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[CEUD-ICT] Best practice for accessible video content (web-based)

Barry McMullin barry.mcmullin at dcu.ie
Thu Nov 14 10:36:08 GMT 2013


On Thu, 14 Nov 2013, Shane T. Hogan wrote:

> Barry, if I understand you correctly, YouTube does actually integrate
> synchronise the transcript with the time based media. Once you provide the
> captions to YouTube in an .srt file that includes the timings, or you use
> the YouTube captions editor, then it handles everything else from there.
>
> When viewing the video, you can click on the 'Transcript' option and
> YouTube will display a scrolling transcript below the video.

Hi Shane -

Thanks for that; I wasn't actually aware of that technique, so
it's very handy to know. Can you point me to an example where
that works? (I tried just on a random youtube video that did have
captions, but couldn't spot a "transcript" option; so either I'm
looking in the wrong place in the interface or it relies on
something more than just having a captions file provided.)

And of course I agree with your point on the search engine
benefits of captioning and transcripts; though this is not quite
as clear cut as it used to be. Google, in particular, are
progressively using their automatic speech recognition (which
underpins the offer of automatic captioning, when a captions file
has not been provided with the original media file) to facilitate
this. The quality of this automatic recognition/transcription is
still very variable, and rarely very satisfactory for captioning
as such; but because of the redundancy involved in the search
indexing, it actually does quite well for that purpose (even if a
word or phrase is mistranscribed one or twice, if it is central
to the content it will occur repeatedly and is likely to be
picked up correctly at least once). Of course, a proper, human
generated, transcript will always be better; and the latter can
also incorporate transcription of any audio description track
which will further enhance indexing. So proper captioning and
transcripts are certainly still a search optimisation tool; but
just not quite as definitively so as in the past.

(Incidentally, the same story applies to "scanned PDF" material
on the web: it seems that google does use OCR routinely to
attempt to index it. The OCR quality would typically not be
adequate for accessibility purposes, but on the principle that
"something is better than nothing" it does generally
significantly improve search engine indexing. I recently
experienced this for real, where I played the "search engine
optimisation" card to try to persuade somebody publishing scanned
PDF material to do properly accessible PDFs; but the response was
exactly that they had found that the documents seemed to be being
indexed in google perfectly well already!)

Best wishes - Barry.

--
Professor Barry McMullin,
Executive Dean, Faculty of Engineering and Computing
Dublin City University
   phone: +353-1-700-5432
   web: http://www.eeng.dcu.ie/~mcmullin/
   skype: barrymcmullin-dcu.ie
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