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For six years, the Internet Nexus served as my technology blog, but I've since started blogging at the SuperSite Blog instead. If you're looking for the blog, please head there. --Paul

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Deaf Web Users Fear Being Left Behind As TV Shows Stream Onto the Internet

As the father of a deaf child, I've seen what a problem this can be:
The Internet has been a boon to deaf computer users, giving them easy access to a wide variety of information and breaking down communication barriers. But many of those users feel left behind by one of the Internet's fastest-growing segments: online video.

Though television networks and movie studios are rapidly expanding into Internet distribution, few online videos offer the closed captioning that companies are required by law to offer to TV viewers. The major networks provide full-length episodes of some of their most popular shows on the Web, including hits like "Lost" and "Survivor," but none of them include captions. Apple Computer Inc.'s iTunes store sells downloads of more than 200 TV shows, but doesn't offer versions with captions, and the company's popular iPod player doesn't support them.

The absence of online captions has emerged as a hot topic in the deaf community. The media providers say they are held back by technological hurdles, and point out that online distribution of TV content is still in its infancy. But advocates for the deaf and hard of hearing say the lack of captions is a slight, since most programs have already been transcribed to comply with Federal Communications Commission rules. They are pushing to update government regulations to cover the Internet.
My wife is particularly militant about this stuff, as you might imagine. Hopefully Apple and other companies will address this issue quickly.
[ Posted at 1:24 PM | Permalink ]


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