Deaf or hearing impaired

Q&A: How SMS aids Deaf research and communication

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Media Access Australia spoke with Erin Walsh and Meaghan Arundell from the Australian National University ahead of their presentations at the Australian and New Zealand Communication Association (ANZCA) conference in Melbourne on how SMS is being used as a research and communication tool for people who are Deaf or hearing impaired.

The conference, being run at Swinburne University’s Hawthorn campus from 9-11 July, tackles a diverse range of issues in the media and communication space, including issues around disability and media access.

Digital media and technology: 

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Winners of US Awards for Advancement in Accessibility announced

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America’s communications regulator, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced the winners of the 2014 FCC Chairman Awards for Advancement in Accessibility.

The awards, presented at the M-Enabling Summit, seek to recognise innovators who develop communications technology for people with disabilities.

This year, seven award categories were available, including Advanced Communication Services (ACS), Employment Opportunities, Closed Captions, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Mobile Web Browsers, Social Media and Video Description.

The winners were:


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Captioned World Cup

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Local coverage of the world’s largest sporting event in the world, the FIFA World Cup starting in Brazil on 12 June (13 June Australian time), features many hundreds of hours of captioned content over the month-long competition.

Broadcaster SBS has the rights to the World Cup and will be showing matches on both SBS1 and SBS2 with live coverage, repeats and highlights packages. Most coverage is captioned, with the exception of some of the games that are entirely within the Midnight to 6am exclusion zone. However, when those matches are repeated later in the day, they will appear with captions. The captioned coverage also includes two feature programs, The Full Brazilian and the 2014 FIFA World Cup Show.


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Skype Translator offers real time voice translation

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Microsoft has demonstrated a new application, Skype Translator, which provides near real-time voice and caption translation of different languages.

The application was announced this week and demonstrated using a conversation between an English speaker and a German speaker. A video of the Skype Translator at work is available on Microsoft’s official blog.

In addition to helping break down language barriers between people of different nationalities, the application and its under-pinning technology also has the potential to break down barriers for people with disabilities.

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The digital accessible cinema chain: Part 1 – The overall picture and stakeholders

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In this three-part series, Media Access Australia project manager Ally Woodford looks at the stakeholders and roles they play in making movies accessible.

The path a movie takes from its concept to delivery on screen can take many years, whether it is a Hollywood ‘blockbuster’ produced by a major movie studio or an independent movie produced on a limited budget. Filming and post-production alone may take18 months and accessibility of the end result will not be a consideration during this time.


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UK theatre captioners receive research funding

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UK charity Nesta has just announced its latest round of funding recipients under its Digital Research and Development Fund for the Arts. One of the recipients is the UK’s premier arts captioning organisation, Stagetext. 

Stagetext is developing CaptionCue, an automated caption cueing system which will make it cheaper for venues to offer captioning for certain theatre productions to Deaf and hearing impaired arts patrons.  The system is being developed in London by Stagetext with Screen Subtitling Systems Ltd and Dr Pablo Romero-Fresco of Roehampton University.


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Google Glass apps for people with disability trialled by Telstra

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The potential benefits of Google Glass for people with disability are becoming a reality thanks to a partnership between Telstra and app developers b2cloud.

Two Telstra employees – Kelly Schulz, who is blind, and Peter Miller, who is hearing impaired – were each given a Google Glass device with assistive apps installed. “These apps have been developed to see what could be done with technology to make the lives of hearing and vision impaired people a little easier,” said Telstra on its blog.


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UK media regulator releases first caption quality report

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On October 2013, the UK communications regulator Ofcom announced that it would be requiring broadcasters to measure and report on the quality of their live captioning, with four reports to be completed at six-monthly intervals over the next two years. The first of these reports has now been released.

Broadcasters are required to measure quality in sample of programs from three genres: news, entertainment and chat shows. The dimensions of quality to be measured are:


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A look into the future of captioning

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Advances in technology have the potential to streamline the captioning process and make captioning more affordable without sacrificing quality, according to an article by Hewson Maxwell of Red Bee Media.

With levels of captioning increasing around the world, broadcasters and caption suppliers are always looking for ways to increase efficiency and reduce costs. In The future of pre-recorded subtitling, Hewson notes that the most time-consuming part of captioning is the creation of accurate text. In recent years, speech recognition technology has increasingly been used to caption live programs, however, there are still severe limitations on the process.


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Results of our survey on multichannel captioning

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A survey conducted by Media Access Australia has found that levels of captioning on commercial multichannels, which include 7Two, Go! and One, remain below 50 per cent.

The survey looked at programs screened between 6am and midnight from 5 to 11 April 2014. During that period, the highest captioning percentage recorded on a commercial multichannel was 57 per cent on the Nine network’s Gem, while the lowest was 23 per cent on the Ten network’s One.

By contrast, captioning on the ABC’s three multichannel’s, ABC News 24, ABC2 and ABC3, stood at between 96 and 100 per cent.


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