Google, Adobe on Video Accessibility Webinar – Bonus Q&A

March 19, 2012 BY TOLE KHESIN
Updated: December 6, 2021

Google Adobe Video Accessibility Strategies - Bonus Questions

Last Thursday, March 15, we were fortunate enough to have two experts from Google and Adobe join us for a webinar to discuss video accessibility. Andrew Kirkpatrick from Adobe Systems and Naomi Black from Google discussed the latest technologies and tools available to web publishers, as well as the impact of HTML5, mobile devices, and upcoming legislative changes impacting access to video.

Unfortunately there was not enough time to address all of the audience questions during the webinar. However, Andrew and Naomi were kind enough to answer many of the questions after the webinar. Below are answers to questions that were not addressed during the webinar.

Watch the webinar
Slide presentation

Which 3 Languages does YouTube Speech Recognition Support?

[Naomi] Auto-timing and auto-captions are available for videos with audio in English, Japanese, and Korean.

How accessible are the players themselves (the controls, etc.)?

[Naomi] You should be able to get to the video player with a screen reader that supports Flash. If you’re not using a screen reader, you will need to click (or otherwise activate) the player on the page. Once you do this, you can use the keyboard to control the video player. See for more detail on both of these.

[Andrew] The accessibility of controls for a Flash-based player will depend on the developer. If the developer follows best practices for Flash accessibility the UI will be keyboard accessible cross-platform and screen reader/magnifier accessible on Windows. Developers might also choose to offer the controls in HTML and use the JavaScript bridge to send commands to the player window, which is a more cross-platform accessible strategy. The developer of a Flash based video player needs to implement support for tabbing between HTML and Flash content. There is a techniques at the W3C which addresses this that you could point developers to:

Does the feature for moving the caption and adjusting caption font work in all browsers or only Chrome?

[Naomi] It works in all desktop browsers that support HTML5 or Adobe Flash (AS3).

Can we use the auto translate feature on YouTube as a way to create caption files that we can use on our own videos or on other services? Is there a way to export the captions?

[Naomi] Yes, the owner of the video can download the captions (including translation, and automatic captions). You can do this on under Captions and Subtitles, or by using the YouTube API.

You should show the interactive transcript – that is also a cool new YouTube feature that captions enable.

[Naomi] There’s a support page here that explains how viewers can look at the whole transcript for any captioned video:

What if we have created a captioning file (through Quicktime or through a third-party), and that file has all the time coding, etc. Can that file be uploaded into the current YouTube system?

[Naomi] If it’s in a format that YouTube supports, it should just work. Try it! If it doesn’t work, there are some helpful converters available. 3Play Media have a pretty handy one:

When is Google going to make captions available to third-party video players (for people who want to embed a YouTube video but don’t own the video)?

[Naomi] If the video has captions, and you embed it in a website, you’ll be able to play it with captions. If the video isn’t captioned, we recommend that you contact the owner of the video and explain the importance of captioning to make their video accessible! There are some other approaches you can look into with the permission of the owner — 3Play Media makes a captions plug-in, for example, that you can use in a web page.

Does YouTube import the SMPTE-TT safe harbour?

[Naomi] Not today, but mainly because we haven’t actually seen any of our partners using it to deliver captions. The same is true of WebVTT. YouTube already support formats like SCC, CAP, and STL, which are commonly used for CEA-608 captions in DVD and broadcast. As long as a format provides captions that are equivalent on playback in YouTube to what consumers see on TV, the CVAA doesn’t mandate any particular choice of format. That said, it’s likely that we’ll add support for more formats in future.

Can you please go back and show/talk about the Beta Audio Transcribe in YouTube? Is that actually creating a caption file? Is that file editable?

[Naomi] Sorry we didn’t have time to get to this. This video provides more information: The owner of the video can also download the automatic captions and edit them, then upload them to YouTube. The file we provide is just a text file with time information.

When the voice recognition was first implemented across YouTube, it was defaulted to “on”. A few months later this was changed. Folks who are working with the deaf, late-deafened, and hard-of-hearing have found a huge drop in how many people know about and use the YouTube tools because of this. Is there any likelihood that this decision will be reversed?

[Naomi] We’ve since added a checkbox under Settings > Playback Setup that lets you turn automatic captions (and regular captions) on all the time. This means that if you’re logged into YouTube, we’ll remember your preference and always show captions (if we can). We did previously have closed captions “on” by default, but that was only for captions added by the owner, never for anything machine generated. The video owner can also set the captions to always be on — unless the viewer chooses to turn them off.

Will this be a requirement for teachers creating videos of their lessons and posting them online for students?

[Andrew] The CVAA doesn’t cover non-broadcast video. Education content is generally covered by Section 504, which doesn’t necessarily require captioning as the means to delivering access (e.g. you could hire a signing interpreter to follow a deaf or hard of hearing student around and interpret video content as needed and this would meet 504 – obviously not a scalable solution). Captioning makes the most sense in my opinion, for some of the other reasons we cited such as searchability.

Does the legislation apply equally to online content and broadcast content?

[Andrew] For captioning, the CVAA applies to online content which was also broadcast. The CVAA doesn’t apply to web-only videos unless they are comprised of edited broadcast content. However, other rules, such as Section 508 apply to both.

Where can I find more information about the changes in legislation, and know when it will be in effect?

Does Captivate allow you to provide captions for .swf files or avatars?

[Andrew] Captivate captioning is for “slides”, so anything within the slides could have captions applied to it. See for some additional information.

I have many open-captioned videos on YouTube. Does CVAA require me to add closed captions to those so there is user functionality?

[Andrew] Not until you broadcast the content on television, but then, yes.

Is this SMPTETT-SXSW-Demo example available in the OSMF repository?

[Andrew] No, not yet. I plan to post the demo and source and will indicate when that happens (likely next week) on the AdobeAccess twitter account and blog (

For Adobe, can you discuss captioning for live Flash streaming? Is there a standard for encoders to extract captioning data from baseband and insert into metadata for display in OSMF or other Flash players?

[Andrew] Live captioning is still an area that we need to do work on. There are issues with regard to a streaming format but there are discussions on the TTML/SMPTE working group which should help clarify requirements.

Is the Open Source Media Framework a tool for media player developers or is it for content/web developers? or both…?

[Andrew] OSMF can be used by anyone, but it is more developer friendly rather than content producer friendly.

Is there an export function from premiere to the SMPTE-TT format OSMF uses? If not where is the 3rd party SDK?

[Andrew] Not at present. MacCaption supports SMPTE-TT export.

Is Adobe planning to enhance the ability to export to HTML5 from Flash , Adobe Captivate, etc?

[Andrew] Supporting HTML5 is a very important aspect of a variety of tools. For example:

Adobe Captivate – what is the caption format/export?

[Andrew] A custom flat text file. In my experience people rely on the built-in captioning tool.

How much extra bandwith is taken up with customisable captions? Can you produce a plain pack version – we have government guidelines (for govt sites) about this in New Zealand.

[Andrew] The caption data is no larger, the change is in the logic of the tool that renders that data.

Will there be a multi-language caption plugin example in the OSMF repository?

[Andrew] There should be, I’ll check into that.

will the OSMF player replace the FLVPlayback and FLVCaption components in Flash Professional?

[Andrew] I don’t have a firm answer for that question, sorry.

We’re a community college and I feel obligated to caption videos but we don’t have the hand power…and video is an important tool in instruction.

[Andrew] That’s a hard spot to be in. There is work going on to try to make automatic captions more accurate and cheaper, but right now good captions cost time or money.

Has anyone developed a control for using the caption to control the video. For young folks with reading difficulties, the captions often move along a little too quickly. Would be great to click to move the video ahead by each caption. Might, then also, want to control the amount of text in each caption. Thanks.

[Andrew] That’s a great point and I haven’t thought about that. Noted!

Where can I obtain the full specs for the SMPTE-TT file format?

[Andrew] (free)

Can you embed closed captions for HLS delivery on iOS devices? I know it works for iTunes but what about streaming?

[Andrew] I believe that it is the same process for HLS streaming since the iOS video player looks for and renders the embedded 608 data.

Does google have any plans to offer the speech recognition/transcript sync tools outside of YouTube? It would be helpful for audio files or internal captioning projects.

[Andrew] This functionality is in Adobe Premiere CS 5.5

Do audio descriptions need to be captioned? (Should they be captioned or would that be “noise” for the caption user)?

[Andrew] No, audio descriptions do not need to be captioned. However providing a text version of the captioning and audio description content is useful for users who are deaf and blind.

How about captions for Adobe Connect?

[Andrew] Connect supports real time captioning. Check out the accessibility blog at

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