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Re: Video Descriptions (Was: the market hasn't spoken - it hasn't bothered to listened)

From: Smylers <Smylers@stripey.com>
Date: Thu, 28 Jun 2007 11:42:46 +0100
To: HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <20070628104246.GA10843@stripey.com>

Lachlan Hunt writes:

> Smylers wrote:
> 
> > Ben Boyle writes:
> > 
> > > [Lachlan Hunt writes:]
> > > 
> > > > videos should be made accessibile through the use of things like
> > > > captions and audio descriptions.
> > > 
> > > alternatives are still useful.  Particularly for people with
> > > limited bandwidth, which you know remains an issue in Australia ;)
> > 
> > And also for people browsing with, say, Lynx.
> 
> They can launch the video in an external application.

Possibly, depending on the environment.  I have used Lynx in situations
where no graphical applications could be run (for example, while in a
datacentre, with keyboard and monitor connected to a normally-headless
server, trying to debug something).  And admittedly in none of those
situations have I found that the technical information I needed was only
available in a video which had no alternative representation.

But even where external apps can be launched, it's useful to have
alternative content so as to make an informed decision about whether
it's worth doing so.

> > Or people who don't have an appropriate video-playing plug-in for
> > their browser (perhaps because  the video is in a proprietory format
> > from a different platform).
> 
> You're confusing accessibility, which is about catering for people
> with disabilities,

I might be.  I was interpreting accessibility to be about making things
accessible to as many people as possible, in varying circumstances, and
where disabilities are just some of the circumstances we have to take
into account.

But it doesn't really matter; even if I'm mistaken and accessibility is
only concerned with the specific subset of people who have disabilities,
I still think HTML should care more widely than that.

Ben provided scenarios where alternatives to videos are still useful (to
people in some circumstances) even if those videos have captions and
audio descriptions.  We didn't explicitly mention this is for
accessibility, and whatever name it gets called doesn't affect that
these scenarios exist and it would be good for HTML to meet them.

> with interoperability, which is about making formats that work on
> different platforms, devices and/or software.

Not entirely.  Interoperability would involve ensuring that all videos
published on the web are in formats that can be displayed on all
platforms.  Realistically this isn't going to happen, but what we can do
is provide a way of catering for those who can't view certain videos.

However, writing alternative content obviously takes effort.  It may be
that the kind of people who choose closed video formats are the kind of
people who either explicitly don't care or are unaware of these kind of
issues, and so wouldn't bother to produce such alternative content.

Many videos on the web are user-generated content uploaded to sites like
YouTube.  Obviously YouTube aren't in a position to write alternative
content for each uploaded video, and forcing all uploaders to write such
content would probably only drive uploaders to a site without such a
policy.

> BTW, DVDs don't get sold with books describing the entire film for
> those who can't watch it.

Well many films do have tie-in books with the story.  This is of course
up to individual publishers, and no special technology is required to
release a book and a film of the same story.

> They do, however, get produced with captions, subtitles and sometimes
> audio descriptions.  Why should video on the web be any different?

A difference is that the web is explicitly trying to be an open
platform, with content available to as many people as possible.
Hollywood is driven by different concerns, and I don't think we should
use them as a model to copy.

Also, DVDs available for purchase have high production costs, and so
tend to be produced by studios who have equipment for putting in the
features you mention.  Many videos on the web are created by one person
with a cheap webcam who probably doesn't have a way of adding in these
accessibility features.

Whereas such a person probably would be able to provide alternative
non-video content.

Smylers
Received on Thursday, 28 June 2007 10:42:53 GMT

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