Wednesday, December 17, 2008

YouTube not for Everyone

I am starting my HCI course at Penn and coincidentally some of my last lectures in my Stevens courses deal with HCI issues.  One of my students in my Stevens Software Engineering course, Todd Bernstein, sent me this perceptive email that I thought I would share with you concerning YouTube and other on line video sites.

Does the 1998 amendment to Rehabilitation act extend to online videos? I am surprised that captions are not available on the many videos posted on the web. At the very least, I think the big networks sites should have them. I know many elders would benefit from this as well as the hearing impaired population. With the explosion in video on the web, I think it would make sense to have a inclusive reach to the audience and include language translations as well but that may be out of the scope of the Rehabilitation act.

Since I am in the midst of tests and papers I have not had a chance to investigate it but my bet is it does not since the Law pre-dates the site.  As Todd points out, this limits the population that can view the site and given the role these on line video sites played in the election, it makes accessibility difficult to a significant part of the electorate.  Of course this would be an expensive process, but it could also be a differentiator and a subtle way to advertise (close captioning provided by ...).  I would like to collect opinions on this.

By the way, if you would like to follow my lectures at Penn, you can download them at my home page here.

Hopefully since I am correcting a ton of logbooks and have some free time between semesters, the posts should increase again.   Later!