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Chicago Justice Newest Dick Wolf Show To Be Accessible To Blind Audiences

Posted by Anna on March 1, 2017 at 4:00 pm. Video Description
Mark, Anna, and Peter stand amidst protesters outside a courthouse

Mark, Anna, and Peter stand amidst protesters outside a courthouse

Chicago Justice is the latest addition to Dick Wolf’s hit franchise of shows set in the Windy City.  To the delight of blind and low-vision audience who have followed the interweaving worlds of  Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., and Chicago Med with the help of video description, Chicago Justice will also be broadcast with the accessibility feature.

Fast-paced dramas with huge ensemble casts contain lots of visual information that is not conveyed through the show’s dialogue or sound effects.  In addition to providing information about scene and time changes, video description gives blind viewers access to key plot points like the source of an explosion, which details of a crime scene are being documented, and countless character emotions conveyed through facial expressions and body language.

While its regular timeslot will be Sundays at 9/8c, Chicago Justice will debut tonight after Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. set up a historic three-hour crossover event.  Chicago Med won’t be airing its own episode, but the hospital and doctors will be featured in the storyline.

Our description team has loved the unique opportunity to make an entire series of shows that has built on itself accessible to the blind community. We frequently hear from members of our Consumer Advisory Board and Quality Assurance Panel about how much they enjoy the Chicago programs.

CaptionMax describes the best in broadcast and OTT entertainment, as well as corporate, government, and educational programming. To find out how you can add video description to your content, contact sales@captionmax.com.

Federal Agencies Must Prepare For New Requirements Under Section 508 ICT Refresh

Posted by Anna on January 19, 2017 at 2:00 pm. Captioning, Video Description

US Access Board Logo

Last week, the US Access Board delivered a long awaited final rule under the authority of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Widely known as the “Section 508 Refresh,” the law ensures that federal agencies provide full accessibility in all aspects of their information and communication technology (ICT).  After being published in the Federal Register yesterday, agencies and vendors are expected to comply within a one-year period (January 18, 2018).

Requirements

To make sure that the refresh keeps pace with a continuously evolving technological landscape, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, an internationally accepted standard, were incorporated. Its success criteria  were adopted by the New York City and European Union governments early last year. The rule states that agencies must conform to Level A (which provide the most basic web accessibility features) and Level AA (which address the biggest and most common barriers for disabled users) requirements. These are the requirements that apply to online video content:

Level A

To conform to Level A guidelines, federal agencies must provide the following:

Offline Captions Pre-recorded video content with audio must have closed captions.

Video Description Pre-recorded video content with audio must have video description OR text video description (media alternative) that is accessible using screen reader technology.

Level AA

To conform to Level AA guidelines, federal agencies must provide what is listed in Level A, as well as:

Live Captions Live streaming videos must have closed captions.

Video Description Pre-recorded video content with audio must have video description.

The Impact Beyond Section 508

While Section 508 only applies to federal agencies, the Title III team at Seyfarth Shaw believes the refresh “makes it even more likely that the DOJ will adopt the same standard for the websites of public accommodations and state and local governments under Titles II and III of the ADA,” meaning organizations that want to be proactive should start looking to WCAG 2.0 requirements sooner rather than later.

How CaptionMax Can Help

We help government agencies and businesses of all sizes meet WCAG 2.0 standards for their video content.  In addition to producing the highest quality closed captioning and video description, our team works closely with clients to provide custom style guides and streamlined workflows that meet their needs.

How The Department of Transportation Agreement With The NAD Will Affect Content Providers

Posted by Anna on December 15, 2016 at 6:06 pm. Captioning, Video Description
The interior of an airplane cabin with seatback entertainment units illuminated

The interior of an airplane cabin with seatback entertainment units illuminated

This week the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) reached an agreement with the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) that could have deep implications for video content providers. The notice of proposed rulemaking won’t be issued until July 2017, but the ACCESS Advisory committee, which includes disability advocacy organizations, airlines, aircraft manufacturers, and content providers, has been working on the recommendations it submitted to the DOT since April of 2016.

If the recommendations are followed, all new in-flight entertainment systems for new aircrafts or installed into existing models would be required to support closed captions and video description.  For aircrafts that do not have accessible seatback entertainment systems, they must provide a personal entertainment device (PED) with accessible and comparable content. Wirelessly streaming that content to a passenger’s PED is an acceptable alternative.

Additionally, airlines will request that content providers deliver 100% of covered in-flight entertainment with closed captions and video description. This requirement will extend to edited versions.

CaptionMax can help content providers prepare their videos for delivery under these new requirements, whether they’re starting from scratch or have existing files. For current and new clients, we are able to convert file types or reformat closed captioning and video description files for any edited versions as needed.

DOJ Finalizes Ruling Requiring Movie Theaters To Provide Closed Captioning And Video Description

Posted by Anna on December 6, 2016 at 4:31 pm. ADA, Captioning, DOJ, Video Description
Interior of a movie theater

Interior of a movie theater

Last week, the Department of Justice issued its final ruling on regulations for movie theaters showing digital films to provide closed captioning and video description. The rule amends Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits public accommodations from discriminating against individuals with disabilities, and will go into effect January 17, 2017.

The Department found that despite movie studios regularly providing closed captions and video description as a part of their Digital Cinema Package (DCP), they were not consistently made available at all theaters or showings to patrons who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, or low-vision.

In addition to requiring hardware acquisition, theaters will need to provide a minimum number of captioning and description devices for patrons. The minimum number of devices increases with the number of auditoriums per venue.

Compliance for theaters showing digital movies prior to the ruling must be met by June 2, 2018. At this time, no specific requirements are imposed for theaters that exclusively screen analog movies, however any theaters that convert from an analog to a digital projection system subsequent to the ruling must comply with these requirements by December 2, 2018 or within 6 months of the completed installation of the new system, whichever is later.

For producers looking to deliver a fully accessible DCP for their feature films, CaptionMax can provide a streamlined workflow for closed captioning and video description, including mixes for 5.1 surround sound. Adding these services can expand the potential reach of your content to approximately 50 million Americans who are deaf or blind, leading to larger crowds at the box office.

Microsoft Highlights The Future Of Accessibility Online

Posted by Anna on October 26, 2016 at 5:17 pm. ADA, Consumer Advisory Board, Video Description, WCAG

Kelly sits at a desk next to his laptop.

Earlier today, Microsoft held their Windows 10 Event, a two-hour presentation of new products and features from the technology giant. Microsoft began with a video that underscores the importance of accessibility in the design process, stating: “We don’t build Windows 10 for all of us. We build Windows 10 for each of us.” While the video features how Windows 10 will be improved for people across a range of disabilities, it does a fantastic job of showcasing the enhancements for blind and low-vision screen reader users.

Senior Program Manager, Kelly, who is blind himself, is shown using Windows Narrator on his laptop with the voice sped up to increase efficiency. He says, “So right now we’re at about 80% of capacity of how Narrator could speak. And this is about how I would use my computer. That probably sounds like gibberish, but once you get used to this, it’s pretty quick.”

Most people are unfamiliar with screen reader technology, so it’s wonderful that Microsoft used a high-profile event to give greater context for its application. In past Consumer Advisory Board meetings, CaptionMax has asked its members to listen to different speeds of video description to help us determine how fast our narrators should speak when they record to optimize for quality and efficiency.

Text video description is another option that serves as a full alternative to the video, making it accessible to blind or low-vision individuals with screen reader technology and allowing them to choose their own speed. For several years, CaptionMax has provided text video description, also known as a “media alternative,” as a service for our clients who want to meet WCAG 2.0 Level A standards for their online video content.

We make media accessibility easy for our clients. In addition to helping them understand which services they need to become compliant and reach a wider audience, we offer the increased efficiency, security, and quality of having it all done under one roof. To learn more about WCAG 2.0 compliance, contact sales@captionmax.com.

Meet Diane, First Place Winner In Our Just Add Words Video Description Contest!

Posted by Anna on July 28, 2016 at 9:00 am. Just Add Words, Video Describers, Video Description

This years First Place winner Diane Kollman

2016 First Place winner Diane Kollman

The results are in from this year’s Just Add Words competition! Meet, Diane Kollman, our first place winner who did a fabulous job describing this year’s short film, Canned:

How old are you?

I’m 23 going on 24 this September.

What is your occupation?

I am currently in-between jobs, although I have a side gig doing online tutoring in psychology and writing.

Do you have a writing background?

I earned my Bachelor of Arts in English and psychology with minors in professional writing and creative writing from The Ohio State University, so you could say I have a strong interest in writing! My life’s ambition is to become a fantasy author, and I enjoy seeking out writing contests like this one to test my skills.

What are your hobbies/interests?

Other than my obvious interest in writing and reading, I also love planning epic road trips, solving puzzles in escape rooms, and appreciating nature through geocaching.

Do you have any fun plans for your prize money?

My fiancé and I will be getting married next October, so I’ll be putting it all in the piggy bank for our honeymoon. A big thanks to the CaptionMax team for their generosity and commitment to providing accessible media!


To find out how you can add video description to your content, contact sales@captionmax.com.

CaptionMax Hosts Open-Described Film Screening At 2016 ACB Convention

Posted by Anna on July 7, 2016 at 4:49 pm. Movies, Video Describers, Video Description
CaptionMax CEO Truck Morrison and head of Video Description Brian Gebhart introduce Shoulder The Lion

CaptionMax CEO Truck Morrison and head of Video Description Brian Gebhart introduce Shoulder The Lion

Last night, we hosted an open-described screening of acclaimed documentary Shoulder The Lion as a part of the 2016 ACB Convention that has been held here in Minneapolis all week.  This film is a visually rich exploration of the story of three artists who have lost a sense that defines their art, and it is some of the most challenging and rewarding work we have ever done in video description. It was an absolute delight to get such warm and affirming feedback from those in attendance. To watch the open described trailer, click here.

Brian talks with CaptionMax Quality Assurance Panel member Viola Cruz before the screening begins

Brian talks with CaptionMax Quality Assurance Panel member Viola Cruz before the screening begins

How To Celebrate The Fifth Annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Posted by Anna on May 18, 2016 at 12:00 pm. ADA, CVAA, Captioners, Captioning, DOJ, Video Description, WCAG
Global Accessibility Awareness Day logo against a cloudy blue sky

Global Accessibility Awareness Day logo against a cloudy blue sky

Tomorrow marks the fifth annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), and the story of how GAAD came to be is every bit as modern as the cause it champions:

“The idea of a Global Accessibility Awareness Day started with a single blog post written by a Los Angeles-based web developer,Joe DevonJennison Asuncion, an accessibility professional from Toronto discovered Joe’s blog post purely by accident thanks to Twitter. After reading it, he immediately contacted Joe and they joined forces, leveraging their extensive and respective networks to realize the event.”

Beginning in 2015, rather than using a fixed date, Devon and Asuncion decided to mark GAAD on the third Thursday of May. On their website, they provide a full list of in person and online events that the public is welcome to take part of.

At a time when website accessibility regulations are popping up everywhere, these events are a perfect opportunity to learn more about the future of online accessibility.

To learn how you can make your online video content accessible, contact sales@captionmax.com.

How To Write A Winning Entry For Just Add Words!

Posted by Anna on May 12, 2016 at 10:00 am. Just Add Words, Video Describers, Video Description

A man writes with a pen on lined notebook paper

A man writes with a pen on lined notebook paper

Thinking about entering our third annual Just Add Words Video Description Contest? Here are some tips for creating a winning entry:

Relevance of Detail

Writers should describe whatever information (settings, characters, actions, graphics, on-screen text, and other details) is most important for a blind viewer to understand what is happening in the program. Description should not duplicate any material that is already clear from the program’s dialogue or sound effects, such as “a woman laughs” or “the doorbell rang.”

Clarity of Description

Descriptions should be accurate and easy to visualize. Writers should remain as objective as possible and avoid adding their own opinions or interpretations.

Vividness of Language

Writers should bring the scene to life by using the active voice, precise verbs, and evocative diction.

Consistency of Mood

Writers should choose language that matches the mood, tone, and visual style of the program.

Timing and Readability

The descriptions must fit around the characters’ dialogue and within the total run time of the seen. They should be readable at a natural pace by voiceover talent. Try reading your entry along with the video and edit it down if necessary.

Finally, watch last year’s winners and learn! They did an amazing job.

Video description is an incredible assistive technology that allows blind and low-vision audiences to access a program’s visual content by translating images into words. To learn more about how to add content to your description, contact sales@captionmax.com

NYC, Europe Enact Website Accessibility Standards

Posted by Anna on May 10, 2016 at 4:07 pm. ADA, Captioning, DOJ, Video Description, WCAG
Illustration of computer with WCAG and related accessibility symbols on it

Illustration of computer with WCAG and related accessibility symbols on it

2016 has already been a big year for creating regulations around website accessibility. In March, New York City became the first major municipality in the United States to adopt legislation mandating accessibility standards for all of its government agency websites. The New York City government serves over 8 million people and employs approximately 325,000 for its 120+ agencies.

The law recognizes that Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Level AA (”WCAG 2.0 AA”) is quickly becoming the international standard for website accessibility.  While the Department of Justice has continually delayed setting legally-required standards for state and local governments under Title II of the ADA, as well as public accommodations (which encompasses private businesses) under Title III, it has strongly indicated through investigations, settlements, and court filings over the last 5 years that websites will be deemed “accessible” if they are compliant with WCAG 2.0 AA standards.

The law requires that the City establishes a website protocol within 6 months. If the City chooses to adopt a protocol that differs from WCAG 2.0 AA, “it must first consult with experts in website design, conduct a public hearing, and ensure that any differences will still provide effective communication for persons with disabilities.”

Last week, more than three years after its proposal, members of the European Parliament, Council, and Commission agreed on the first EU-wide rules to make public sector websites and mobile apps more accessible:

The Directive will cover public sector bodies’ websites and mobile apps, from administrations, courts and police departments to public hospitals, universities and libraries. It will make them accessible for all citizens – in particular for the blind, the hard of hearing, the deaf, and those with low vision and with functional disabilities.”

The EU web accessibility policy requires that “top-level” EUROPA pages, as well as all new EUROPA pages and sub-sites should meet the WCAG 2.0 AA standards. They are currently working to bring as many lower-level pages as possible up to that same standard.

While WCAG 2.0 AA standards apply to many different aspects of websites, these are the guidelines for video content:

Level A (Beginner)

To conform to Level A guidelines, online content producers must provide the following:

Offline Captions Pre-recorded video content with audio must have closed captions.

Video Description Pre-recorded video content with audio must have video description OR text video description (media alternative) that is accessible using screen reader technology.

Level AA (Intermediate)

To conform to Level AA guidelines, online content producers must provide what is listed in Level A, as well as:

Live Captions Live streaming videos must have closed captions.

Video Description Pre-recorded video content with audio must have video description.

To find out more about how you can make your online video content compliant with these standards, contact sales@captionmax.com.

 

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