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ziggy (25)

ziggy
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Journal of ziggy (25)

Thursday November 10, 2005
07:09 PM

News from Washington

[ #27535 ]

Throughout the federal government, all technology must meet adhere to strict accessability requirements to make accomodations for people with disabilities. In general, it applies to any "technology product" more complex than a pencil.

The regulations generally make sense. For example, if you have a web site, you need to use features that make it work with screen readers. Otherwise, you're just being spiteful to blind people (or making it impossible for blind federal employees to do their jobs). Similarly, videos need to be have closed captions available for the deaf.

Enter the new iPod with video.

Some nameless federal agency (no not that one -- I said nameless, not spooky) wants to start publishing video podcasts. According to section 508, all video needs captions for the hearing impared. Easy enough to do on broadcasts, video tapes and DVDs where optional captions are the norm. But videos? MPEG4 doesn't support captions, so the captions need to be rendered onto the image.

But who will be able to read those captions on that itsy bitsy 4" screen? At first glance, accessibility requirements will scuttle these video podcasts. Either the video will contain captions so large that they obscure the image, or the video will be uncaptioned and therefore inaccessible.

But waitasecond. How many deaf people actually listen to music on an iPod? It's an iPod!

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  • As you know I'm quite interested in accessibility issues. Still I think that you're right. Not everything needs to be accessible. Just like there are appartments without elevators, that aren't accessible for people in wheelchairs, because they don't have elevators. If you're looking for a house, you simply decide that such an appartment isn't for you.
    The same goes for technology. A video iPod isn't for people that need subtitles. But hey, any portable MP3/media player is inaccessible for people who have any
  • For any video "formatted for iPod", you can include a text file that can be shown with a simple access. Put the transcript in there. Not as convenient, but far more "accessible".
    --
    • Randal L. Schwartz
    • Stonehenge