Marking the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Mohawk College researchers and Inclusive Media and Design are announcing the availability a new captioning tool for accessible media production.
This year, the United Nations is recognizing this day by challenging the global community to immediately respond to the challenges of the global COVID-19 crisis through the open, inclusive and innovative use of digital solutions, tools and resources.
The new software, CapScribe 2, can help educational institutions rise to the United Nations challenge. The newly developed tool will make it easier to add closed captions to videos, removing a key barrier to online accessibility for the millions of Canadians who need to read instead of listen to content online.
CapScribe 2 provides a more efficient, intuitive, and accessible way to create captions for online video. The tool is available for free for educational institutions.
The web-based tool has been co-developed as part of an 18-month applied research collaboration between Mohawk College’s Accessible Media Production graduate certificate program and Toronto-based Inclusive Media and Design. The partnership was made possible thanks to funding from the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund (BAF).
“This collaboration with Mohawk with the support from BAF came at a crucial time to ensure the continuation of CapScribe,” said Rob Harvie, Director and Founder of Inclusive Media and Design. “The original CapScribe product was limited to Mac and Apple no longer supports the architecture it was based on. Without this project, CapScribe would simply fade away.”
Interest and consumption of online videos has increased significantly in recent years and the COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated the wide-spread use of video throughout society. Closed captioning ensures that the content in the videos is accessible to everyone. While the primary users of captions are people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, captions can also benefit ESL speakers or anyone watching video without sound.
“With the rapid move to online learning and working, the need for accessible digital content is now more important than ever,” explains Jennifer Jahnke, lead researcher on the project and Program Coordinator for the Accessible Media Production program. “Educators, in particular, will be able to use CapScribe 2 to create accurate captioning for their video content and recorded lessons.”
The accurate captioning of videos also helps content creators meet the requirements of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Additionally, within Ontario, a provincial commitment for full accessibility requires that large organizations and businesses ensure their web content is fully accessible by January 1, 2021.
CapScribe 2 was redesigned in response to a need for a closed captioning tool that would be easy to use and would reduce the time it takes to caption a video, without reducing the accuracy that comes from human translation – a common downside to automated solutions. It also helped modernize the original CapScribe platform, first created 20 years ago.
CapScribe 2 has been redesigned for web video editing use for both Mac and Windows Operating Systems. It also is compatible with the alternative access systems used by captioners with disabilities, allowing people with disabilities to be more involved in creating inclusive video content. A recently released case study highlights key features of the tool.
“The Broadcasting Accessibility Fund applauds Mohawk College and Inclusive Media and Design on the launch of CapScribe 2,” said CEO/Funding Officer Richard Cavanagh. “This initiative is a shining example of innovation, commitment and creativity ” the hallmarks of our on-going support for projects that will advance accessibility to broadcasting content for Canadians with disabilities.”
The CapScribe 2 applied research project reflects Mohawk’s focus on supporting equity and inclusion. Mohawk endorsed the Government of Canada’s Dimensions Charter last year, committing the college to principles of equity, diversity and inclusion in all aspects of academic and research activity.
CapScribe 2 is currently available for beta use by academic institutions. Access can be requested at https://capscribe.ca/2.0/
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