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.