AOL Adds Closed Captioning For Video

    July 21, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

AOL is testing closed captions for streaming news content from CNN aimed at enhancing the online media experience for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. The captioned content will be available through all AOL channels, which includes its network, service, Web portal and video portal.

The company had offered synchronized text transcripts for CNN news updates, but transcripts were limited to anchor scripts. AOL is now manually captioning CNN content, which will add current events and entertainment. Captioning for additional video content will be added over the coming months.

AOL solicited the aid of WGBH’s Media Access Group, an organization that develops technologies and services for media accessibility. The initiative is funded by a grant from NEC Foundation of America, which supports programs with national reach and impact in assistive technology for people with disabilities.

“Online captioning is a central accessibility issue for the deaf community and hard-of-hearing community and we are excited to be at the forefront of the movement,” said Tom Wlodkowski, Director of Accessibility, for AOL.

Similar to closed captioning for television, AOL captions are displayed directly beneath the video window and correspond to the audio content. The service is activated by clicking on the “CC” button on AOL’s media player.

“Captions are an essential tool for deaf and hard of hearing people and now AOL’s captioned videos will enable them to better comprehend what they’re seeing and hearing on the Web,” said Joseph Gordon, Committee Chair, for the League for the Hard of Hearing.

Claude Stout, Executive Director for TDI called AOL’s initiative “a rare instance,” claiming that accessibility options often have to wait for government regulation.

“It’s been difficult for [the hearing impaired] to enjoy video content on the Web,” said Cheryl Heppner, Executive Director, for the Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons. “[N]ow they’ll be able to understand the audio component of streaming video.”


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