Good afternoon, everybody. This is Norm Coombs. Usually, for me, it's morning, so we're all here in the afternoon. And sorry, I have another mistake. I should have checked to see if it was there in the beginning, and I assume everything fell into place. But that's happened to me okays before. I can't understand it. Anyhow, no reason to bother you all with that. We've got four series, three Tuesday and Monday. So next week will be November 1. The following week will be November 8, Election Day. It will all be over. And the 8th will be. And then instead of the Tuesday the 15th, we've got Monday the 14th.
Okay. Welcome to Chase as our captionist, and I'll turn it over to Susanne, make sure you've got follow me on, Susanne, and we should be in business I hope.
Okay. Give me just a jiffy. I have to adjust one little thing on my end now.
Okay. First, I would like to welcome everyone and thank you for your patience. I appreciate you coming back if you tried prior to our little storm escapade here in North Carolina. I think in my area we fared pretty well. There were those who were in lower lying areas who did not, and they're still struggling with that, but we're up and running here and going strong.
So I want to thank each of you for coming today. Most of all because it represents how important accessibility is to you. And whether you're a newbie or an experienced captioner just looking for some new tips and tricks and resources, I think the fact that we are all moving forward in that direction is fantastic. And each of you, I commend for your efforts, and it's certainly a pleasure to be a part of such a positive community. Especially in these not always so positive times.
Working with my accessibility friends is one of the high points of the things that I do, and I'm very glad, and I feel privileged to be here with you today.
This is the first in the series of presentations that we're going to do about captioning and then about audio description. And this week, we're going to go over a lot of things, introduce a lot of basic terms and technologies. And then next week, we're going to go in great detail about captioning with YouTube. I'm really, really excited about that because I've seen it evolve, and it's really gotten to be a great tool as far as facilitating accessibility. And then after that, we're going to go in‑depth with some of the tools and techniques that we just mentioned today. And then we'll be talking about audio description. Resources to add that are a lot easier than you might think, and there's some great, free tools out there that we'll be discussing in the future.
But today, let's get started talking about captioning. And I'm trying to monitor both my screen and the chat. I'll try to answer questions at the end, and I will ‑‑ if anybody has any problem, if you can't hear me, or if you can't see the slides moving, please post right away in the chat, and we'll address that as quickly as possible. Hopefully, we're through all of that.
I'm Susanne, Mistrik, and I'm the self proclaimed captioning fairy godmother, because I like to give you resources so that your captioning experience will be a little bit magical. Captions and audio descriptions open doors for the differently able to. They're an important contribution to all of our ‑‑ all of us in the digital community and with all that we have available in 2016, even if you are just starting out, or if you're on a tight budget, you can make our world more accessible, and I say that you can have a lot of fun doing it.
I had a lot of fun with this, I actually presented at a state conference dressed as the captioning fairy godmother and proud of it, so I always include that in my introduction.
These dates we've of course adjusted, and I sort of gave you the overview of what we're going to be talking about in the other three presentations, and I hope you'll join us for this as well.
Okay. Captioning and transcription. Things we're going to talk about on terminology, guidelines, and introduction to transcription in a brief introduction to captioning.
Okay. Captioning and transcription technology. First and foremost. Let's talk about captions. Captions are a text representation of multimedia audio content presented in the same language as the spoken word. Captions are the synchronous display of the audio as text on the video screen. That's the technical definition of captions.
Now, there are two types of captions. We have closed captions, and they're stored in a separate caption format file that contains information that allows the words to align with the progress in time or in frames of the video. Close captions can be controlled by the user, and that's what we always want to aim towards that. They can be turned off and turned on. And often, the background font, size, and color of the captions, adjusted by the user. And the more control the user has, the more ideal it is for the accessibility experience.
Open captions. Open captions are the text captions burned into the video itself still aligned with the progress of the video, but they're no longer a separate text file. They actually become part of the video image. And there are definitely reasons to use open captions. I'll give you a quick example. Twice a year I caption the graduation in our community college, a graduation video that's played during the ceremony because I don't want to take a chance that whoever's handling the video can't find how to turn on the captions. I burn the captions, open captions into the video, so they automatically play as this video loops throughout the beginning of the ceremony. And so although open captions in many cases are not desired, it's good to know how to do that and good to have some open caption resources because there are times when you'll want to include that as part of your workflow, and it can often solve a lot of problems.
Realtime captions. And I think you're probably seeing an example of realtime captioning right now. I don't have them up on my screen. But they're also called live captions. Realtime captions are created as a live event takes place. They're often transcribed on a special phonetic keyboard in a manner similar to court reporting.
Almost instantly, the phonetic symbols are translated by a computer and displayed. Realtime captions are used in unscripted situations, such as news broadcasts, lectures, commentary of sporting events, congressional meetings, and of course debates.
Subtitles. Now, let's think about the difference. Oftentimes, they're used interchangeably and, in fact, it's my understanding that in the UK, they are used interchangeably. But here, there is a difference. Captions as we said are generally in the language that is being used on the screen, and they convey not just the conversation, the words, but also in any other audio information going on. Subtitles are a text representation in a language different than the spoken word. And audio content may or may not be included.
We're seeing more and more often that subtitles do include audio content. And we can look for particular subtitles for the deaf and hard‑of‑hearing.
And I found that there didn't appear to be a standard icon, so I made my own to sort of represent the fact that they provide the same information as captions, but the technology is different. Current captioning formats are not compatible with HDMI and Blu‑ray, so the current fix is SDH or subtitles for the deaf and hard‑of‑hearing. So it's sort of a hack to get us by until existing methods become universal. And I'm confident that it will happen soon as fast as the technology seems to be evolving across the board.
Okay. Now we're going to talk about transcripts a little bit. Scripts is simply the text‑based version of all of the audio information in the multimedia. It's necessary to have a transcript to create captions. Different people's transcripts may look different. I've represented in this image two different types of transcripts. One that's just a simple text document the way that I would like for it to appear in the captions spaced ‑‑ the word spaced as I would like them to appear in the captions. And then another type of transcript is simply the text that's spoken on the screen formatted more like a document than ‑‑ formatted more like a document than anything else.
I'm just going to stop and make a quick check. I can hear myself in my other ear bud, but would someone confirm that everything's going through? That everyone's seeing and hearing what they're supposed to see and hear?
Fantastic. Okay. That's good news. I didn't run a chance I kept on running if there was a problem.
Now, let's talk about captioning formats. This can be a little bit overwhelming. So at this level, we'll just say that there are a lot of them. But if you are a captioning newbie, the only one you really need to know about is SRT because that's the format used on YouTube and web VTT, which is generally the format that we're using now with HTML5. There are some variations, but just ‑‑ that's just a brief overview. There are many, many different types, and we'll talk about that in more detail the third week of our session.
In this next screen, I've given examples of several of the different formats to represent the fact that they're all pretty much conveying the same information, but they represent the time frames just a little bit differently. Just the same as we speak different languages, different formats have different ways of conveying the information. In this particular screen, I'm showing the YouTube text type, which is pretty much a transcript. The SRT file that YouTube recognizes. The Web VTT HTML5 format. And then my old nemesis, the XML captioning format. There are tools if you receive a transcript in a format, and it's not the format that you need, never fear. I'm going to introduce ‑‑ I'll mention them today, and then introduce how to use them. There are very easy ways now to convert one format to another. And we'll do some demonstrations, and I'll give you lots of information about the tools that you'll be able to do that.
I'm sorry. I got ahead of myself a little bit. I told you about that.
So my accessibility adventure began in 2007. I was working in a little co‑op job at the community college while I had gone back to school to study web technology and graphic design. And I saw the need to caption a video. It seemed to me that that needed to be done, and I researched, and I found that the way I needed to do it for the type of video I had was in XML, which is probably one of the most persnickety of the programming formats that there are, and you had to add the time stamp and just play around with it to get it right. And then you had to add the text and the code. And if you made the slightest mistake with your numbers, with your periods, with your semicolons, the whole thing didn't work. So we've come a long way from the old days. It was really impossible for someone without quite a bit of technical experience and challenging for those who had technical experience to do. So it's great that we've come so far. Really in nine short years, we've come a really long way.
Now, first I'd like to mention web‑based transcription and captioning. What does that mean? Tools like YouTube and Amara, which started out as universal subtitles are tools that allow you to caption videos that are available on the web in some way and the manner is limited. But you can either caption your own videos or pull a link into a video from another tool that allows you to add captions to it. And, yes, there's questions about pulling videos into other tools that we're going to address in a moment here. But web‑based transcription and captioning includes tools like YouTube and Amara. There were a few others early on, but these are the two primary tools now because they're universal, and they're used not just for captioning but also for subtitling things in multiple languages.
Now we're going to talk just briefly about captioning and transcription guidelines.
So what are the benefits of captioning? Captioning provides equivalent access. It provides alternative access. Captioning can aid comprehension. In many cases, it's been found that captioning aids concentration, that's definitely true in my own case. And caption video is easier to search. So if you're trying to promote something using video, a captioning video is much more search engine friendly than a video that is not captioned because a search engine acts as a text‑based information and can locate you that way, which ‑‑
Testing, one, two, three. All right. I had bad reception ‑‑ voice reception message, and I clicked around a bit, and it came back. At least I know what to look for now.
Okay. Captioning requirements. Section 508 of the rehabilitation in the United States and the 21st century communications in video accessibility act of 2008 and 2009 sort of guide us towards what our captioning rules are, and I'm not going to go into these in detail. If you would like to reference the specific rules as they are now, these are great things to look at. And I understand in Canada, it's AODA, accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities act of 2005 and the integrated accessibility standards regulation of 2011. And then in the UK, the quality act of 2010. And for the most part, captioning is required at the most basic level. Equivalent alternatives for any multimedia presentation shall be synchronized with the presentation, such as captions, that's according to section 508 of the rehabilitation act, all training and information video and multimedia productions will support the agency's mission regardless of the format that contains speech and audio necessary for the comprehension of the content shall be open or closed‑caption. And even though our instruction ‑‑ our guidelines in the United States are somewhat vague because Americans with Disabilities Act was designed before the Internet blossomed into what it is today, we have ‑‑ we have seen through the rulings that come through the department of justice that it is being enforced that the Internet is included under the umbrella of the American disabilities act, even though it is not mentioned specifically. And hopefully, they've been promising that for a long time now. Hopefully it will change before too long.
So that the guidelines are much more specific because even amongst ourselves in the community college system in North Carolina, we still go back and forth of what should we do? What has to be done? And often, we're on ‑‑ I wouldn't say different sides of the fence, but we have different opinions, and it would be much better for there to be guidelines so that there's no gray area. And that it would be proactive after the fact there's a lawsuit, oh, they enforce this, this should fall down upon us. But hopefully, it will be more proactive in the future, and we believe it's going in that direction.
Okay. Let's talk about permissioned caption because this is ‑‑ this is one of the areas under which we have to use our own judgment. I've done a lot of research here, and I know what I feel comfortable with and what I feel comfortable sharing. But this is a situation where you have to ‑‑ depending on what your personal situation is, working with college, whether you're working in ‑‑ with disability services, or whether you're working with instructors creating accessible content, you have to look at your specific situation and as far as permissioning captioning goes, you have to make that judgment. Do you need to ask permission? Yes. Because even though a lot of people feel like this falls under their use, it really ‑‑ captions really do alter the material ‑‑ and I think the line that we have to draw is are you captioning for accommodation? Or are you captioning for accessibility? Because of course across the board the most important thing is that a person that needs captions, that needs that format gets it. So if you're captioning for accommodation, for an individual who has a disability, then I'm comfortable with the guidelines that you ask permission. And once you've asked permission if you don't have a response within two weeks, that's a "yes." so you caption so that ‑‑ so you can caption for that specific situation. Now, that doesn't mean once you've captioning the video that the instructor, for example, puts it in a class that it can stay in that class forever. Because you've used a certain set of guidelines to caption for accommodation. It's my feeling that when captioning for accessibility and that's, for example, when an instructor creates a new course, and they're going to include videos in the course, we need to include captioned videos.
If that means getting permission to caption them ourselves, finding different videos that are already captioning, or buying publisher ‑‑ from publishers who provide captioning videos or purchasing newer versions that are already captioning. I feel those are the solutions that we need to look towards, rather than captioning for accessibility and that's for something that's permanently going to go into a course that's not for a specific individual that needs an accommodation, but something that's going to go into a course, we look at that from a bit of a different perspective than we look at ‑‑ than we look at accommodation.
Fair use law allows instructors or institutions to copy and distribute certain copyrighted materials for educational purposes with limits on the portion of the total work that may be copied. And how long it can be auto in use. It does not allow users to change the materials format or alter its content, meaning, for example, that you can't take a VHS tape and convert it to a digital format. And most importantly, captions can't be added without permission of the copyright and owner. That came from an association that provides resources for the deaf and those who work with the deaf. They've lightened going back to links that I provided in the past don't work and in searching for the new links, I see that they've lightened their stance on that, I think for fear that someone would opt to not caption it all. But it just needs to be very clear that in this case of accommodation, you can use one set of solutions. And when you're captioning for accessibility, I believe you have the different set of solutions that you need to go with.
And for the most part, most people are great about ‑‑ if you can contact someone through, say, for example, in a YouTube video that's not captioned, we've had really good luck with having people respond "yes." Publishers, not so much. They want you to buy newer versions of things, and that can be expected. So it's a little bit of a slurpie slope in some cases. But the most important is that we provide accessible content to people who need it.
So moving on from that one because that's one that we can talk about in great detail for a long time. How can you ask permission? There are a few ways that you can search on YouTube. On this slide, I've provided an example ‑‑ I used my own example in YouTube. Let's say there's a YouTube video that I really wanted to use in class, it was the only one, and it perfectly met my needs, but it wasn't captioned, you would go to and click subscribe on the channel home page of the YouTube video owner ‑‑ and I'm going to go through this a little bit slow because this is something that most people don't know. And if you want to jot it down, I'll try to say it slowly enough so that you can do that. Because it's really not that hard but it's ‑‑ you're probably ‑‑ it's not user friendly, you're probably not going to lo indicate it on your own. Click subscribe on the channel home page of the YouTube video owner. And then in the same panel, a bit below it and to the left, you're going to click about. And on the page that opens after that, on the bottom ‑‑ it's in ‑‑ on the lowest end of that page ‑‑ I believe that it's sort of in the middle of the full page, you're going to click on the Google Plus link and then Google Plus will open. And Google Plus ‑‑ you're going to click about again. And that would come up in a links list. You can see it. It's on the bottom right of the banner of the Google Plus page. If you're lucky, that's where you're going to find the content creator's contact information. So in many cases, this is where it will be. Once you find their contact information, I think that's two‑thirds of the battle.
So we've been really successful with this process when we could locate the contact information. Sometimes it's not there. If it's an individual, sometimes it isn't there. If it's a school, if it's a larger organization or group, usually it is there because they're trying to promote themselves, and it's usually even easier to find than this. But this is a good method to try if you really want to get permission to caption from somebody on YouTube.
I'm really excited about all that YouTube is doing lately. I don't know if y'all have noticed, but ‑‑
Uploading videos. This is one of the things that I discovered in the middle of the night and did a happy dance in my office because it just appeared, and I wasn't expecting it. In the videos section when you go to advanced settings on the right side, you'll see something called community contributions. And it's an option that you can check to allow viewers to contribute translated titles, description, people have asked to have caption, I'm sure there are some people doing that. But a great way to use this ‑‑ oops. Gone again? Am I back? Okay. I didn't ‑‑ how long was I gone? All right. I'll try to ‑‑ oops. Let me see. I'm watching my good voice reception, so I'm keeping my eye on it. It seems it goes out, when it goes out, it says bad voice reception, so I'll try to keep one eye pinned on that.
Anyway, a suggestion I would have if you upload a lot of YouTube videos and if you're working with the college and your instructors do, you can ask ‑‑ oh, okay. And that might be the case. I have ‑‑ I live out in the country, and I have slow Internet, so it may be that once in a while, it does get backed up. That really does make sense. But I try to keep an eye on it. And if it goes to bad, I'll try to wait and then repeat what I've said.
Community contribution, what it says in YouTube is this is quote this let's YouTube users contribute translations to your videos and captions so you ‑‑
Okay. I went in and out for a minute there and now my slides have disappeared. Okay. Still no sounds. Now, mine says give voice testing one, two, three, can you hear me? Can you hear me now?
All right. Slides are back and can you hear me now? Great. All right.
Sorry about that. I have a feeling it's the one down thing of country living.
Okay. So take a look, we'll keep an eye on how this evolves. I really haven't done a whole lot with it. It just appeared a couple of weeks ago, and I haven't really had time to get out there and play with it. But just like when the cams feature began to appear in YouTube, this is very promising because I think they recognize that if they open captioning up to crowd sourcing on YouTube, that will enable a lot more accessibility across the board. Of course, you do have to put some quality control constraints on that, but this does allow you to oversee whatever you add.
So it's a neat new added feature. I've got a lot more cool things I'm looking forward to show you about what you can do with YouTube next week.
Now, let's talk a little bit about transcription guidelines. Just the basic. The go to transcript guidelines Bible is the describing caption media program, the DCMP sets the standard for the formatting of text for captions. Basically, all relevant sounds should be included, along with the dialogue. Avoid using all caps in most situations. Now, in some cases, it's unavoidable. We do see ‑‑ especially in realtime captioning, we do see all caps, and I don't have a problem with that in that scenario. I do try to avoid it when I'm captioning videos that are not realtime.
You want to check for accuracy, grammar, and spelling as best you can. And, you know, at one time, YouTube's auto transcribe was so terrible that it was often almost offensive. But I am thrilled lately with the improvement and accuracy. Now, a lot of that has to do with the fact that I'm aware ‑‑ and I am careful about the quality of audio, and we'll talk some more about that next week specifically when we talk about YouTube. But it's like everything else. Garbage in, garbage out. But I'll be showing you a couple of examples of videos I've uploaded recently that were 85 to 87% accurate out of the gate. And one really surprised me because I recorded it in a room that has lead background noise, and I needed to get it up in a hurry, so I didn't have time to play around with that. But it's definitely garbage in, garbage out. And we're going to talk about some ways to help your captioning process by improving the quality of audio transcripts as a starting point in the beginning. No matter how you proceed with your process, that can be a good starting point.
Guidelines for captioning. The Web content accessibility guidelines 2.0, which is child ‑‑ the World Wide Web consortium, and they have guidelines posted on the web accessibility ‑‑ the WIA or web accessibility initiative corner of ‑‑ of the W3C website. Very specific details on how to do all kinds of accessibility. But even lots of advice about captioning. I don't think there's anything better than DCMP captioning team. And you can't expect to start out and hearing to every single one of the DCMP captioning guidelines, but they're a good starting point. They're a good reference if you say do I do it this way? Or do I do it that way, and you need a definitive answer. Almost every definitive answer is in that captioning key. You can print out a one‑page cut and dry of it. I've got a little brochure handout that I just sort of consolidated some of the key points, giving them credit. And then I hand out that I will provide for you. But that's a great place to start because you really do need to make sure that you have a style guide of sorts. You're going to get better as you go along, but if you are familiar with the ideal, then you'll start out with higher quality captions from the very beginning.
And I think that's really important. As you progress, your standard will increase. Occasionally, we all get caught in one of those things where you've got to have something captioned right away, and you may not be able to adhere to all those standards, and that's okay. If it is for the greater good of making accessible for someone that needs it immediately. So sometimes, you have to not get so hung up on the details if you have a situation like that.
Gary D Robinson, who is one of the gurus of captioning published a book in 2004 ‑‑ or a book was published that was written by him in 2004 called the closed‑captioning handbook. And even though it's a 12‑year‑old book, there's a lot of good information in there. One thing I learned was I always talk about the first ‑‑ I'll mention this in my other two sessions, but I have to say it here too. The very first closed‑captioned television show. If anybody knows what it is, let's see. Brownie points for anybody who can tell me what the very first closed‑caption show was. I'll give you five or ten seconds to tell me if you can.
Anybody know? Well, it was the French chef Julia Childs, and I believe it was in 1974. And I just learned in this closed‑captioning handbook that the first live caption was a speech by the vice presidential candidate whose name ‑‑ no, it wasn't baseball. It was an Al Gore speech that Gary D Robinson himself had arranged to have live captioned. And I don't know the year by heart, but I thought that was very interesting. And I had missed that when I went through the book the first time, and I just picked it up again reasonably.
And as far as captioning, I think you need to do the right thing. And here's an example that I saw happen not long ago. I saw in a room where a video is being presented as part of a large group presentation. Well, they had opted not to caption the video because they had a ‑‑ a sign language interpreter there, which technically met the letter of the law, but I don't know what they were thinking because how are you going to watch a video and a sign language interpreter at the same time? So think about the people, not just about the ‑‑ not just about the law and whether or not you're meeting the minimum guideline. Try to put yourself when you're making decisions like this in the position of the person because I think if they had done that, they would have realized that it would have been the right thing to do to caption the video, even though they did have a sign language interpreter present because like I said, who can watch a sign language interpreter and a video at the same time? That ‑‑ I mean I think that would be next to impossible to actually do and get equivalent value out of the content.
So do the right thing. If you have those decisions to make, consider the person.
Okay. Now, a brief introduction to transcription.
Now, there are a couple of different ways to do audio to text manually and with software. If you can type 100 words a minute, that may be a great way for you to go. I can't, and I have arthritis in my little fingers, so I use speech recognition, speech to text. Everything from starting with YouTube auto transcription, to some really good web‑based tools that are available now that we'll talk about more, to the built in speech‑to‑text advanced features in a Mac now. And my always go to Dragon naturally speaking, and I just put the newest version on my Mac, and I bought the newest version for my PC, and they were ‑‑ and this is the honest truth. I've been using them since version 7 when Dragon was terrible and this is 15 and 6, and they were almost 100% accurate right out of the box with minimal training. So the quality and the usability of speech to text has really come a long way. Probably a good thing because arthritis is probably going to get the better of me before too long. But that's a great tool.
It can transcribe almost 100% accurate with some punctuation even. I talk too fast to interpret commas within. But it gets periods really well and then caps the first word in the next sentence automatically by itself in a word document. So I can zoom along with very high accuracy, and I can definitely do that a whole lot faster than I can type, and I think in a lot of cases that with speech‑to‑text where it is now before too long, it's going to be where I don't think anybody can talk as fast as you'll be able to do speech‑to‑text, especially one that you've trained if you're using high quality microphone, and you have a good set up that's appropriate for the situation.
So always good ol' fashion open notepad and type what you hear, absolutely. That works too. But there are other easier, and I think more efficient tools if you're not that speed typist.
What I'm shown on this screen is just an example of how accurate Dragon was out of the box. I opened it up, and I do have nice microphones. I do make a point to use quality microphones to get the best results possible. But I just ‑‑ the first time I opened it, it was a clean install, I removed my other ‑‑ because I wanted to test this, I removed my existing profiles and just went with this, and it was excellent. I think Dragon 30 seconds of training, and I was talking just as fast as I could. I don't think ‑‑ I counted the mistakes. But I don't have it right in front of me. But if there were very many. Less than five in two pages double spaced. So that's pretty good out of the box if you've used it earlier on, you know that. This is the version that just came out. I believe the last version was pretty good. But this one for both the Mac and the PC, this one has just blown the doors off what I've used in the past.
And there are some great web‑based tools out there as well. Google has some plugin tools available. And even express scribe, our good ol' standard old‑fashioned transcription tool will now plug in to speech recognition that you might have on your computer. Not so accurate. I do sort of work around his with that that work better. But the functionality is there. You can see I've got a screenshot up now that shows the express scribe interface and during the process of the speech to text going on in the background.
It was not as accurate by any means as just working right through Dragon. But if I'm working right through Dragon, generally, I have to be right there. I do the transcription there too, but the most accuracy is the live version. And then, there's some neat tools that you can get as plugins for your browser. One is just called transcribe. There are four or five different ones. Seem to work better on different computers whether you're working on a PC or a Mac. I had to play around with them, I have a couple, and one works better on my PC, one works better on my Mac. I love the Dragon speech‑to‑text feature on my iPhone and iPad, and I love the built in speech‑to‑text on any Apple device. You can ‑‑ well, I'll talk about that just in a jiffy.