the show.
The FCC requires broadcasters to provide audio descriptions of many programs so blind people can enjoy TV along with everyone else.
But Netflix isn't a broadcaster — it's an Internet-based service. And they didn't plan to provide that audio.
In other words, the superhero would not have been able to enjoy his own program.
Robert Kingett, a journalist and activist in Chicago, is a fan of Daredevil. He's blind and also lives with cerebral palsy. And when he learned the show wouldn't have audio descriptions, Kingett recalls, "I said, 'Well, that's just utterly insane.' "
Youtube videos are not accessible to everyone, adding closed captions to videos will make them accessible to millions of more people. Share this video on social media, tag your favorite creator and help make your favorite videos enjoyable for everyone! #withcaptions
The Federal Communications Commission is considering whether to treat certain online video services the same way it treats cable and satellite TV providers.The move would help the online services get cheaper access to major network programming and could allow them to become stronger competitors to the dominant pay-TV providers like Comcast.
"This is a very big deal," said Richard Greenfield, an industry analyst for BTIG. "It could pose very significant challenges to the traditional [cable TV] bundle."
The FCC's Media Bureau is working on the proposal, which could be shared more broadly within the commission as early as this week, according to an FCC official.
Kim Hart, an FCC spokesman, declined to comment.
The proposal would apply only to online services that offer streams of prescheduled programming. So the rules wouldn't cover Netflix, which allows subscribers to watch videos whenever they want.
But it could revive the controversial online video service Aereo, which allowed subscribers to watch broadcast TV channels on their computers and Internet-connected TVs. The Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that Aereo was stealing the broadcasters' copyrighted content.
Imagine sitting down to watch an episode of Game of Thrones—and hardly being able to understand anything. That’s the case for non-native English speakers or any of the 36 million deaf or hard-of-hearing Americans. HBO doesn’t expect its viewers to have a knowledge of High Valyrian; that’s why it takes care to offer subtitles to viewers understand exactly how Daenerys intends to free the slaves of Essos.
If only most online streaming companies took as much care in everyday captioning.
Machine translation is responsible for much of today’s closed-captioning and subtitling of broadcast and online streaming video. It can’t register sarcasm, context, or word emphasis. It can’t capture the cacophonous sounds of multiple voices speaking at once, essential for understand the voice of an angry crowd of protestors or a cheering crowd. It just types what it registers. Imagine watching classic baseball comedy Major League and only hearing the sound of one fan shouting from the stands. Or only hearing every other line of lightning-fast dialogue when watching reruns of the now-classic sitcom 30 Rock.
As of April 30, streaming video companies are now required to provide closed captioning. On all programming. There’s no doubt that we’re in a better place than we were even five years ago, when streaming video companies weren’t required to closed-caption any of its content. But, there still is a long way to go in improving the accuracy of subtitles. Netflix and Amazon Prime users have bemoaned the quality of the streaming companies’ closed captions, citing nonsense words, transcription errors, and endless “fails.” These companies blame the studios for not wanting to pay for accurate translations but excuses aren’t flying with paying streaming video subscribers.\
People visit the South by Southwest Interactive conference for many reasons. Some want to promote the next great social media app, and some want to clue into that app before anyone else. Some come for the parties and swag, while others come to promote causes and concerns. Such was the case for "The Future of Access to Digital Broadcast Video," a first day panel that explained how the government is now mandating captions on much online video, and how publishers are rushing to meet the challenge.