A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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Best Practices in Online Captioning

Use of online video has grown faster than the use of accessibility in online video. Though bandwidth costs for video files can still be high compared to ordinary text-and-graphics Web pages, it is nonetheless easy to digitize video and post it online. It's easier to broadcast your video to the world via the Internet than it is to get the same video on television. Online multimedia are a useful and valid new medium of communication - for most people.

Clark, Joe. JoeClark.org (2004). Design>Accessibility>Multimedia>Video


Captioning for QuickTime

There are two methods for adding captions in QuickTime. There are advantages and disadvantages to each approach. The first allows you to maintain a single file, making the captioned video easier to distribute. The second approach allows you to easily deliver a captioned and non-captioned version of your movie, but requires an understanding of SMIL (it's not too hard).

WebAIM (2003). Design>Multimedia>Accessibility>Video


Captioning for RealPlayer

RealPlayer uses SMIL to combine media content with a RealText (.rt) file. The .rt file contains the captions themselves and information about how and when they should appear. The SMIL file is really just a pointer file. It contains information about where and how your captions and media content should display.

WebAIM (2003). Design>Multimedia>Accessibility>Video


Captioning for Windows Media

Windows Media Player adds captions using Microsoft's Synchronized Accessible Media Interchange (SAMI). SAMI, like SMIL, which is used by Quicktime and RealPlayer, is an XML-based text language. A SAMI file contains the captions and definitions for how and when the captions should display.

WebAIM (2003). Design>Multimedia>Accessibility>Video


Captions and Audio Descriptions for PC Multimedia

This article discusses the various types of captions, when to use captions, as well as the various types of audio descriptions.

Microsoft (2002). Design>Multimedia>Accessibility>Audio


Flash Access: Unclear on the Concept

In Christian theology, it doesn’t matter exactly when you accept Jesus Christ as your personal saviour. As long as you do it before you croak and ask forgiveness for your sins, you’re in like Flynn. This, apparently, is the Macromedia philosophy when it comes to accessibility. The company’s flagship product, Flash, is intrinsically inaccessible to anyone who cannot see properly and is very often inaccessible to a deaf or hard-of-hearing person. It’s also completely inaccessible on slow computers or any machine that lacks the Flash plug-in, rendering those viewers more functionally disabled than they actually are.

Clark, Joe. List Apart, A (2001). Design>Accessibility>Multimedia


Flash MX: Moving Toward Accessible Rich Media

Macromedia released Flash MX in mid-March of 2002, including enhancements to the player and the authoring tool to improve accessibility for people with disabilities. Admittedly, some areas like screen reader access couldn’t possibly get any worse than they were in previous versions of the player: popular screen readers such as JAWS and Window-Eyes ignored Flash content completely. Other features, such as the ability to add captions (which has been available since Flash 5), benefit from improvements Macromedia made to the Flash architecture in this release. The changes have also automatically improved access to existing Flash content when viewed in the Flash Player 6, but to maximize Flash accessibility for your users you’ll need to publish content from Flash MX.

Kirkpatrick, Andrew. List Apart, A (2002). Design>Accessibility>Multimedia


Flash Usability

Those succeeding with Flash usually apply it as an element and mix it with other technologies or images such as streaming audio and video, GIF, JPG, DHTML, and CGI to name a few. Determine what elements you need on your site and study the strengths and weaknesses of each technology to determine which option would work best for each element. You're in good shape if you can use Flash without sacrificing accessibility, readability, navigability, usability, searchability, and ability to update.

Evans, Meryl K. Digital Web Magazine (2002). Design>Accessibility>Multimedia>Web Design


Making Video Accessible

With online video’s increasing popularity comes an increased need to maximize content accessibility, whether for the handicapped or those who use exotic browsers / platforms. However, this doesn't mean you must offer twenty different versions of your media player. A clever combination of formats, the SWFObject javascript and the JW FLV Player can do the job quite nicely.

LongTail Video (2009). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility>Multimedia


Media Player Accessibility

When delivering multimedia content for the three major media players (Windows Media Player, Quicktime and RealMedia Player), the developer must choose whether to have the viewer access the content through a player embedded in a Web page or through a standalone player. Both methods have their advantages. Embedding the player in a Web page allows the user to access the content without another application opening. The standalone players usually have more control options.

WebAIM (2005). Design>Multimedia>Accessibility>Video

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