Saturday, September 12, 2009

Calling All Bloggers-Stir it Up and Pass it Around!

We are lightyears behind in regard to closed captioning here in Italy, but with the new bill: H.R. 3101, The Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009 - the USofA is kicking ass.

*H.R. 3101 would ensure that individuals with disabilities have access to emerging Internet Protocol-based communication and video programming technologies in the 21st Century*

I've been researching the Bill to try to provide as much information as possible to motivate you to contact your Representatives, and I found that this blog gives the lowdown the best (Note: Jamie Berke is championing this cause on facebook):

...(This is an important topic. All of us, including the tireless Louise who has done a number of transcripts, know it's important for the hearing-impaired to have them, but it's also essential in making videos much more effective to include them. It helps them go viral. Unfortunately, unless provided, it's very time-consuming to do them as a blogger and very expensive if you pay to have them done. When it's original video (as in shot by one of us), we often post the video first and add the transcript later when we have time. It's always a balance of timeliness versus accessibility. - promoted by Pam Spaulding)

There's a way you can help. H.R. 3101 is a law requiring that some media online be made accessible - usually television or corporate produced media, but it's a huge step in the right direction and your voice on this issue could help turn this bill into the Americans with Disabilities Act of the 21st Century. Considering that education is moving to the internet (how many computer classes are based almost solely on video tutorials?), however, it's only a step. Right now it's in the Energy and Commerce committee, and has some support. Please contact your reps and ask them not only to support the bill but make it as wide-ranging as possible. It covers yesterday's needs, but not the needs of today or tomorrow.

In the process of trying to get the word out to the Deaf community about this bill, I created a very quick video blog (below) in American Sign Language and English in conjunction with SignCasts, a Deaf community journalism website, explaining some of the issues as clearly as possible and giving some idea of the numbers of captioned media online. I include it here out of interest.

Since making the video, I've heard CNN and PBS actually do have some captioned media online - but can't find it. I'm particularly concerned about news and educational programming; as a teacher, it's hard to find media accessible to everyone in the classroom. I remember vividly working with friends to subtitle Martin Luther King Jr's "I Have A Dream" speech; we were unable to find a subtitled copy. (The irony is that the same banner carried by MLK was subsequently used in a paradigm-changing protest at Gallaudet University.)

Thank you for your time. I hope you are able to help get the message out and that I have made my case clearly. Visibility is another thing my two communities have in common: we're invisible unless we speak up.

*Ditto what he said! Do something, please*
For Action Alerts click here.
Copy and Paste:
Use to write your Representative (request cosponsoring HR3101), and to write your Senator (ask for similar bill).


Anonymous said...

Thanks for making a noise.

Jean, owner of a MacBook

Unknown said...

You should feature your services/products on the West-jordan community, classifieds section

Dianrez said...

Amen! I am sending letters to my representatives and senators about this and following this through their newsletters. The more of us that keep making noise, the better...and taking this internationally will benefit far more than just us mere Americans.
Thanks, Jodi!