Will videoblogs be outlawed because of California's accessibility laws?

I’m watching this case where Target is in trouble with California’s accessibility laws. I’m wondering when they will come after the videoblogging industry. Go to YouTube. If you’re deaf isn’t that entire site inaccessible?

Now, imagine a world where every video is forced to get a transcript so that it’s accessible to deaf people? Yeah, some sites like mine would just pay to have transcripts done. But most video bloggers can’t afford that. So who would pay for this?

I couldn’t afford to do it for my Kyte.tv channel, for instance. So if there was a law that said that all videos needed to have transcripts so they were accessible I’d be forced to stop doing video.

I guess if such a law were enforced then we’d need a technology solution that would automatically add transcripts to our videos.

Comments

  1. As long as the site enables users to navigate to the content in the same way that they would a traditional text site that supports accessibility, they should be ok. This will create a lot of a work for those hosting the sites though, since they’ll need to continue to support and maintain all features and test for accessibility.

  2. Why stop there? Why not force YouTube and all videos on the net to comply with the total captioning requirement? Since 1/1/06 everything on broadcast television has been required to be 100% close captioned.

    -A

  3. As long as the site enables users to navigate to the content in the same way that they would a traditional text site that supports accessibility, they should be ok. This will create a lot of a work for those hosting the sites though, since they’ll need to continue to support and maintain all features and test for accessibility.

  4. Why stop there? Why not force YouTube and all videos on the net to comply with the total captioning requirement? Since 1/1/06 everything on broadcast television has been required to be 100% close captioned.

    -A

  5. Don’t think much to worry about here, TV has been around longer than the accessibility laws. Also, you aren’t selling anything on your Kyte.TV channel and Target is. Big difference.

  6. Don’t think much to worry about here, TV has been around longer than the accessibility laws. Also, you aren’t selling anything on your Kyte.TV channel and Target is. Big difference.

  7. I’m on the fence re: accessibility laws. (They have good points and bad)

    However, having video transcripts would be a god-send, even though I’m not blind. There’s plenty of interesting content that I’ll never watch because I consider video a waste of time. (Yes, I’m one of those guys who listen to audio books at 4x)

    Unless you have a compelling *visual* point to make, video is a rude disregard for your audience’s time.

  8. [quote]I guess if such a law were enforced then we’d need a technology solution that would automatically add transcripts to our videos. [/quote]

    There are already a couple of startups doing automatic podcast transcription (i.e. audio-to-text), and extending this to video wouldn’t be that difficult, by my imagination.

  9. I’m on the fence re: accessibility laws. (They have good points and bad)

    However, having video transcripts would be a god-send, even though I’m not blind. There’s plenty of interesting content that I’ll never watch because I consider video a waste of time. (Yes, I’m one of those guys who listen to audio books at 4x)

    Unless you have a compelling *visual* point to make, video is a rude disregard for your audience’s time.

  10. [quote]I guess if such a law were enforced then we’d need a technology solution that would automatically add transcripts to our videos. [/quote]

    There are already a couple of startups doing automatic podcast transcription (i.e. audio-to-text), and extending this to video wouldn’t be that difficult, by my imagination.

  11. I think an online transcript requirement would only hold up to those that are either government related sites, or websites that generate revenue. Or maybe the videobloggers alternative could be a textblog counterpart? Wouldn’t have to be word for word the same as the videoblog, but cover the same ideas covered in its video counterpart.

  12. I think an online transcript requirement would only hold up to those that are either government related sites, or websites that generate revenue. Or maybe the videobloggers alternative could be a textblog counterpart? Wouldn’t have to be word for word the same as the videoblog, but cover the same ideas covered in its video counterpart.

  13. No, and this issue isn’t remotely new; accessibility laws have existed for a long time, and web developers who are actually smart have been paying attention to them for a long time.

    How do you think photo albums are supposed to presented to blind people? There are limitations to the extent that you can reasonably expected to make alternative forms of content available, but a plain ordinary e-commerce site has nothing about it that can’t EASILY be made accessible to blind or partially-sited users: it’s sheer laziness and lack of knowledge on the part of the developers.

    In the YouTube case, blind people *should* be able to at least get the audio, the title, description, poster’s name, date, and any comments, as well as access to the usual playback controls. If captions are available and they somehow don’t intefere with the audio soundtrack, that’s good too. You can’t realistically magic the video itself in any form beyond the embedded audio or spoken captions, though, and if there are no captions supplied by the author of the video, then you can’t present those (YouTube could conceivably be forced to allow them to be supplied and presented, though).

    In the photo sharing case, it’s the same deal: you perhaps can’t view the photo, but you should be able to get all of the information ABOUT the photo, and navigate the site. You should be able to find out that I posted a photograph on Flickr publicly yesterday just as full-sighted person can.

    Beyond that, though, there’s an additional obligation level when it comes to e-commerce sites, because failing to cater for those with disabilities prevents them from taking advantage of products and services that are being sold (and it’s not like lots of places don’t have “web-only” deals and such).

    User-generated content probably itself gains an exemption in terms of the content ITSELF (because there’s a limit to how much control sites like YouTube can exert in this regard without making them useless—think of all the mobile phone camera videos that get uploaded, for example), but the sites that present the content still need to be accessible.

    Building accessible sites can sometimes be tricky, but it’s not rocket science, and it’s not opposed to doing very much that we do on the web today. Bear in mind also two things: “blind” doesn’t necessarily mean “no sight” (lots of people with poor eyesight are classified “blind” legally, but can experience the web reasonably well with the aid of magnifiers and high-contrast overlays), and “accessible” means “available to everyone (man or machine), not just people with disabilities”. Making sites accessible benefits everyone.

  14. No, and this issue isn’t remotely new; accessibility laws have existed for a long time, and web developers who are actually smart have been paying attention to them for a long time.

    How do you think photo albums are supposed to presented to blind people? There are limitations to the extent that you can reasonably expected to make alternative forms of content available, but a plain ordinary e-commerce site has nothing about it that can’t EASILY be made accessible to blind or partially-sited users: it’s sheer laziness and lack of knowledge on the part of the developers.

    In the YouTube case, blind people *should* be able to at least get the audio, the title, description, poster’s name, date, and any comments, as well as access to the usual playback controls. If captions are available and they somehow don’t intefere with the audio soundtrack, that’s good too. You can’t realistically magic the video itself in any form beyond the embedded audio or spoken captions, though, and if there are no captions supplied by the author of the video, then you can’t present those (YouTube could conceivably be forced to allow them to be supplied and presented, though).

    In the photo sharing case, it’s the same deal: you perhaps can’t view the photo, but you should be able to get all of the information ABOUT the photo, and navigate the site. You should be able to find out that I posted a photograph on Flickr publicly yesterday just as full-sighted person can.

    Beyond that, though, there’s an additional obligation level when it comes to e-commerce sites, because failing to cater for those with disabilities prevents them from taking advantage of products and services that are being sold (and it’s not like lots of places don’t have “web-only” deals and such).

    User-generated content probably itself gains an exemption in terms of the content ITSELF (because there’s a limit to how much control sites like YouTube can exert in this regard without making them useless—think of all the mobile phone camera videos that get uploaded, for example), but the sites that present the content still need to be accessible.

    Building accessible sites can sometimes be tricky, but it’s not rocket science, and it’s not opposed to doing very much that we do on the web today. Bear in mind also two things: “blind” doesn’t necessarily mean “no sight” (lots of people with poor eyesight are classified “blind” legally, but can experience the web reasonably well with the aid of magnifiers and high-contrast overlays), and “accessible” means “available to everyone (man or machine), not just people with disabilities”. Making sites accessible benefits everyone.

  15. “Now, imagine a world where every video is forced to get a transcript so that it’s accessible to blind people?”

    Uh, blind people can’t see. Deaf people can’t hear (and would need a transcript).

  16. “Now, imagine a world where every video is forced to get a transcript so that it’s accessible to blind people?”

    Uh, blind people can’t see. Deaf people can’t hear (and would need a transcript).

  17. Without a doubt, something like Mechanical Turk could do the trick. However, I think this accessibility thing is getting a little out of hand. I can’t read spanish. Should all spanish language websites be forced to translate their sites to English? Or should I be forced to translate to Spanish?
    I realize that a person cannot “learn” to see or hear, but the concept is the same. If there is no chance of you doing something, you don’t try and do it.
    If I choose to convey my art through the visible word, that’s my choice. I’ll miss out on some readers(listeners) because my site isn’t accessible to the blind. When will newspapers be forced to include a audio recording and a braille version with each paper sold?

    That all being said, I think it’s hard to argue that the web isn’t a frontier place that is the future of a lot of communications and many sites will feel the need to add accessibility options, but that’s the natural progression and shouldn’t be forced.

  18. Without a doubt, something like Mechanical Turk could do the trick. However, I think this accessibility thing is getting a little out of hand. I can’t read spanish. Should all spanish language websites be forced to translate their sites to English? Or should I be forced to translate to Spanish?
    I realize that a person cannot “learn” to see or hear, but the concept is the same. If there is no chance of you doing something, you don’t try and do it.
    If I choose to convey my art through the visible word, that’s my choice. I’ll miss out on some readers(listeners) because my site isn’t accessible to the blind. When will newspapers be forced to include a audio recording and a braille version with each paper sold?

    That all being said, I think it’s hard to argue that the web isn’t a frontier place that is the future of a lot of communications and many sites will feel the need to add accessibility options, but that’s the natural progression and shouldn’t be forced.

  19. As I said in my Twitter replies to you, if I, as a blind person can successfully play your videos and understand the content of them, then you’ve made your content accessible to me.. For those who are deaf, a transcript is needed. There’s also something called reasonable accommodation, in which the accommodation must be reasonable. So if the price is too high for a transcript, and it’s not reasonable, you find a more reasonable solution.

    A friend of mine does videoblogs in sign language, and accommodates me, and those who can’t understand sign language by providing a summary of her main points. That’s what’s reasonable for her to do.

  20. As I said in my Twitter replies to you, if I, as a blind person can successfully play your videos and understand the content of them, then you’ve made your content accessible to me.. For those who are deaf, a transcript is needed. There’s also something called reasonable accommodation, in which the accommodation must be reasonable. So if the price is too high for a transcript, and it’s not reasonable, you find a more reasonable solution.

    A friend of mine does videoblogs in sign language, and accommodates me, and those who can’t understand sign language by providing a summary of her main points. That’s what’s reasonable for her to do.

  21. Although I doubt that this applies to you, Robert, I still hope that PodTech will one day publish text transcripts of your videos, with video-snippets in this text where appropriate.
    Yes, I appreciate _seeing_ the people you talk to. But no, I can’t watch every video that’s interesting. It’s simply not possible. I watch the GigaOm show, because it’s only weekly, very well edited and has had high-profile guests on every episode so far, but I could read through the interviews and topics in half the time, watching video snippets that are embedded in the text, where necessary.

  22. Although I doubt that this applies to you, Robert, I still hope that PodTech will one day publish text transcripts of your videos, with video-snippets in this text where appropriate.
    Yes, I appreciate _seeing_ the people you talk to. But no, I can’t watch every video that’s interesting. It’s simply not possible. I watch the GigaOm show, because it’s only weekly, very well edited and has had high-profile guests on every episode so far, but I could read through the interviews and topics in half the time, watching video snippets that are embedded in the text, where necessary.

  23. More urgently, I’d be concerned if my video platform didn’t even *permit* me to add captions.

    If you’re running such a platform and you don’t, and I’m in some way looking for a legal target, you’d probably be first on my list.

  24. More urgently, I’d be concerned if my video platform didn’t even *permit* me to add captions.

    If you’re running such a platform and you don’t, and I’m in some way looking for a legal target, you’d probably be first on my list.

  25. I think personal freedom takes priority over accessibility. A personal blog is a free expression by a blogger. Nobody expects me to make my house accessible. Why would anybody expect me to make my free expression accessible. Sure when I speak I do not make a voice to text translation available. Then why would anybody expect me to make this transaltion available when I speak on the internet?

    Having said that, it may be possible to ask the bloggers who blog on behalf of an institution to make their blog accessible.

    The role of companies hosting personal expressions, such as Youtube, is not clear to me.

  26. I think personal freedom takes priority over accessibility. A personal blog is a free expression by a blogger. Nobody expects me to make my house accessible. Why would anybody expect me to make my free expression accessible. Sure when I speak I do not make a voice to text translation available. Then why would anybody expect me to make this transaltion available when I speak on the internet?

    Having said that, it may be possible to ask the bloggers who blog on behalf of an institution to make their blog accessible.

    The role of companies hosting personal expressions, such as Youtube, is not clear to me.

  27. Robert,

    Check out Redlasso’s new player. All of our broadcast media clips include closed-captioning. Just click on the CC icon in the upper right corner of the player. You can check out a sample clip here:

    http://www.myspace.com/nick_redlasso

    Many more features to talk about, but it’s good to see this issue create another opportunity for Redlasso!

  28. Robert,

    Check out Redlasso’s new player. All of our broadcast media clips include closed-captioning. Just click on the CC icon in the upper right corner of the player. You can check out a sample clip here:

    http://www.myspace.com/nick_redlasso

    Many more features to talk about, but it’s good to see this issue create another opportunity for Redlasso!

  29. I think you might have two possible legality issues:

    (1) DORMANT COMMERCE CLAUSE – the internet is national thing, if not global. When I post something in Utah, people in California can read it. Am I purposely availing myself of California laws? Well, the thing is, if California makes that law, depending on its breadth, it will affect people that publish videos in other states negatively. California can’t regulate citizens in Utah, Nevada, New York, or any other state. They don’t have that power. So, I think, there could be a dormant commerce clause issue. And this leads to my second point.

    (2) People that can’t afford the transcripts, or amateur publishers, may just turn off their content to California readers. It’s just like the Ad-blocker firefox add-on, with the guy blocking the add-on users. Just set it up to block IP addresses from California. By doing this, you don’t come within the the constraints of California law and don’t have to abide.

    This could change things, though.

  30. I think you might have two possible legality issues:

    (1) DORMANT COMMERCE CLAUSE – the internet is national thing, if not global. When I post something in Utah, people in California can read it. Am I purposely availing myself of California laws? Well, the thing is, if California makes that law, depending on its breadth, it will affect people that publish videos in other states negatively. California can’t regulate citizens in Utah, Nevada, New York, or any other state. They don’t have that power. So, I think, there could be a dormant commerce clause issue. And this leads to my second point.

    (2) People that can’t afford the transcripts, or amateur publishers, may just turn off their content to California readers. It’s just like the Ad-blocker firefox add-on, with the guy blocking the add-on users. Just set it up to block IP addresses from California. By doing this, you don’t come within the the constraints of California law and don’t have to abide.

    This could change things, though.

  31. Okay, maybe don’t legislate it, but is it really that bad an idea to provide accessible content? You are alienating entire groups of people not because they don’t WANT to learn about what you’re saying, but because they CAN’T and you are choosing not to give them that ability.

    That’s kind of sad, really.

  32. Okay, maybe don’t legislate it, but is it really that bad an idea to provide accessible content? You are alienating entire groups of people not because they don’t WANT to learn about what you’re saying, but because they CAN’T and you are choosing not to give them that ability.

    That’s kind of sad, really.

  33. It should be up to the business/individual is they want to provide this stuff, the govt. shouldn’t force us to fork up thousands of dollars to do this. If they really want to help take a million bucks out of their budget and invest in technology that will automatically make transcripts.

  34. It should be up to the business/individual is they want to provide this stuff, the govt. shouldn’t force us to fork up thousands of dollars to do this. If they really want to help take a million bucks out of their budget and invest in technology that will automatically make transcripts.

  35. It depends on how you look at this issue. On one hand, you could argue that its expensive and unreasonable to demand. On the other hand, you’re opening up your content to additional people. If that additional segment is large enough, it may actually generate profit.

    At the very least, making your site accessible, will help the search-engine ranking especially with upcoming video search engines.

  36. It depends on how you look at this issue. On one hand, you could argue that its expensive and unreasonable to demand. On the other hand, you’re opening up your content to additional people. If that additional segment is large enough, it may actually generate profit.

    At the very least, making your site accessible, will help the search-engine ranking especially with upcoming video search engines.

  37. So social media (like IP video/IPTV, vlogs, etc.) should be exempt from the FCC rules that apply to traditional broadcast media – right? No closed captioning (*digital* closed captioning if your TV has a digital tuner), no alternative language option, no audio descriptors for visual content and no special tags for web content that assist visually or audio impaired audiences? While government regulation of technology and media is rarely effective or timely, why not form a standards group amongst the best and brightest technologists in the social media/network community and propose scaleable/extensible standards that address access issues? (The same voluntary standards group should deal with 411, 911 and other emergency notification issues that the traditional voice carriers are required to support and the new IP voice service providers all disclaim.) I’d nominate Tom Evslin to chair a social media access/emergency standards group.

  38. So social media (like IP video/IPTV, vlogs, etc.) should be exempt from the FCC rules that apply to traditional broadcast media – right? No closed captioning (*digital* closed captioning if your TV has a digital tuner), no alternative language option, no audio descriptors for visual content and no special tags for web content that assist visually or audio impaired audiences? While government regulation of technology and media is rarely effective or timely, why not form a standards group amongst the best and brightest technologists in the social media/network community and propose scaleable/extensible standards that address access issues? (The same voluntary standards group should deal with 411, 911 and other emergency notification issues that the traditional voice carriers are required to support and the new IP voice service providers all disclaim.) I’d nominate Tom Evslin to chair a social media access/emergency standards group.

  39. This is totally missing the point of the Target case. Target runs a business that sells things to people. They have brick-and-mortar stores that are required by ADA to be accessible. There is no reason that an e-commerce site should be inaccessible to people with disabilities, and there are plenty of e-commerce sites which are accessible. Excluding disabled people in this scenario sure looks a lot like discrimination.

    Glibly saying, “will visual art museums be sued by the blind under ADA?” is not clever or original at all.

  40. This is totally missing the point of the Target case. Target runs a business that sells things to people. They have brick-and-mortar stores that are required by ADA to be accessible. There is no reason that an e-commerce site should be inaccessible to people with disabilities, and there are plenty of e-commerce sites which are accessible. Excluding disabled people in this scenario sure looks a lot like discrimination.

    Glibly saying, “will visual art museums be sued by the blind under ADA?” is not clever or original at all.

  41. But ‘totally missing the point’ is Robert’s calling-card. Create a storm, get suckers to comment city and send in traffic, send in the correction later.

  42. But ‘totally missing the point’ is Robert’s calling-card. Create a storm, get suckers to comment city and send in traffic, send in the correction later.

  43. First, quit talking about “transcripts.” Captioning is how you make video accessible. And yeah, if you’re running a video “industry,” you need to grow up and make your videos accessible. Watched TV lately?

    Now, home videos are quite another matter.

    And at some point you’ll notice that the Target lawsuit involves accessibility for blind people, not deaf.

  44. First, quit talking about “transcripts.” Captioning is how you make video accessible. And yeah, if you’re running a video “industry,” you need to grow up and make your videos accessible. Watched TV lately?

    Now, home videos are quite another matter.

    And at some point you’ll notice that the Target lawsuit involves accessibility for blind people, not deaf.

  45. Before the internet became video-enabled, us Deaf people were empowered to be on a level playing field with the rest of the world. Since the proliferation of vlogs & videos, the communication barriers have slowly grown every day – leaving us marginalised once again as it is in the physical world. I would welcome some legalisation to prevent closed captioning becoming an afterthought. Not only it will make accessible for deaf people, there are people with ESOL who would like to read captions in case they might not understand the person’s accent.

    I would advocate businesses and governmental services to caption their videos. Can’t see it being enforceable on the home vlogging front so YouTube will be safe. All we can ask of you vloggers is to caption your vlogs or provide a transcript as a gesture of goodwill and in the spirit of freedom across the internet so the internet is not disabling us Deaf people.

  46. Before the internet became video-enabled, us Deaf people were empowered to be on a level playing field with the rest of the world. Since the proliferation of vlogs & videos, the communication barriers have slowly grown every day – leaving us marginalised once again as it is in the physical world. I would welcome some legalisation to prevent closed captioning becoming an afterthought. Not only it will make accessible for deaf people, there are people with ESOL who would like to read captions in case they might not understand the person’s accent.

    I would advocate businesses and governmental services to caption their videos. Can’t see it being enforceable on the home vlogging front so YouTube will be safe. All we can ask of you vloggers is to caption your vlogs or provide a transcript as a gesture of goodwill and in the spirit of freedom across the internet so the internet is not disabling us Deaf people.

  47. A friend of mine has trouble typing and has voice activated software for her computer. It recognizes what she says and types it up for her. Another option is for video makers to type up the transcript themselves. I think it is unfair to say the only way to make transcripts for videos is to hire someone. Making things accessible to more people is a good idea, I think that enforcement laws would give people the push they need to do the right thing.

  48. A friend of mine has trouble typing and has voice activated software for her computer. It recognizes what she says and types it up for her. Another option is for video makers to type up the transcript themselves. I think it is unfair to say the only way to make transcripts for videos is to hire someone. Making things accessible to more people is a good idea, I think that enforcement laws would give people the push they need to do the right thing.

  49. DotSub.com would fill the technology gap needed while also providing access in hundreds of languages. There are ways to make video more available to everyone, although I’m not sure if California will be the one to force it on us.

  50. DotSub.com would fill the technology gap needed while also providing access in hundreds of languages. There are ways to make video more available to everyone, although I’m not sure if California will be the one to force it on us.

  51. This is just typical politically correct bs. What about the blind? Will the same sites have to be shut down because blind people can’t see the videos? There’s no way to make the videos accessible to blind people.
    Sure, measures can be taken for navigation for the blind, but nothing can be done about the content of a site, if that content is visually oriented.
    Likewise for the deaf, sometimes things that go on with audio are for affect, and not just something you can put in a transcript. It seems ridiculous to try to legislate this.
    And after all, isn’t this free speech? For expression?

  52. This is just typical politically correct bs. What about the blind? Will the same sites have to be shut down because blind people can’t see the videos? There’s no way to make the videos accessible to blind people.
    Sure, measures can be taken for navigation for the blind, but nothing can be done about the content of a site, if that content is visually oriented.
    Likewise for the deaf, sometimes things that go on with audio are for affect, and not just something you can put in a transcript. It seems ridiculous to try to legislate this.
    And after all, isn’t this free speech? For expression?

  53. Well, in my opinion, it makes your site more accessible on other people not just on ordinary people and will also help the search-engine ranking especially with upcoming video search engines.

  54. Well, in my opinion, it makes your site more accessible on other people not just on ordinary people and will also help the search-engine ranking especially with upcoming video search engines.

  55. Choosing a venue for a blind date can be tricky. By definition, blind dates involve meeting someone you have limited or no blind date uncensored information about, so the best option is probably to keep it neutral and pick a universally popular dating location. A coffee date, drinks at a pub or a quiet dinner at a restaurant are safe options for blind dating.

  56. Choosing a venue for a blind date can be tricky. By definition, blind dates involve meeting someone you have limited or no blind date uncensored information about, so the best option is probably to keep it neutral and pick a universally popular dating location. A coffee date, drinks at a pub or a quiet dinner at a restaurant are safe options for blind dating.