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The deaf community’s frustration with Netflix may be going away, or at least subsiding for now. Netflix has enabled closed captioning for some TV episodes and movies that you can watch instantly on your PC or Mac, says Neil Hunt, Chief Product Officer at Netflix. Although it’s a limited library of content with subtitles available — about 100 titles, including most episodes of “Lost” Seasons 1-4 — Netflix now has released the technology and “will be working to fill in the library over time.” Currently, the captions only work on computers, including PCs and iPads. Netflix says it is working on captions for its game console, Blu-ray, and DTV platforms, which will roll out in releases starting this fall, along with support for 5.1 audio. Netflix offers a flat rate movie-delivery service but as more content is moving online, Netflix has been under pressure to use technology that will caption streaming TV ... keep reading »
Ah, video and search. Frank Sinatra said it best: Try, try, try to separate them – it’s an illusion. Here’s proof of that: Speech Technology. This week, Google sealed the deal on video search capabilities for its YouTube portal, saying it would provide auto-captions for all of its uploaded videos using proprietary Google’s Speech Technology. Google’s initiative, piloted in November, began with a handful of partner channels including PBS, Stanford University and National Geographic. It has now expanded to all uploaded English-speaking videos, with more languages to be added later this year. With this news, Google establishes itself as a frontrunner in the Internet programming space. As a company built on search, search, and more search, Google is now able to capitalize on its investment in speech-to-text technology to index videos, target advertising and create an actual profit margin for YouTube. In fact, video search is likely why Google acquired YouTube in ... keep reading »
On November 6 the FCC held a Field Hearing on Broadband Access for People with Disabilities at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. The hearing is one of many that will discuss ways to bring access to broadband to the nation’s 54 Americans with disabilities. The meeting included panelists from A.G. Bell, the American Foundation for the Blind, and the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology, a group that’s making a big push for a federal law that would require, among other innovations, closed-captions (for the deaf) and video descriptions (for the blind) for Internet TV and movies. Academy-Award winning actress Marlee Matlin also served as a panelist on behalf of the National Association of the Deaf. Federal Communications Commission Michael J. Copps spoke at the start of the meeting, and made it clear that the agency is working to make broadband access a reality for the disabled. Here are excerpts ... keep reading »
It didn’t mention Abledbody and I’m not really a Yankees fan, but I got a mention in today’s insightful New York Times article about Cory Macchiarola, the man who is behind the scenes captioning Yankees and Mets’ games for the deaf and hard of hearing. It’s a really tough job, I can imagine. Macchiarola began his career captioning Yankees games for TV in real-time. Not only did he capture the broadcasters’ play-by-play, he also translated live commentary from the sportscasters — some who talk a mile a minute; others who discuss “obscure movies with foreign names or unexpected topics like the fear of flutes (aulophobia).” After several grueling years with the Yankees, Macchiarola took a job at Citi Field to caption the comparatively easy public-address announcements at Mets’ games, which appear on the scoreboard. A lot of the text can be pre-programmed, including the lyrics for the Star Spangled Banner and Sweet ... keep reading »

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