Bob Douglas

Engineer, Oracle Corporation

This conversation is closed.

Ted videos have closed captioning for the deaf.

I have recently gone deaf and rely upon CC to view videos. Please consider adding CC to all the videos as the Google translate does not work.

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    Dec 8 2011: Dear Bob,

    TED provides a full transcript of the talk, as Emily mentioned.

    But I would like to know, if this works well for deaf people or if you would prefer to have "real" subtitles (i.e. shorter sentences, easier to read, but not showing every word). I am asking this because we are having this discussion among the translators.

    Thank you.
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      Dec 8 2011: Katja,

      I speak for a very small portion of the deaf community. My hearing was lost at 50+. I prefer subtitles as much of the pertinent content is visual. Transcripts are great when in depth study is required. That being said your idea to shorten the subtitles is wonderful especially for those times the speaker is flying through the talk. When there are too many words it can be hard to follow and you can forget watching the video portion. If I may suggest one option to consider would be to offer a choice to proportionally slow down or even study pausing the video to accommodate the length of subtitles. I would prefer investing in spending a little more time than having to rewind or watch it twice.

      Thanks for your concern.
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      Dec 8 2011: Hi Katja,

      One more request. Would it be possible to either list the talks that are CC or include a small CC icon so that we don't have to go into the page and wait for the talk to start prior to learning that it's not available. I.e., Cheryl Hayashi talk.

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    Dec 8 2011: should allow volunteers to record Sign Language translations into optional window, that could be launched simultaneously.
    Many deaf people don't read well, since written english is a transcription of sounds, and since english is not their native language.
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    Dec 7 2011: Hi Bob -- thanks for writing! Almost all TED videos are captioned and paired with an interactive transcript. It usually takes us a few days to get the transcript made and edited (we're working to get faster at this).
    You can see the captions and transcript on this talk:
    Look below the video player window and find the small gray type that says "Subtitles Available in" and choose "English." As the days go by, each talk is also translated into 80+ languages by our volunteer translator team.
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      Dec 8 2011: Emily,

      Somehow I missed that option. Maybe it was because I was watching TED youtube versions earlier.

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    Dec 18 2011: Let me say that I myself (as a person who grew up with partial hearing loss) would very much want the English subtitles to be verbatim. (The majority of people who are deaf or hard of hearing would have "normal" reading ability since the vast majority of hearing loss is acquired, not pre-lingual.)

    However, it might be useful to try offering "simplified English" as a second kind of English subtitle, converting any idioms into more straightforward English. The simplified English would probably be easier to translate into other languages.
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    Dec 16 2011: I am hard of hearing and have really appreciated the fact that started providing English subtitles some time ago. It's truly been wonderful to be able to understand all the videos on It would be helpful, however, if could wait a few days to release a video until the English subtitles are available online for them. Because it hasn't done so, many deaf and hard of hearing people aren't realizing that English subtitles will eventually be provided, and may not realize that will actually eventually be accessible to them.

    People who have trouble reading subtitles quickly eventually learn that they can pause the video frequently to let themselves read the subtitles. However, it would be helpful if there was an Accessibility link on the home page that could be used to provide this kind of information about accessibility.

    Let's make a distinction between closed captioning and subtitles. Ted provides *subtitles* in different languages, and starts off with English subtitles, which may then be translated into different languages. However, in North America, "closed captioning" can mean something different. IP-delivered videos *can* actually contain closed caption data that can be decoded by U.S. televisions and other devices with built-in caption decoding, like the Apple iPhone and iPd Touch.

    An important advantage of setting one's hardware to decode closed captioning is that no further adjustment by the user is needed if all the incoming media contains the closed caption data.

    One potentially fixable problem: TED's podcasts don't currently provide the ability to show the English subtitles, but it would be possible for them to contain closed caption data that can then be decoded by Apple's software. If the English subtitles could be converted into closed caption data that's then embedded into the podcasts, doing this would make them accessible. Perhaps there's a way this could be done by machine rather than by hand.