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profoundly yours the abledbody blog

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 »
I didn’t get to too many workshops at the Assistive Technology Industry Association conference this year, because I only attended for one full day. I did stop into a presentation on speech-recognition for the deaf, led by Ed Rosenthal, CEO of Next Generation Technologies, a consulting firm. Rosenthal is a certified partner, and been working for 20 years, with Nuance Communications Dragon NaturallySpeaking software, and says that the technology had its first real breakthrough about three years ago when it debuted its latest version — 10 Preferred ($199). Now, Rosenthal says, he believes the speech-to-text program works well enough to be used as a real-time captioning tool for the deaf in the workplace. The Dragon program is said to work “three times faster than most people type, with accuracy rates of up to 99% right out of the box.” In a demonstration, Rosenthal opened up a Word document and began speaking (into a ... 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 »
I just read that a group of Washington state residents have filed a lawsuit to force movie theaters to make closed-captioned movies available more frequently to the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Another suit, another settlement, I suppose. But it’s good to keep momentum going on this issue. Since movies became “talkies” 50 years ago, film companies and movie chains have been keeping the hearing and sight impaired from enjoying one of America’s biggest forms of entertainment. I wrote about this issue in 2001 for BusinessWeek. Eight years ago, movie theaters, backed by the Motion Picture Association of America, said they were reluctant to spend money to burn open captions onto films, especially if the technology became “obsolete”. Well, the digital age has arrived, so that argument doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s very cost-effective to embed caption data, and to that end, audio descriptive data, into digital film. It’s just ... keep reading »
This just in from Webware: “In a move to make videos easier to understand without volume or for the hard of hearing, YouTube has given users the option of embedding closed captions.” This is great news for the deaf and hard of hearing; YouTube has 34% market share according to ComScore, and I’m betting this figure doesn’t include much of the deaf population. And this might not change if video makers don’t choose to add captions to their videos – I’m guessing not many will, unless they understand the added benefit of captions for those with disabilities, or even non-English speakers. There are a small handful of content providers already including closed captioning in their videos, including CNET, MIT, and the BBC. It would be great if broadcast networks (ABC, Fox, etc.) would do the same. Do we really need more regulations to make this happen? Just do the right thing! Now ... keep reading »

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