Monday, March 17, 2008

Making Video Accessible

Not only do we want to tell compelling stories, we want the stories to be accessible. To start, we've been looking at two things: captioning for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing (or have the volume turned down, don't have speakers and so on) and audio description for people who are Blind.

We want to make this easy for people to do with free or cheap software, but haven't found a great way to do either as yet.

You Tube isn't accessible for either, unless you add captions as subtitles and they become part of the video. Google Video has a closed caption feature. I found a service called and used this to add captions to my first digital story.

It took me a while to figure out how to both create captions then add them to Google. Here's what I did:
  • I downloaded the free Magpie and used this to add captions.
  • Then I saved the captions as plain text.
  • I opened the plain text file and deleted everything that wasn't caption text or start and stop times.
  • I downloaded the free subtitle workshop and imported the captions text file.
  • Then I saved it in "subrip" format.
  • I uploaded the video to Google Video.
  • Then I used their web features to upload the subrip caption file. Instructions for adding captions to Google video .
None of this was easy, though it was cheap (free software).

Apparently, if you download even more software, you can use the subtitle workshop to burn the captions as part of the video, instead of a separate file. I haven't tried this but Jared has and he described how it worked.

I also uploaded a video using My first digital story is there with captions. A learning curve here too. I heard about this on a blog by Proud Geek, who gives great instructions based on his own efforts to do captions. I just now found he has a post on how to use Overstream to add captions to Google Video! (Post on Sept 17, 2007).

No one seems to have an audio description feature. Of course you could try to add audio when making the video but we are using free/low cost software so this isn't possible, or at least we haven't figured out how to do it as yet. I want to try to do this using Magpie though.

So much to learn!

Friday, March 14, 2008


The first part of the Many Faces One Voice project is to educate ourselves about storytelling and the the use of technology for storytelling.

We attended a 3 day workshop in January 2008 to learn to put together digital stories. In February 2008, we'll attend a 5 day "Train the Trainer". Both the workshop and the train the trainer are from the Center for Digital Storytelling.

We'll use this information and research into affordable and accessible tools to develop a curriculum. We plan to present this to a pilot group of Michigan Disability Rights Coalition and UCP Michigan staff members in April and May 2008.

The next step is to teach people with disabilities how to tell their stories in a compelling and accessible manner using the web. We'll focus on those who are working with advocacy groups on issues of importance to Michigan's Disability Community.

We've explored some tools for captioning to make videos accessible to people who are Deaf and hard of hearing. We need to learn about descriptive video for people who are blind or low vision. This blog has been created to share our journey