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Google, Adobe Share Their Video Accessibility Strategies


JOSH: Hello, and welcome everyone to today’s webinar, where we’ll get a peek into the way Google and Adobe think about video accessibility. My name is Josh Miller. I’m one of the founders of 3Play Media, where we offer solutions for accessibility, user engagement, and video search through a more advanced transcription and captioning process.

We’re really excited to have two experts on video accessibility with us today, Andrew Kirkpatrick from Adobe and Naomi Black from Google. The collective technologies of Adobe and YouTube power the vast majority of web video today.

Andrew is a group product manager for accessibility at Adobe Systems. Andrew’s team defines Adobe’s overall product strategy for accessibility, and they work across Adobe’s entire product line. He and his team also work with customers in several standards groups, including the US Access Board’s Section 508 Advisory Committee and the W3C accessibility working groups.

Naomi is an engineering program manager for accessibility engineering at Google. Naomi works with engineering teams to help make the web and mobile devices more accessible for all. And she also works on captions for YouTube.

It’s worth noting that both Naomi and Andrew serve as members of the Video Programming Accessibility Advisory Committee, known as VPAAC. This is the committee that oversees all recommendations for implementing an as good or better captioning experience for television programming delivered over the web and all other streaming-based devices.

VPAAC was created by the FCC after the 21st Century Communications And Video Accessibility Act of 2010 was sworn into law by President Barack Obama. This is also referred to as the CVAA and was a major milestone in establishing accessibility policies aimed at web-based content.

Some quick administrative items. The hash tag for people following along on Twitter will be video accessibility, as you see on the screen. It’s spelled out as videoa11y, all one word. Please also feel free to type any questions during the webinar into your window, and we will address them at the end of the presentation.

I will also be posting a recorded version of this webinar on our website with captions and an interactive transcript. So in case you want to revisit any of the topics discussed, it will be there for you.


JOSH: So with that, we’re going to get started. We have one hour for this webinar. Naomi and Andrew will give us a joint presentation where they’ll discuss why captioning is a good idea, go over the CVAA, as well as some Adobe and Google-specific technology updates.

We’ll then follow that with audience questions for however much time there is remaining. So we’ll now pass control over to Andrew, who is going to start us off.

Why Caption?

ANDREW: The first topic that we wanted to just spend a couple minutes on is just in response to the question, why do we need to deliver captions? And unfortunately, too often the answer is in reverse order to the order of bullets on this slide.

But really, the first reason needs to be the users that benefit from the presence of captions. There are approximately 48 million deaf and hard of hearing users in the US. And this relates probably to about 15% of your visitors, assuming equal distribution across the population.

Captions, in addition to providing essential access for deaf and hard of hearing users, also enable companies to do searching so that there’s indexing of videos that is very accurate for when caption data is used because it’s precise with what’s being spoken.

It also benefits people who speak English as a second language. And occasionally, people may find that when they’ve missed The Daily Show at night and they want to watch it during the day, the captions that are present there, that are offered via MTV on The Daily Show, can be enabled. And you can quietly, without disturbing your colleagues, catch up on what you missed last night.

The final reason on this slide is the legislation. There’s the CVAA, which was just mentioned. There’s also Section 508, which applies to US federal government, and many education institutions, and states where closed captioning is required.

And there’s other legislation, as well, that is applied. There was a recent lawsuit that was filed against a video provider in California, which was based on the Americans With Disabilities Act in California. So there are good reasons to pay attention to captioning, which should, for everyone, start with enabling access for the end users.

21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act Compliance (CVAA) Updates

ANDREW: For the CVAA, which is one of the reasons that captioning and video accessibility is a big topic now, the CVAA enabled the FCC to issue a new regulation for closed captioning. This was issued in early January for a new report and order. It has not yet been officially published in the Federal Register, so all the dates that are mentioned on this slide flow from the date that it finally does get put into the Federal Register, which we expect to be shortly. But we don’t know exactly when that will be.

But basically, any video content that was broadcast over the television, when it is shown online without any editing, there’s going to be a six-month deadline, whereupon after that date the captions will need to be present. So if it was captioned on TV, it’s going to need to be captioned online or via internet delivery mechanisms for any of that video content.

If the content is edited, the deadline is going to be 12 months after the Federal Register posting. For live content, 18 months. And then archived content, which is content that’s already online and doesn’t have captions, there’s going to be two years from that date.

So we expect that these dates are going to impact the fall programming for major broadcasters. But as I said, it all depends on when that rule actually gets published in the Federal Register.

One of the things that is not very well understood in terms of what is in the report and order is about controls for users. And there’s an interesting comparison to make here between platform versus application management of this type of control.

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