Friday, November 21, 2014

Accessibility Worth Sharing (Part 2!)

Hey everyone! Did you check out last week's post? If not, you should give it a look after you've finished up here.

I left you all with what is undoubtedly the mots suspenseful cliff hanger ending known to mankind (or at the very least, to the MHKC blog). Haben Girma's TEDx talk was everything you might expect from a TEDx talk given by a disability rights attorney who is a member of the disabled community herself: thought provoking, insightful, inspiring, and as promised by TED, worth sharing.

But the problem with this talk was that, worth sharing though it may be, the very people whose rights are discussed were unable to access the video. In an interview with Nina Strochlic of The Daily Beast, Girma says that she feels that, thanks to exponential advances in communication technology, there is little she cannot do as a Deaf-Blind person. However, many have not adapted to these changes, especially when it comes to making the internet an accessible place.

“A lot of services and businesses are moving online,” says Girma, “and if they don't provide access to people with disabilities, it destroys many opportunities. It harms our right to live in this world as equals.”

Girma has been fighting to change that. Her current push to get TEDx to caption their videos was prompted by her own experience giving a TEDx talk in January this year. Prior to giving her speech, Girma was told by the organization to watch a video by TED's founder called “What Makes a Great Talk, Great.” However, there were no captions, which meant her translation software could not translate the talk into braille.

So she looked at other TEDx talks. While official TED talks are all captioned, hardly any—six percent—of the TEDx talks were. Since her talk was about disability rights and equality advocacy, she requested that it be captioned. It wasn't until April, after a lot of coercion, that captions were added.

“It's a talk by a deaf person about access for people with disabilities. Deaf and hard of hearing who wanted to view it could not get access to the talk. It was ridiculous.”

Girma has since requested that TEDx caption their videos and got a lackluster response. A TED spokesperson said that the official TED talks are captioned, but to do so for the TEDx talks would be impossible.

“These events have generated more than 50,000 talks in 40-plus languages. It would not be feasible for TED, as a small non-profit organization, to provide transcription—and English-language translation—for each of those videos.”

But Girma says it's not just about being able to watch TED videos; it's about following the law.

“To the extent they can afford and have ability to provide captions, they need to. They're legally required to,” she says. “We're interested in reasonable accommodations and whatever's commercially reasonable. We're not trying to make them go bankrupt.”

She knows that legal action may be required, but she is also working on a preventative front by teaching programmers how to provide access for the disabled community on their websites.

Now, if you haven't watched Haben Girma's talk that started it all, go take a look! What do you think?

No comments:

Post a Comment