The CAPTIONING SUCKS!
“Real Science” Campaign
CAPTIONING SUCKS! is an activity of the Open & Closed Project, an accessibility research project we’re still trying to get off the ground.
For October ’09, we’re writing a quick-turnaround proposal for new research into captioning. We’re doing it in Canada, but it will be applicable to other countries. Our proposal is actually a counterproposal that we will offer to broadcasters, who seem to want to throw good money after bad on an unscientific “report” on captioning. You can help.
Want to read the results?
Want the history?
The events that led to the CAPTIONING SUCKS! “Real Science” Campaign stretch back a year or more. You can read about everything that’s happened so far, or just start with these important facts:
- The Canadian broadcasting regulator, the CRTC, asked the broadcast industry to write standards for captioning.
- The industry, in the form of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB), tried to get the CRTC to permit the use of scrollup captioning on every program. Then the CAB almost falsified its own research on the topic of using scrollup captioning everywhere.
A friend of the broadcasting industry in Canada – not us – received a grant from a broadcaster to produce an optimistic report on TV captioning in Canada. We’re going to counter that: Working with a university, CAPTIONING SUCKS! will research and submit a counterproposal to study captioning with unstinting scientific validity.
- A literature review and a set of research guidelines that we or other legitimate researchers could use, both of which will be published.
- A list of supporters of true scientific research into accessibility.
- And, shortly after, the first in a series of free educational sessions for captioners.
What broadcasters are planning to do
A company called Mediac has been given a grant from a broadcaster – one of the broadcasters that didn’t give us a grant – to conduct an exercise in foregone conclusions. From Mediac’s own description:
Over the course of three years, random broadcast samples will be taken at the national, provincial and regional levels to measure the quality and quantity of accessibility. “Like the first study,” said Mediac’s Beverley Milligan, “at no time will the broadcast undertakings sampled be revealed. Rather, the selection criteria will focus on getting the most favourable results.”
So: This research project won’t reveal its data (an action indistinguishable from fabricating or falsifying such data) and will explicitly produce “the most favourable results.” The amazing thing is Mediac plans to work with a recognized educational institution, Ryerson University in Toronto, which should know better.
That’s not science. It’s public relations. And we’ve got an alternative.
The Captioning Sucks “Real Science” Campaign
From early October to 21 October 2009 (a deadline the CRTC imposed on the CAB), we planned to:
- Reach an agreement with a different educational institution (we’re halfway there already)
- With that institution, apply for membership on the CAB working group
- Conduct and publish a literature review of Ryerson’s and Mediac’s existing accessibility literature
- Forge partnerships with consumer groups, including COAT, Caption Action 2, and deaf organizations
- Prepare a counterproposal for truly scientific research on captioning. (In all likelihood, industry would ultimately pay for such research.) We’ll publish that proposal online and submit it to CAB and CRTC
- File freedom-of-information requests concerning CAB’s previous research and broadcasters’ current plans
- Conduct a media blitz to get the word out
(Update, 2009.10.21: We didn’t finish every task.)
Two points worth emphasizing: We’re publishing all our work. And we definitely want our proposal to be easily adapted to other countries. We’re doing your nation’s work for you.
After 21 October, we’ll begin a series of occasional – and free – educational sessions for people who do captioning. Our first session, “Copy-Editing for Captioners,” will be announced soon. (You can come!)
Two ways to help
Next, we’ll be explaining how to contact the CRTC and the CAB to ask them to support true scientific research.
Thanks for supporting real research into accessibility. People with disabilities deserve nothing less.