Tuesday, March 12, 2013

CNN: We shouldn't have to add captions

CNN told a California court yesterday that it shouldn't be required to provide closed-captioning for every video clip on its website. Lawyers for the Time Warner network says it would slow down its ability to report the news, add cost and make the information less accurate. In fact, CNN argued that the requirement is a violation of its First Amendment rights because the network has been singled out while the FCC is working on new online closed-captioning regulations CNN wants the Ninth Circuit to reverse a lower court ruling in favor of the Greater LA Council on Deafness. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of deaf Californians who are hoping to set a precident for the entire news industry. CNN already provides captioning on its television broadcast, as required by law, but does not do so on its website. New FCC rules will soon require recently captioning for professionally produced online videos, including newscasts, but the regulations do not cover short clips of less than 3 minutes or so.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

While CNN's attitude is less than helpful to the deaf community and could possibly damage future attempts to encourage the use of closed captioning, it is necessary to step back and examine the issues involved in the process. At this point I can only guess that the financial cost of adding caption to all video streams is likely the reason CNN is making the argument that they should not be legally bound to to provide CC information for short clips. Their position is understandable in that light although I personally think it is a cowardly position to take.
So my proposal is this. Instead of forcing companies to spend money, let us instead consider the problem from a purely technical point of view. Currently software exists which can translate voice into text. This application is the only truly necessary component required for an architecture to be built which can on the fly provide CC text.
So this is my idea. The deaf community would be best served in encouraging the developers of streaming content display software to add the ability to "on the fly" interpret voice into text which can automatically provide the CC data for any user.
The following principles should form the basis of a conversation between the developers of the software and the user community.
All software which handles video stream displays should have the ability to access an external voice to text conversion app, which would then return text to the video player in place of CC text.
I cannot overstate how important this concept is. The future of interfaces which deaf the deaf community will eventually have a need for this very component. As an example, technology will soon be available which could allow any user wear a pair of glasses which can provide a HUD (Heads Up Display). If by the time these devices become available the ability to provide "on the fly" text translation exist I predict that it will then be possible to provide a service to the deaf community which is staggering in it ability to connect to the world at large. Imagine a pair of glasses which when worn would translate speech occurring around you as you walk.
But it is crucial that the technical issue needed for this future technology be created now.

The key problem, as always, is money. Who will pay to develop the interfaces need to create "on the fly" translations. And as usual the first reaction is the guy with the most money. What the community needs is to rethink this proposition. Instead think from a business person point of view. What I am proposing here is a system which will not be limited to the deaf community, foreign language translations is also a possibility.
So my idea is thus, working with the internet development community and and makers of video stream player software a standard should be created where by video stream data can be prefiltered through an external application which can provide voice to text data. This data would then be added to the video stream "on the fly" the Closed Captioned content.
The primary reason for having an external program which can do the translations is to first reduces any one companies costs of implementation. Second, a standard such as this would enable any corporation to take on the burden of developing the "on the fly" translation as a money MAKING proposition. As a software developer with 25 years experience, I can assure you companies will jump at the opportunity to develop the key component needs for this system to work.

This is what I came up with quickly. If anyone is interested in discussing this further, or if the community as a whole is interested I would be happy to write a more detailed proposal.

Good Luck
Robert Vincent