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From: Cynthia D. Waddell <Cynthia.Waddell@ci.sj.ca.us>
Date: Tue, 03 Mar 1998 11:45:13 -0800
To: w3c-wai-pf@w3.org, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Message-id: <34FC5DC2.47F0@ci.sj.ca.us>
These comments are in response to the WAI-PF request for input on SMIL
for accessibility.

My perspective is both from the life experience as a person with a
hearing loss and as an Americans with Disabilities Act compliance
officer for the City of San Jose, California USA.

As a person with hearing loss, captioning is essential for understanding
the media being accessed.  I am particularly appreciative of
descriptions that not only include speech but also the music and
environmental sounds like "water running," "explosion," "knocking," "ice
cream truck jingle in background," etc. Frequently, these indicators
signal significant content "events."

For example, I was amazed when I saw the television series "A Woman of
Independent Means" and the captioning described the actual musical
lyrics being played for background music.  I had no idea that the lyrics
corresponded and supported the content of the dialogue being expressed. 
Other examples include television commercials.  As more and more
television commercials include the captioning of the jingle, the
advertisement itself has had more meaning to those of us with hearing
loss and I too might then be interested in the product or service being

As a professional who must ensure that people with disabilities have
access to all City services, programs and facilities, and who mediates
ADA cases for the US Department of Justice Keybridge Mediation Project,
I am concerned that multimedia presentations reach the broadest range of
people with disabilities.  Certain accessible features such as
audio-description and textual description allow people who are blind to
experience the message of the media environment.

As the SMIL Draft acknowledges, there needs to be more information on
the ability for the user to control the play process.  I would benefit
from being able to freeze the captioning so that I can keep up with the
text.  Same is true for those with cognitive and motor disabilities.

A universal design platform that would enable the user to format a
playback according to their preferences would be ideal.  Although my
comments have referred to accessibility for people with disabilities,
people in noisy environments might prefer the captioning as well as
people whose eyes are busy might prefer audio.

Lastly, I see heavy use of SMIL technology in the educational arena
since it would enable access to multimedia presentations.  It then
follows that government would also benefit from incorporating SMIL
technology in our outreach and educational programs for neighborhood

Cynthia D. Waddell
ADA Coordinator
City of San Jose
801 North First Street, Room 460
San Jose, California 95110-1704 USA
(408) 277-4034
(408) 971-0134 TTY
(408) 277-3885 FAX
Received on Tuesday, 3 March 1998 14:31:08 UTC

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