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Evaluating Alternatives for Better Deaf Accessibility to Selected Web-Based Multimedia

Brent Shiver and Rosalee Wolfe

The 17th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility (ASSETS 2015)
Lisbon, Portugal, October 26-28, 2015


The proliferation of video and audio media on the internet has created a distinct disadvantage for deaf internet users. Despite technological and legislative milestones in recent decades in making television and movies more accessible, there has been less progress with online access. A major obstacle to providing captions for internet media is the high cost of captioning and transcribing services.

This paper reports on two studies that focus on multimedia accessibility for Internet users who were born deaf or became deaf at an early age. An initial study attempted to identify priorities for deaf accessibility improvement. A total of 20 deaf and hard-of-hearing participants were interviewed via video phone about their Internet usage and the issues that were the most frustrating. The most common theme was concern over a lack of accessibility for online news. In the second study, a total of 95 deaf and hard-of-hearing participants evaluated different caption styles, some of which were generated through automatic speech recognition.

Results from the second study confirm that captioning online videos makes the Internet more accessible to the deaf users, even when the captions are automatically generated. However color-coded captions used to highlight confidence levels were found neither to be beneficial nor detrimental; yet when asked directly about the benefit of color-coding, participants strongly favored the concept.

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