Sunday, April 1, 2012

Online Media CAN be accessible to Deaf...what do you know!?!

I often hear from sponsoring organizations how terribly difficult and totally too expensive it is to make things like online presentations, online videos, and "streamed" events accessible to the deaf.

Are there challenges? Of course!

But, always on the lookout for positive examples, I was thrilled to attend an in-world (Virtual Ability, Inc. in Second Life) hour long presentation and discussion today. And, by golly, there was an EXAMPLE of exactly how this could be done (i.e. was done and is being done.)

First of all, the media being streamed into SL is an excellent example of how media CAN be accessible to the deaf.

1. It is captioned (well, ha! choice of 39 languages, even!)
2. There is also an "interactive transcript" allowing viewers to read it at their own speed.  offers you an opportunity to see how this can be done... what a great model!

But, that's not all.

Participants at this presentation viewed the video (accessible) and then participated in an accessible discussion. Three other components were simply provided:

3. Voice (people used earphones and mics to say things into SL to share in the discussion.
4. Text (people used typing, including dictating into Dragon Dictate, which then puts into text from a person's voice).
5. Transcription (a transcriptionist ensured that all comments made only in voice were typed into text so all can see....and read out loud into the voice stream all comments made only in text chat.)

Clever, huh?

So...what happened?  Well, about twenty participants (and probably 20+ different types of disability represented among us) participated fully and equally in the discussion. Everyone had an opportunity to share their thoughts, ideas, questions, etc. Equally. No one was "left out" because there was a barrier.

So then... here is the persistent question (okay, well, ONE of many persistent questions):

Why don't all organizations simply "get" that the ADA was passed...ummm.. 22 YEARS AGO and that we (people with disabilities) have actually had the civil right to equal participation since then?

What if we simply accepted that fact (that people with disabilities are equal) and provided the accommodations needed (just like the law requires)?

What would happen?

Well, probably what happened today at Virtual Ability's presentation- a whole group of folks engaged in meaningful learning and discussion.Equally. Fully. Richly.

What other examples do you have? Please share.


  1. Thank you for this great blog piece. Virtual Ability in Second Life is a group in the forefront of demonstrating how technology and be used in overcoming barriers and inability people to join the conversation, so to speak. I will also mention the website, which was the source of the video used for this educational discussion. They to have many a real effort at accessibility in the experience they provide.

  2. I'm thrilled has so much that is captioned with real captions, not the fake auto-captions of YouTube!! GO TED!!

    1. They also have the complete interactive text of the talk. Click any part of the transcription and the talk starts from that point.

  3. Just so you know, I got invited through another Second Life group because it was posted there. So, maybe most of the people were from Virtual Ability but not all, and that's one thing I like about Virtual Ability is that they keep open to everybody not just members but people from all different backgorounds get invited in different ways and so that makes for a lot better discussion. Thank you very much.