End of 2012 Accessibility Review

As the year nears to end, I’d like to list some improvements with captioning accessibility and also list some things that businesses need to work on. It’s great to see some positive changes, and I’m hoping 2013 would be much more accessible.

One of earlier posts, YouTube – Apple’s Lack of Caption Support, discussed the lack of Apple’s captioning support for YouTube on iPhone and iPad. This past fall brought great news when Google developed an YouTube app that enables captioning support on Apple’s mobile devices. On iPhone you can enable captions only in the landscape mode (due to the size). Thanks to Sam Dunn who informed about this – for some reasons Google did not mention this in their blog posts:

Sam also mentions iTunes adding CC to shows in his article, TV shows on iTunes quietly add CC.

Many already know that Hulu has captioned a lot of TV shows. They also updated their app for HuluPlus on iPad to include caption support. However, only a very few movies on their website are captioned, mostly subtitled foreign films.

There are iPhone/iPad apps by ABC and ABC Family that support captioned shows, and one of them is Switched at Birth. It’s great to be able to watch captioned shows not only on TV, but also on mobile devices. Hopefully, all TV shows would have captioned apps soon.

Switched at Birth is listed as one of 10 best shows of 2012, by the way. It’s about families whose kids were switched at birth, and one of them is deaf. There are more deaf characters played by deaf actors, one of whom is Marlee Matlin. It’s a great show to spread more awareness about deafness and hearing loss and varieties in communication – some deaf characters sign, some speak, some do both.

After about 2 years of NAD lawsuit against Netflix, Netflix finally made settlement and promised to caption 90% of their streaming videos by 2013 and 100% by 2014. That’s a great step forward!

Around that time this past fall, FCC made new Internet captioning rules to require all businesses to caption all online programming that is shown on TV.

Unfortunately, Amazon violated this new law and refused to caption their online. So, several deaf and hard of hearing consumer groups filed a complaint against them at the FCC.

Hopefully, more businesses would realize that they need a common sense and empathy to make their products and services available to more customers – especially that people with disabilities make the largest minority (plus their families and friends). Deaf and hard of hearing people make 20% of the USA population, and the number is increasing. It would be much wiser for businesses to invest into accessibility than to waste money on lawsuits. There’s still a lot more work to be done to educate more businesses and individuals about the importance of good quality transcription of aural information.

Have a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year!

(Video – iPhone 4 with VRS)