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September 2006
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September Weblog

September 25, 2006

Google recently added closed captions to select videos. The captioned videos include not only educational material (as I'd expect), but also news, cultural, and entertainment videos. It's a small sample now. I'd like to see their collection grow. Captioning obviously benefits users who have difficulty hearing, but also benefits users who don't have or don't want sound enabled on their computers. This silent approach to watching videos is appropriate for public or shared settings, such as workplaces, schools, or libraries. Users in these settings won't need to worry about having headphones available or disrupting others around them. Captions, if they're stored as related text, may provide improved search methods for video content. Instead of searching on metadata, we could search the full transcript of each video. Plus, it has other side benefits, such as foreign language education. Being able to hear what is spoken and see its written equivalent on the screen reinforces comprehension and appeals to both auditory and visual learners. Closed captions are a good thing for many reasons, and I'm happy to see a major company like Google support it.

September 17, 2006

The accessibility lawsuit filed against Target recently reared its head again. The NFB claimed that Target's site was inaccessible to blind users. Target filed to dismiss the case on the grounds that the ADA does not apply to web sites. However, the judge denied the motion to dismiss the case and published an interim ruling. This doesn't mean anyone won the case yet, but it does mean the case will proceed.

The real issue I want to see addressed by this case is not whether the ADA applies to web sites, but rather, what standards of accessibility should apply to private company web sites. If there were some objective (measurable) standards, it would be easier to prove whether the site was accessible or not. It would also make it clear to businesses what is expected of them. Without established expectations and guidelines, there's no good way to address the larger dilemma of what is accessible to one person may be completely inaccessible to another person, even someone with the same disability.