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RE: Flash captioning (was: RE: Javascript alternatives not necessary?)

From: John M Slatin <john_slatin@austin.utexas.edu>
Date: Fri, 30 Jul 2004 09:08:33 -0500
Message-ID: <C46A1118E0262B47BD5C202DA2490D1A03B52384@MAIL02.austin.utexas.edu>
To: "Joe Clark" <joeclark@joeclark.org>, "WAI-GL" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

Great stuff, Joe, thanks. Forgive the top-post: I'm referring to the
entire content of your message, which appears in all its glory below.


"Good design is accessible design."

Dr. John M. Slatin, Director 
Accessibility Institute
University of Texas at Austin 
FAC 248C 
1 University Station G9600 
Austin, TX 78712 
ph 512-495-4288, fax 512-495-4524 
email jslatin@mail.utexas.edu 
Web http://www.utexas.edu/research/accessibility 

-----Original Message-----
From: w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org] On
Behalf Of Joe Clark
Sent: Thursday, July 29, 2004 2:59 PM
Subject: Flash captioning (was: RE: Javascript alternatives not

> Joe's the expert on captioning.

Why... why, thank you!

> Joe, do people that caption audio presentations include
> all the words or just what they feel is important?

There is no straightforward answer. To summarize some available facts, 

* The British like to edit on the unsupportable basis that 120 wpm is
deaf people can handle.

* Studies show captioning viewers can handle >200 wpm for extended 

* The majority of established captioners in the U.S. and Canada aim for 
verbatim captioning. That is not necessarily the case in French.

* Sometimes it is technically impossible to transmit all the spoken
in text. In multimedia, that limitation is nearly nonexistent.

* Sometimes there "isn't enough space" for verbatim captioning. That's a

problem of typography and is usually a dodge, in my experience (e.g., 
same-language subtitles, which are pointless anyway, that are 
ideologically limited to two lines, with the top line shorter than the 

* Real-time captioning always misses words over an extended run.

* At (for example) a sporting event or a political convention or a 
concert, with discernible foreground and background speakers, only 
foreground speakers are captioned (unless there's an unusual pause). 
However, sometimes non-speech information will be rendered (e.g., 
[auctioneer continues calling]) even while foreground speech is
Some other exceptional circumstances may arise.

* Even people who are attempting verbatim captioning will edit out 
nonverbal utterances like "um" and "ah."

* Backing vocals, harmonies, and vocal effects are often hard to caption

(unexpected example: "Closing Time" by Leonard Cohen).

> From my experience they include only what they feel is important.

"Feel" is perhaps being unfair. But often, the effect is the same.

> If the information wasn't important why would the speaker
> be saying it?

That's amusing!


     Joe Clark | joeclark@joeclark.org
     Accessibility <http://joeclark.org/access/>
     Expect criticism if you top-post
Received on Friday, 30 July 2004 10:08:45 UTC

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