Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Disaboom and Barack

CNN Money has an article on how Barak Obama has a profile on Disaboom, "premier resource and on line community for people living with or touched by disability." His profile notes that he has been a member since March 11, 2008.
The article notes that the profile has

"position statements, his record on disability issues, a blog detailing both campaign events and key statements, video messaging from Obama, and opportunities for Disaboom community members to ask questions of the candidate and participate in political forums."

Reviewing the blog entries, they appear to be largely press releases, and testimonials. I clicked through from his profile page on the Disabilities link and was taken to his campaign site on a section regarding disabilities. The featured video, though it says its captioned by Project Read On, there was no captioning and nothing to turn it on, nor is there a transcript. To be fair, the video channel on his site, Barack TV does have a captioning link on the right site, which allows the user to view the video in a pop up window with captioning. I was unable to find the disability video on Barack TV though.
A bit of equal time here, Hillary Clinton's site has 144 videos, of which 34 are captioned, and she uses the same Project Read on for her captioning. However, it is through a pop up reader, which is not in time with the video unless they're started at the same time.
And John McCain? Well, his site has many videos and no indication whether they're captioned (though that's not to say they're not though, but I couldn't find one that was.) On a hunch, I thought I'd check out Project Read On since his Democratic contenders are using them for captioning, but no luck.

Though not where I intended to take this post, this quick swing of the candidates sites has been interesting. Look for yourself, and see what your candidate has to say.
I have e-mailed all three campaigns regarding the captioning (or lack of it), and will keep you posted regarding the results.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Student design at Univ. of Illinois

An industrial design class at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign takes on rehabilitation engineering. Students were required to put their design skills to work to design items for their fellow students, with some positive results. <Link to Article>

I always cringe when I hear about a "disability awareness day" on a college campus or employer which has people use a wheelchair or blindfold to allow people to know what it's like to be disabled. While awareness is great, this approach likely creates more sympathy and "awareness" how difficult it must be for these poor unfortunate disabled people.
I love this project for the prime reason that it gets students to look at how to make the individual more independent, and empowered. It demands that they create solutions, rather than stopping at awareness.

New accessible technology bill on the horizon

CNET reports that there's a bill being proposed that would require greater accessibility of newer technologies, such as voice over internet protocol (VOIP) such as Skype. It also looks to require mobile devices which show video to have the ability to show captions, much like TV sets do.

Accessibility in new technolgies is definitely an area which is in need of attention. Legislation is a piece of this, however, given that the web is world wide, the legislation would impact only devices sold in the US and sites originating in the US. Consumer forces are what's driving the changes on the web, and as businesses find different models for making money through the web, accessibility can and will play a part.

As an aside, with Google's purchase of YouTube, I would love to see them put their "Do no evil" mantra to work and start making YouTube more accessible with captioning.