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

A nice man from the BBC emailed me very quickly after I complained about the lack of subtitles on an online video story about deaf children and cochlear implants, which I talked about in my most recent blog. Here’s what they had to say:

I’m afraid we simply don’t have the technology to provide subtitles on online videos, although I know that a limited pilot project is still under way. We could and should have added a transcript but that’s really down to lower staffing levels.

This has been discussed in the past and I admit not much progress has been made. The simple answer is for the people who make the reports in the first place – this one came from Nottingham – to be aware of the issues and to make a copy of their written scripts etc available. Interestingly this is the second complaint on this topic I have dealt with today.

I will take this up and will speak to my colleague who looks after disability issues to see if there’s some way of communicating to all our journalists the importance of providing a more accessible multimedia version of stories such as this.

Many thanks for raising it.

On the one hand, at least they recognise the problem and sound sufficiently contrite.

Still… its depressing that even after at least three people have complained about it, there is still no transcript on the webpage accompanying this story. Deaf children and adults are still being denied access to a story about deaf children, and denied a right of reply if they disagree with the report. And there remains the principle of access to all online video content, and not just those which are of particular interest to deaf people.

Accessibility of online video content is going to be an issue I suspect will crop up again and again. It’s now on NDCS’s campaigns radar and is something I hope to do some research into.

In the meantime, we’ll be keeping an eye out for more examples of inaccessible online video content.


A still disgruntled viewer from Bermondsey


3 thoughts on “Update – BBC’s online video content: where are the subtitles?

  1. SEE HEAR created the problem initially. A few years ago in-vision titling was the norm, hence any transference to online would automatically include the captions. Deaf they say wanted choice as to if, signed access or captioned access was available, so titles are added differently via transmission of the program, but they create issues with iplayer then. The answer is simple, bring back, in-vision captions. No more problems, and as SEE HEAR also puts out another copy of itself ata different time with no captions in it, therein lies the problem. Sign users can watch at anytime, others can’t. The tecnology isn’t the realproblem, it is the fudged access at SH.

  2. It seems like the BBC are more concerned about getting HD online than subtitles. It annoys me that programmes I do want to watch have no subtitles but there is the option to watch it in HD!?!? sometimes it takes 3-4 days before the subtitles are avaible . I want to watch the programme right now – not when you decide I can watch it!

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