Closed Caption on Mobile Video?

6 May 2010 - 7:49am
4 years ago
7 replies
2180 reads
Marty DeAngelo
2007

A client we are working with is coming up with a project with a lot of content presented in video, and they want to make sure that a mobile audience can see the videos as well.  We're investigating the best way to present mobile to both a desktop and mobile audience but one of the concerns was how to offer an text-based alternative for those who need it.

For the non-mobile browser, we're most likely sticking with a Flash video player, which makes closed captioning easy to do; we'll most likely also include a PDF transcript option.  However, for mobile video things aren't nearly as clear.  For one thing, we need to use a non-Flash method - which makes closed captioning much more difficult to do unless we embed it into the video itself.  Which got me thinking...

Is closed captioning even a viable method of delivering a text alternative on mobile?  

Obviously it's more applicable to larger screen mobile devices like the iPhone or Droid, but what concerns me are the various smaller screen devices - namely Blackberry phones.  It seems that in order to make the closed captioning even readable, you'd have to take up so much space that you'd be in the way of the video itself.  Or if you limited the size of the closed captioning space, the words would have to change so rapidly it would be unreadable.

And using a PDF as the text alternative is also problematic because most Blackberry devices do not come with a default PDF reader - so a large portion of our audience wouldn't be able to read the text document even if they were to download it.

So, any thoughts on the viability of text alternatives for videos presented on mobile devices (iPad excepted)?  Is this such a fringe use case that it's not worth solving for (I'd say no, but that's me).

Marty DeAngelo
Director, UX
Digitas Health

Comments

6 May 2010 - 10:02am
Karen Mardahl
2009

Excellent question that I don't recall seeing before. Two top-notch resources for this type of question are

-- Stanford University's SOAP http://soap.stanford.edu/ where you can find John Foliot (T: @johnfoliot)

-- Described and Captioned Media Program http://www.dcmp.org/ where you can find Thomas Lohman (T: @thomlohman)

I am glad you close by saying "no" to your last question. :) It's good to see someone thinking of captioning from Day 1 - where it belongs.

Regards, Karen Mardahl

6 May 2010 - 4:00pm
Barbara Ballard
2005

On Thu, May 6, 2010 at 10:39 AM, Marty DeAngelo <martytdx@gmail.com> wrote:

Is closed captioning even a viable method of delivering a text alternative on mobile?  

WGBH has been working on this for quite a while, funded by the US Federal Government. Here's an outcome overview; note especially the paragraph at the bottom.

http://ncam.wgbh.org/invent_build/web_multimedia/mobile-devices

~~~~~
Barbara Ballard
__ president — Little Springs Design
__ curator — Design for Mobile
__ author — Designing the Mobile User Experience
@barbaraballard
barbara@littlespringsdesign.com
1.785.838.3003

Come join us at http://www.design4mobile.com/ Chicago 20-24 September



(((Plea
6 May 2010 - 4:39pm
ohme
2009

Not sure if they have a close-captioning feature (probably not), but it may be worth checking out Cisco's Webex iPhone app: http://webex.com/apple (the iPad video comes up first but there are 2 iPhone app videos to see here).  I have used it on my iPhone and it worked pretty well watching and listening.

If a mobile device with a smaller screen than the iPhone were to have captions, I would think it would be tough for the space reasons you mentioned.  Maybe overlay text with a semi-transparent background so that you don't feel like half the video is covered?  Maybe alternate the screen between full text close captioning and full video on a regular interval?  Neither is optimal but there has to be a way if this is worth solving.

7 May 2010 - 1:00pm
Marty DeAngelo
2007

To all - thanks for the responses - I'm going to follow-up on the resources you provided.  Additionally, I enlisted the help of some friends who work with the deaf (including a teacher at Gallaudet) who are asking around.  I'll let everyone know what else I find out.  
Thanks for the input!
Marty DeAngeloDirector, UXDigitas Health

On Thu, May 6, 2010 at 7:39 PM, Phil Ohme <philohme@gmail.com> wrote:

Not sure if they have a close-captioning feature (probably not), but it may be worth checking out Cisco's Webex iPhone app: http://webex.com/apple [1] (the iPad video comes up first but there are 2 iPhone app videos to see here).  I have used it on my iPhone and it worked pretty well watching and listening.

If a mobile device with a smaller screen than the iPhone were to have captions, I would think it would be tough for the space reasons you mentioned.  Maybe overlay text with a semi-transparent background so that you don't /feel /like half the video is covered?  Maybe alternate the screen between full text close captioning and full video on a regular interval?  Neither is optimal but there has to be a way if this is worth solving.

(((Please
14 May 2010 - 10:54pm
DonnaG
2010

Honestly, I don't have much idea about it but it think, it would be much better if they develop an application that will enable the audience especially those who uses small devices such as iPhones. And there comes a big challenge. Anyway, if they do, it's definitely worth it and beneficial.

18 May 2010 - 7:00am
Marty DeAngelo
2007

I was looking more toward having something that works on all browsers so that people didn't have to (a) download another app and (b) producers didn't have to develop for another app.
Unfortunately, much of my research has turned up nothing substantial.  Still looking, though.
Marty DeAngeloDirector, UXDigitas Health

On Sat, May 15, 2010 at 1:09 AM, DonnaG <fgyjdtjhcgy@hotmail.com> wrote:

Honestly, I don't have much idea about it but it think, it would be much better if they develop an application that will enable the audience especially those who uses small devices such as iPhones [1]. And there comes a big challenge. Anyway, if they do, it's definitely worth it and beneficial.

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22 Oct 2010 - 9:02pm
Marty DeAngelo
2007

Just wanted to follow up on this by mentioning that President Obama passed the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act.  This act, among other things, mandates that by 2014 mobile phone web browsers, text messaging, and e-mail on smart phones be fully accessible and ensures that Internet-enabled mobile phones are hearing aid compatible.  So, the video captioning will actually be mandated by law in the near future.

There's a little more information available at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130433486 and http://www.phoneplusmag.com/news/2010/10/new-technology-access-law-benefits-blind-hearing.aspx

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