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Top 12 of 2012 #2 – access to social media

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As social media continues to dominate what people do online, a new digital divide is opening up between those who use social media and those excluded from them by their inaccessibility. To help remedy this, we published sociABILITY: Social media for people with a disability in March.

Funded by the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network grants scheme, the resource explains the current state of social media accessibility and guides users through getting started on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Skype and blogging.

Media Access Australia researcher Dr Scott Hollier conducted an eight-month qualitative study among people with a sensory and mobility impairment. Through this research, social media users with disabilities were able to share their tips and tricks so that others can gain access.


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European languages added to YouTube’s auto-captioning

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YouTube has this week announced automatic captions will now be available in another six languages across the video sharing network. YouTube has added its auto-captioning tool for videos in German, Italian, French, Portuguese, Russian and Dutch. The feature is already available in English, Japanese, Spanish and Korean.

While this is good news, YouTube’s automatic captions are notoriously inaccurate. They rely on Google’s voice recognition technology which is unreliable, particularly when there is background noise, music or unusual accents.

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YouTube asks users to report lack of captions

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YouTube has posted a notification on its site asking users to report videos that lack captions. The online video streaming website is asking users to fill out a form if they believe a video posted on YouTube should have captions. This follows the mandate set by the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act 2010 (CVAA)that makes it compulsory for TV networks to make closed captions available on their content online.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the US recently set a September 30 deadline for all TV networks and web video sites to caption videos it posts online. The mandate ensures captions are provided for content, to keep up with the increasing number of videos that are posted on websites, particularly by commercial networks and broadcasters.

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YouTube’s iPhone app includes closed captions

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Google has beaten Apple in the accessibility stakes by releasing its own YouTube app for the iPhone which includes a host of new features, including support for closed captions. 

The YouTube app which currently comes inbuilt in iPhones and iPads is made by Apple, and only features a tiny sample of the service’s vast video collection. The new app increases the number of videos available to mobile users and allows them to search for closed caption videos, a feature previously unavailable in the Apple version of the app. In addition to enabling closed caption search, the app also includes a 'voice search' feature, which means users can use their voice instead of typing to search.

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