Making deaf children matter

Musings and blogs from a deaf campaigner

BBC’s online video content: where are the subtitles?

Posted by Ian Noon on September 5, 2008

It doesn’t take much to turn me into an angry deaf man, but to do it in super-speedy-time, all you need to do is say these three words:

Online video content.

By which I mean those little videos snips that you can now watch online on many news websites. Technology is amazing. Yet not quite so amazing that any of these websites launched their online video content without working out how deaf people were going to access it and actually putting it into place before they launched it. I very very rarely see any online video content with subtitles even though the technology to do this now seems to be out there. And what makes me doubly annoyed is that there is often no written content to accompany it, like a transcript or a summary.

I’ve been feeling a bit disgruntled about this for a while but yesterday I saw a video piece on the BBC online news website featuring some deaf children and cochlear implants. Without subtitles! Or any written content!

To put it in other words, there is a very good chance that the deaf children featured in the story would not have been able to understand what was being said about them.

I also understand that at the end of the piece that the reporter suggests that cochlear implants are controversial with “sign language users”. Well, if a deaf person wanted to question this or clarify this, the lack of subtitles means that the BBC has effectively denied a right of reply.

I personally think it’s outrageous and incredible that the people who put this on the website didn’t realise this, or if they did, put it on without a transcript. And it’s also really disappointing because the BBC does have a really good story to tell on access. They’re the first channel to subtitle everything on TV on their main seven channels. Their producers have really made an effort to engage with deaf children and to understand their needs. And they do seem committed to working out a solution to providing subtitles on online content.

But clearly there is still some way to go. And someone needs to have a word with the people who put this video on.


Disgruntled viewer from Bermondsey, London

PS. At the time of writing, there were still no subtitles or written transcript online so if you want to complain about this, you can do so here.


9 Responses to “BBC’s online video content: where are the subtitles?”

  1. […] Story: […]

  2. I’ve complained. It’s about time someone kicks up a fuss and starts subtitling BBC online content – we want EQUAL access!

  3. […] You can read Ian’s article about it here. […]

  4. Bill said

    What about us US Citizens? You know how close I had to get to my laptop speakers, and how many times I had to reply the video to understand people who speak proper English, instead the the “normal” Midwest US English Accent?

    Captions woulda helped that a bunch!

  5. […] BBC’s online video content: where are the subtitles? […]

  6. […] don’t quite understand. The BBC did the same thing a while back. Does it not occur to people doing these video stories about deafness that without […]

  7. there solutions available to public for free, as an alternative way to create content for deaf people. here is one service like that:

    using it users can add subtitles to many online streaming videos available on different websites.

  8. douglas ashdown said

    why is it that there are very few programes on yesterday which have subtitles,thankyou

  9. […] BBC online video content: where are the subtitles? The BBC were the first to have 100% subtitles on all its main programmes. Their online news videos […]

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