E-standards media player wins accessibility award

2014 captioning awards

The E-standards Accessible HTML5 Media Player has won a Deafness Forum of Australia Captioning Award under the category of Online Captioning and Digital Innovation. The award was presented by Natalie Collins of Media Access Australia and accepted by Bronwyn Lapham of eWorks at the Deafness Forum of Australia awards ceremony in Sydney on 31 October.

About the awards

The captioning awards encourage better quality, frequency and wider use of captions. Captioning is the text version of speech and other sounds on, for example:

  • television
  • DVD
  • Internet video
  • cinemas and theatres
  • public places, like museums.

Captions make entertainment and other information available to people who are hearing impaired or Deaf by showing dialogue and descriptions of other sound as text overlaid on video or audio. Educators see further benefits from students being able to read the written word as well as hearing it.

About the media player

Fundamentally, the development and provision of the accessible media player means that web-based video can be made accessible to hearing impaired, low vision and compromised mobility audiences at no extra cost. The media player grew out of a National Vocational Education and Training (VET) E-learning Strategy funded Emerging Technology Trial. Sean Norrey of Kangan Institute tendered for funding to define a way of adding closed captions to web-based video. The aim was to make that process easy so that VET practitioners could conform to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines V2.0, as recommended in the E-standards for Training, one of the national initiatives managed by eWorks.

The results showed that additional funding was merited to add to the player’s functions, which have been enhanced to include the following features:

  • The person viewing the video has control of the colour and size of captions displayed; both foreground and background colour, and background transparency
  • All functions can be controlled using a keyboard
  • There is support for a timed MP3 file to provide audio description
  • The ability to stream YouTube, so there is no need to host video
  • The ability for the viewer to choose between different closed caption files if the publisher has provided options. This supports alternative languages.
  • The ability to customise the video player interface art—the controls—to fit with an existing website design
  • If the viewer chooses to print the page, a transcript is generated from the caption file. The transcript can have still images positioned at time points defined by the publisher.

The player is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia license. This means it is free for anyone to use as long as the original author and the funding is identified, and if changes are made the player must be published under the same license.

The player is undergoing final testing, but can be viewed on the staging page, and will be available for download on GitHub when testing is complete.

eWorks and E-standards for Training congratulates all of the finalists and winners of the Captioning Awards. We would also like to thank the Deafness Forum of Australia for hosting this important event and Media Access Australia for their nomination.