Hot on the heels of the E-learning Industry Awards comes another prestigious award nomination for eWorks. Natalie Collins, Deputy Chief Executive of Media Access Australia, has nominated eWorks and the E-standards Accessible HTML5 Video Player for a Deafness Forum of Australia Captioning Award.
What are the Deafness Forum Captioning Awards?
As the name suggests, the Captioning Awards are annual awards for excellence in captioning. The awards encourage better quality, greater frequency and wider use of captions on television, in cinemas, DVDs, theatres, museums, live events, in schools and in public places, including—of course—the Internet. eWorks, as manager of the E-standards for Training, has been nominated under the category of Online Captioning and Digital Innovation.
What is captioning? Why bother?
Captioning is the textual representation of speech and other sounds provided on television and other video screens, including computers. People who are hearing impaired or Deaf need them so that they can access the media, and also receive information such as safety or emergency announcements. Children and students also benefit from seeing the written word as well as hearing it. Oh, and Internet video suddenly becomes discoverable by search engines.
Aren’t all video players accessible?
Unfortunately, no. There is a reason why the market isn’t flooded with fully-accessible video players. Their production requires a lot of research and time to develop and to incorporate accessibility into the technology. Those that exist to date are proprietary, expensive, or difficult to set up. Features of the E-Standards Accessible HTML 5 Video Player include:
- End user control of the colour and size of captions displayed; both foreground and background colour, including background transparency,
- All functionality can be controlled using a keyboard,
- Support for a timed MP3 file to provide audio description,
- Provision for older web browsers with an accessible Flash object,
- The ability to stream YouTube, so there is no need to host video,
- The ability for the end user to choose between different closed caption files if the publisher has provided options (supporting alternative languages),
- The ability to customise the video player interface art—the controls—to fit with existing website design
- If the end user chooses to print the page, a transcript is generated from the caption file. The transcript can have still images interspersed at designated time points defined by the publisher.
How did the accessible video player come about?
The project started as an “Emerging Technology Trial” supported by funding from the National VET E‑learning Strategy, and was the brainchild of Sean Norrey at Kangan Institute. The aim was to address the lack of an accessible video player that could be used on the platforms recommended in the E‑standards for Training, which are a set of national technical standards designed to support interoperable e‑learning content and systems in the vocational education and training (VET) sector. Subsequently, additional funding was allocated to bring the player to its current iteration.
What’s the big deal?
Fundamentally, the development and provision of the E-Standards Accessible HTML5 Video Player means that web-based video can be made accessible to hearing impaired, low vision and compromised mobility audiences at no extra cost. It is available for anyone to use under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia License. The video player has been reviewed very positively by a number of web accessibility experts.
Well done, eWorks
eWorks is one of Australia’s leading e-learning development, delivery and consultancy organisations, and manages the E-standards for Training for the Department of Industry. The 2014 Captioning Awards winners will be announced at a glittering dinner at Sydney’s Sheraton on the Park hotel, Friday 31 October. Fingers and toes crossed for eWorks!