Closed Captioning on the Internet

Here is the summary of the lecture I presented during the centennial anniversary celebration of Philippines School for the Deaf last December 2007.

Closed Captioning is one of the important priority recommendations of Web Accessibility Initiative of World Wide Web Consortium or W3C (Priority 1-1.3 and 1-1.4) and of Philippine Web Accessibility Group Maturity Stage 1-5.

If you have AUDIO content in your website, provide written transcriptions of it. Let’s say, if an audio link of your company’s official anthem can be heard from your website, create a separate web page where the lyrics of the song can be read.

This can also be true with VIDEO clips. You may include closed captions at the bottom while the video is being played so that a deaf person can understand the conversations.

Now, what is a closed caption?
Closed caption is a text that is displayed often at the bottom of a video display that transcribes speech and other relevant sounds. As the video plays, caption describes all significant audio content and non-speech information, such as the identity of speakers and their manner of speaking, along with music or sound effects using words or symbols.

How does it help the persons with disabilities?
Closed captioning symbolized as CC, allows people who are deaf or hard of hearing to read a transcript or dialog of the audio portion of a video, film or other presentation.

Are there other people who can benefit from closed captioning?
Aside from the hearing impaired users, other people can benefit from closed captioning. These include:

  • People who want to learn new language;
  • People who are starting to learn how to read;
  • People who are in a noisy environment;

There are also some hearing people that suffer from the Central Auditory Processing Disorder. It means they confuse human voices with background noises as well as determining direction of the sound.

What is the difference between Closed Caption and Open Caption?
The term “closed” in closed captioning means that not all viewers see the captions—only those who decode or activate them. This distinguishes from “open captions,” where all viewers see the
captions, calling permanently visible captions in a video, film, or other medium “open”, “burned-in” or “hard coded” captions.

Closed caption should not be confused with subtitling although they often interchange. SUBTITLES are what we often see on DVD-Movies. Like CC, they are also seen at the bottom of the screen during
dialogues. However, subtitles can be translations of the dialogue in a foreign language while closed caption are direct transcription of speeches.

How do I put closed captions in video files?
There are two media formats that can be used in creating closed captions. One is the Synchronized Accessible Media Interchange or SAMI developed by Microsoft to be compatible with their Windows Media Player (.wmv) format. The .smi file is created to synchronize with the video. The other one is Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language or (SMIL). It is a W3C Recommended XML markup language for describing multimedia presentations. SMIL is considered as an industry standard. This language can be used on other non-Microsoft popular formats like RealPlayer (.rm), Apple Quicktime (.mov) or MPEG (.mpg or .mp4) files. It also creates a .sml file to synchronize with the video. SMIL works in all browsers including Internet Explorer while SAMI can only be viewed exclusively in IE.

Adobe Shockwave Flash videos can also be closed captioned. But the technique in putting one is by embedding it inside the flash file itself.

Windows Media Player does not support audio descriptions at this time. So the closed caption appears outside the screen and can only be synchronized as an object embedded format in a web page. RealPlayer and Quicktime formats place the closed caption inside the screen.

There are companies that create closed captions for a fee. However, there is a free software can be used to create the closed caption. It’s called Magpie 2.0 created by the The Carl and Ruth Shapiro
Family National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM). It is a research and development facility dedicated to the issues of media and information technology for people with disabilities in their homes,
schools, workplaces, and communities. You can visit their site and download their software at:

On my next blog entry, I will post an example of a close captioned video file.

Update on Airline Not Allowing Deaf Persons

Cebu Pacific Logo with Discrimination of DisabilityMy first blog entry was about the discrimination and humiliation done by Cebu Pacific Airlines against Deaf passengers.This is an update of what the Persons with Disabilities sector has been doing in reference to this incident.

  1. The National Council on Disability Affairs Sub-committee on Accessibility are discussing the formal filing of official complaint directly against Cebu Pacific Airlines. Although the government agency was previously tasked to monitor the implementation of policies, they are now empowered to lead in such activities.
  2. Mr. Stephen Alcantara, Development Manager, Regional Office – CBM South East Asia and one of those people involved in this activity said,

    The Transportation Summit people were also informed about the same. The representative of the Civil and Aeronautics Board (CAB) assured prompt action, only if the victims would formally file a complaint. While it is true that it would mean so much time and efforts, yet, if the victims will not make the initiatives, even interested and willing government people and advocates will not have the personality to move on these cases. Media reports are helpful but, if the victims will not pursue the case, no case can be processed.

  3. Because of the words spread through the Internet, another similar incident was reported in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental. Ms. Katrina Segundo filed an official complaint enumerating her horrible experience with the Cebu Pacific Dumaguete City Branch in the afternoon of October 26 last year. Their office initially refused to issue her a Boarding Pass as they deemed her “Unfit To Travel Unaccompanied” . However, after hours of negotiation, and due to her knowing her rights, she refused to cede to their “Company Policy”, and was, on the last minute, allowed to board their aircraft.
  4. The UN-CRPD group is now working on the policy level, which in effect attempt to incorporate related CRPD provisions on transportation and accessibility.

I thought this incident is only isolated in the Philippines. I read from other bloggers related to disability that a similar incident happened involving Singapore owned Tiger Airways. A group of deaf people from Melbourne, Australia has launched a discrimination case against Tiger Airways after the budget carrier insisted they travel with a carer last April.

As I have mentioned before, a deaf person can travel alone and does not need an interpreter. I hope that Cebu Pacific would clarify their policy. What must be done is to create some sort of a response mechanism in order to address matters similar to this in a structured manner aimed at a long term solution.

Yay! Next 1000 visits!

Yay! My site again reached another 1000 visits! I know I sound too silly and my happiness is too shallow. Hey! Every milestone is worth remembering and I am remembering this. 🙂

I wasn’t able to post any new entry for almost ten days because I was too busy running our deaf school. We celebrated our 10th graduation ceremonies where 36 of our deaf students marched down the aisle wearing their togas and received their diplomas. I will post some exciting articles related to that.

I also attended the “First Summer Institute on Deaf Wellnes and Formation” last May 12 sponsored by the Catholic Ministry for the Deaf People. I was with my hearing buddy Jeff. When they found out that Jeff is a CODA, they were all surprised. I heard many oohhs and wows in the crowd appreciating him. 🙂

Boy, the seminar was really an eye opener and a nerve-whacking thing. It focused on deaf abuses by hearing people and by deaf themselves. I thought I had the worst experiences when it comes to deaf maltreatment. But I learned from some participants that there are even worst cases than mine. I will post here some snippets of those in my future blog entries. 🙂

A bit of an info for me; when I post regular entries, I usually get 100 or so visits except for the testing for hearing loss which was seen by more than 150 visitors. But when I posted a video, a whooping 400 people logged in to YouTube and viewed it!  It is now seen by more than 10,000 web surfers! Thanks to the additional exposure brought about by this blog. hmmmm….

Thank you very much to all my readers. I will try my best to post at least one vlog a month. 🙂

Deaf Big Brother Housemate Evicted

Priscilla Navidad\
The results for Saturday’s Eviction Night for Pinoy Big Brother Teen Edition are in, The Deaf Dreamer of Davao, Priscilla Navidad is EVICTED!

Here is an excerpt of the article:

The Deaf Dreamer was actually all smiles when she saw the crowd outside Kuya’s house. When asked by Luis how she feels at the moment, Pris was very positive about everything. “Ok lang, para sa ‘kin masaya pa rin ako. Kasi kahit paano na nagawa ko pa rin yung dream ko. This is a very big impact for me, to be in this house. Kahit pa kung ako ang naging first evictee, I’m very happy.” (It’s Ok for me. I’m still happy. At least I fulfilled my dream. Even if I’m the first evictee, I’m very happy.) The young lady also apologized to her mom for being a “bad girl” inside the house. She knows that everything is God’s will and that He has plans for her.

Here is Priscilla’s biodata.

Frankly speaking, I’m not a big fan of reality shows especially the ones pretending to be one but with an ulterior motive of finding potential moneymaking actors and actresses to be used by a big TV network here in the Philippines. I know it’s a craze here in our country and I’m pretty sure it is worldwide. However, I don’t find it entertaining. They are being watched on TV by millions of people so they must always be conscious of what they do and say. That’s unnatural and make believe for me, a far cry from what is “reality”.

Now, why did I put an article about her here? Well, I find her story amusing. First, this is the first time they included a deaf as housemate. I think Priscilla is the first of her kind in the history of Endemol’s worldwide franchise. Second, I watched one of the episodes, where Priscilla was being interviewed by the hosts. Although she tries her very best to understand what was asked, she cannot fully grasp what was said. So she made facial gestures telling the host she has no idea what the question is about. She kept on prodding her other housemates to voice interpret for her. Well, some of them felt a bit irritated and uncomfortable about it. The host even showed exasperation by shouting at her. Third, she rarely signs. She always talk although the words are unclear at times. tsk tsk tsk

However, the good thing that came out of this is that it created awareness among Filipinos. There is a growing deaf community in our country that needs to be given equal treatment. 🙂

Deaf Stress Video

Guys, please watch this amateur video made by our deaf students at Manila Christian Computer Institute for the Deaf (MCCID). This ten-minute drama story in Open Caption shows the Deaf person’s life after graduating in college and having difficulty finding job. It has been uploaded in YouTube only a few months ago yet it already received nearly 10,000 hits and has been rated 4 Stars 15 times.

Please be reminded that this is an AMATEUR video of our students as part of their digital video editing subject. All actors are deaf even those who portray as hearing persons. Sorry for the sounds. It’s not being edited well. Also, the lead actor putting dark shades while being interviewed for a job is inappropriate. Hey, they are all amateurs. They are allowed to make mistakes, aren’t they? Let’s just cut them some slack, shall we? 🙂

Additional Information: Since we are talking about employment, I like to tell you that almost all of the deaf actors who appeared in this video are now gainfully employed in various companies in the Philippines. The lead actor Emmanuel works as a data encoder in a government agency together with Rachel Ann while the director Dianne Barcelona teaches at MCCID. Emmanuel’s mother (Clara Isabel) is now connected with a leading Philippine toothpaste company. Carlito (Emmanuel’s friend) is one of the staff of a city vice mayor and Jerson established a start-up business in computers. 🙂

To see more of our videos, please visit our YouTube video channel.

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