Accessibility suggestion for the deaf/hard of hearing December 20, 2016 7:31 AM   Subscribe

I am hard of hearing and it would be helpful to have notations on videos about their level of accessibility. For example, if they include speech, is it captioned? Are there captions, but only auto generated? Does the speech contain information necessary to watch the video? Does it add some other value (e.g. humor)? Is it music only? Ambient noise? This would also be useful for people who cannot listen to the video because they are at work or school because then they know whether or not to bother watching it now, or save it for later. Remember: almost all of us are going to become hard of hearing if we live long enough.

I am open to suggestions about notations so it doesn't add a lot of clutter to posts. See my recent post for an example, although the speech in the cheetah video is not necessary to enjoy it.

Some possible notes:
CC - closed captioned (not auto generated)
CC AG - closed captioned, auto generated only (these tend to be very poor quality unless there is no background noise)
Narration - (person speaking is off-screen - documentaries, movie trailers, etc.)
Speech - (e.g. a conversation, most movies, vlog, political speech)
Music Only - I suppose Music w/Lyrics is needed if the lyrics are necessary for enjoyment, e.g. that one musical y'all keep banging on about
Ambient Only - wind noise, engine noise, etc.

Final note - Vimeo does not support captions, so if the same content is available on both Vimeo and YouTube, please use YouTube.
posted by AFABulous to Etiquette/Policy at 7:31 AM (27 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

Oh hey, as a related aside, the PBS Passport streaming service has a fully customizable cc panel, so if you need or prefer captions on your Great British Bake Offs and Downton Abbeys and Antiques Roadshows, they've got you covered about every which way you could possibly want.
posted by phunniemee at 7:49 AM on December 20, 2016 [7 favorites]


+1 on the request to at least think about accessibility of videos before posting, or at least to request that people add notes about what kind of accessibility is available. For those of you who need a longer argument beyond "accessibility for everyone where possible is a good thing," let me add some emphasis to the point that captions and transcripts benefit many people, not just hard of hearing/deaf people. (Me, for one; sometimes I have auditory processing issues and I process transcripts in particular much more effectively than speech. I'm not hard of hearing, but I sometimes don't focus so well.) It's one of the more obvious and well-documented examples of the curb cut effect.

AFABulous, do you have thoughts on transcripts, or are they just not usually free to access?
posted by sciatrix at 7:50 AM on December 20, 2016 [17 favorites]


I feel like this would be a neat feature for the "link" user interface. If it detects a video link, it can present a set of checkboxes (which users could choose to ignore) for the content. Otherwise, this feels like a lot of categories to remember, and trying to navigate all of that would probably just discourage me from posting videos at all.

Part of why the curb-cut effect works is because it puts the onus on designers to think about it, not users. I'm not sure that I'd put the average metafilter poster/commenter in the designer role especially without any tooling support.

Vimeo does not support captions, so if the same content is available on both Vimeo and YouTube, please use YouTube.

I don't feel very strongly about one service over the other, but there are folks around here that are YouTube averse because they do not support various aspects of Alphabet's business model. I think that accessibility is an important factor to weigh in when considering which service to give clicks too, but I know that for some people it would be far from the only one.

And this is probably catastrophizing/slippery-sloping, but I'd be curious to hear other's thoughts on it: creating accessible content can be a hard problem, and there are plenty of videomakers/podcasters who may not have the resources to do so. I worry that discouraging content with accessibility issues* could make Metafilter a less vibrant space, because we'd see fewer of the quirky one-off style content creators, and more of the highly produced, youtube superstar set.

*I am aware that this is not what is being explicitly asked for.
posted by sparklemotion at 8:53 AM on December 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Final note - Vimeo does not support captions, so if the same content is available on both Vimeo and YouTube, please use YouTube.
Vimeo supports the following captions and subtitles file formats: SRT, WebVTT, DFXP/TTML, SCC, and SAMI files, but we recommend using WebVTT whenever possible.
posted by zamboni at 9:02 AM on December 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Huh. I have almost never seen a Vimeo with captions as an option.
posted by AFABulous at 9:14 AM on December 20, 2016


Most likely because most youtube videos with subtitles have them automatically generated and then edited for mondegreens, which is a technology I'm guessing Vimeo doesn't feature. Manual transcription/subtitling is about as detached from "fun" as it possibly can - it's one of the most soul-sucking, time and labour-intensive things I ever recall doing.
posted by lmfsilva at 10:16 AM on December 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


I love transcripts. They are a lot faster to take in than video of someone talking. Also, one can more easily skip over the "I already know this" parts to get to the interesting "this is new information" parts.

I also just enjoy watching videos with the sound off sometimes.

In fact, if a video has both image information and speech information, I might watch the video with the sound off (I don't like voiceover distractions) and scan the transcript separately.
posted by amtho at 10:24 AM on December 20, 2016 [7 favorites]


Manual transcription/subtitling is about as detached from "fun" as it possibly can - it's one of the most soul-sucking, time and labour-intensive things I ever recall doing.

oh my god, tell me about it. I think I would rather eat a live worm than do another 30-minute transcript manually, it would be less soul-killing and also it would be over faster than the 1.5hr that usually takes me
posted by sciatrix at 10:25 AM on December 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


I am seconding this. A thoughtful little note about the content I can expect is really, really helpful.

I skip stuff that I'm not interested in, and that's life. However, it makes me feel bitter and excluded when there's something that seems awesome, but I can't engage with it because, surprise, it's video-only. I would rather know that right away, think "Ok, not for me" and move on with my life. Rather than "Hey, awesome! *click*....aw, shit! video! Ok, how much do I care about this?"

If you warn for PDF download or auto-play music or flashing lights or NSFW...how is this different?
posted by blnkfrnk at 10:52 AM on December 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


If you go your preferences and click the box next to "YouTube & Vimeo video inline?" you'll get a little "play" arrow icon next to video links from those sites. That catches the vast majority of them. I don't recall if that icon shows up on mobile.
posted by AFABulous at 11:07 AM on December 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


This is a great reminder and I'll try to be better about labeling in future.
posted by selfnoise at 11:17 AM on December 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


It works on mobile. The fact that it is an option makes blnkfrnk's comment a little more coherent -- why would posters provide content warnings that are generated automatically?

Which, again, is why I feel like a technical solution to this would be ideal... Youtube knows whether a video has real or AG captions and should be able to expose at least that much info on the API (I have no clue if they do). The other categories are squishier and probably need the human posting the link to identify, but having the tool prompt the human to do that would be nice.
posted by sparklemotion at 11:20 AM on December 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Love the option for transcripts. Makes it easier to watch-while-eating among all the other good reasons.

crunch crunch
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 11:44 AM on December 20, 2016 [5 favorites]


Thanks for the request and reminder, I'll definitely remember when I next post a video, and I don't please pull me up on it! It's not too much effort to think about this stuff, and Sparklemotion, aFABulous is not asking to ban non-captioned videos (" it would be helpful to have notations on videos about their level of accessibility."), so concerns about mefi's vibrancy seem quite unwarranted?
posted by smoke at 12:30 PM on December 20, 2016 [7 favorites]


re: transcripts, in an ideal world I'd prefer that people who post stuff with audio (especially podcasts) also provide a link to the transcript if available, or indicate that there isn't one. Honestly I pretty much always skip podcast posts though.
posted by AFABulous at 12:54 PM on December 20, 2016 [8 favorites]


yes oh my god please link to transcripts if they exist, even if it's right there on the page when you click onto the post's link; if there is no indication on the fpp itself that a transcript exists, then i just skip the post.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:14 PM on December 20, 2016 [8 favorites]


Question about FPP framing. I'm thinking about this past fpp and its framing, about a podcast that always provides a full transcript of each episode. I didn't bold the wording or draw attention to that, but I did point out the transcripts' existence in the main post.

Is that something you would see right off the bat, or is it something your eyes would just skim right over? Mine did when I looked at it, but also right now I have the brain fog so YMMV.
posted by sciatrix at 2:27 PM on December 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Most likely because most youtube videos with subtitles have them automatically generated and then edited for mondegreens, which is a technology I'm guessing Vimeo doesn't feature. Manual transcription/subtitling is about as detached from "fun" as it possibly can - it's one of the most soul-sucking, time and labour-intensive things I ever recall doing.

Huh, it's the kind of grunt work task I actually enjoy (like copy editing or proof reading) but have sadly never had occasion to be paid to do. If you ever need anything transcribed, poke me a memail and I will do it (for free, I mean) if I'm not too busy, just to keep my hand in.
posted by Dysk at 3:40 PM on December 20, 2016


I almost always watch videos with sound muted (including music videos), so while I'm not hard of hearing, I have often wondered how those who are deal with videos when they don't have the option of turning the sound on. Thanks for your post, AFAB; I'll try to remember your request next time I post video links.
posted by ardgedee at 3:45 PM on December 20, 2016


I worry that discouraging content with accessibility issues* could make Metafilter a less vibrant space, because we'd see fewer of the quirky one-off style content creators, and more of the highly produced, youtube superstar set.

I wish I were surprised to see somebody trotting out the argument that paying attention to accessibility makes things worse overall, but I'm not. It's bogus for many reasons, including the pragmatic one that plenty of "quirky one-off style content creators" manage to make their content accessible. The common thread seems to be that these creators either are disabled themselves or have friends or family who are disabled, so the idea of putting up inaccessible work because making it accessible requires a bit more time doesn't seem like a valid choice to them.
posted by Lexica at 4:24 PM on December 20, 2016 [17 favorites]


I love this idea so much. I'm not hearing impaired but I generally skip posts with video because it's just not worth it. If I knew there was captioning or a transcript I'd be much more likely to check it out. Yay for accessibility making things better for everyone!
posted by selfmedicating at 6:19 PM on December 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


I also love this idea muchly. I usually have the sound on my laptop/phone etc off, and appreciate knowing in advance whether I need to turn it on (and normally wouldn't bother if a video only has ambient sound or unnecessary background music). Otherwise I click through, watch the first few seconds, realise I'm missing something, try to remember how to turn my sound on, do so, realise Youtube is still muted, try to find the Youtube unmute button, and then have to flip back to the start of the video. And if I see all that friction coming, I usually just don't bother with the video in the first place. If it relies on someone talking instead of pure visuals, I'd rather just read a transcript. (And if there is one, please link).

I will endeavour to use this labelling system in any future posts of my own. Thanks for the suggestion!
posted by lollusc at 8:12 PM on December 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Part of why the curb-cut effect works is because it puts the onus on designers to think about it, not users. I'm not sure that I'd put the average metafilter poster/commenter in the designer role especially without any tooling support.

That's fair.

And this is probably catastrophizing/slippery-sloping

Yes, it is. Please explain how including more people would actually make Metafilter "less vibrant."
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 6:03 PM on December 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


I think we're running into the thing where a request parses to some people as "if even a few people would start doing this thing, it would be an improvement," and to some people as "here is a proposed set of rules, and if ratified, anyone who does not follow these rules should henceforce be labeled as bad."

I take it as the first, and I think it was meant that way. However, its easier for some people for everything to be classified as a rule or not-a-rule , because recommended-but-not-required is vague enough to be stress inducing.

After all, if some behavior is collectively agreed to be a Good Thing, then not doing it would be a Bad Thing. Adding to the list of Official Good Things means the chances of failing to do something on the list increases. Thus the worry that a suggestion like this would discourage posters who are afraid of being accidental Bad People. It's kind of a perfect being the enemy of the good thing.
posted by Karmakaze at 12:14 PM on December 24, 2016


That's probably true, but the suggestion wasn't "can you make sure your links have captions and a transcript?" it was "can you let us know if your links have important audio and if there are captions and a transcript?" which even if it were a cast iron rule wouldn't really get in the way of anyone or make anything less vibrant...
posted by Dysk at 4:02 PM on December 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think we're running into the thing where a request parses to some people as "if even a few people would start doing this thing, it would be an improvement," and to some people as "here is a proposed set of rules, and if ratified, anyone who does not follow these rules should henceforce be labeled as bad."

Or, if called out or flagged, people posting an FPP could use the contact form to say "Oh hey oops, mods, could you add that to my post?"

That would make anyone a Good Person who just didn't think about it, and that's O.K. Life's about learning about new things, otherwise most of us wouldn't be reading or posting to Metafilter.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:20 PM on January 2, 2017 [1 favorite]


To that sort of mindset, though, needing to being called out or flagged is a sign of having been Bad. If you're coming from the premise that there are only two modes, perfect and failure, then there's no casual "oops, well I guess I learned something." It jumps straight to imperfect equals failure.

Is this sort of all or nothing approach adding unnecessary stress that nobody even meant to put on the hypothetical poster anyway? Absolutely.

It's also a pretty common brain weasel. It's right up there with "I got an A-; why do I fail at everything I do?" So you get people digging in their heels over suggestions like this because adding anything, pretty much anything at all, to the should list is adding a way for the poster to fail, with failure defined as not being perfect.

Personally I do not think that encouraging people to be mindful about their audience when they post makes for a less vibrant community. This is a good suggestion and I approve of it. I'm just trying to explain that not everyone parses this sort of thing the same way, and to try to describe one of the mechanisms that can drive opposition to "it would be great if..." suggestions, even when, yes, it would be great if...
posted by Karmakaze at 7:51 AM on January 3, 2017


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