Random Thoughts and Musings by moi

Musings by a feisty, opinionated Deaf gal who wants nothing but the best for her community and her people

jeudi 25 janvier 2007

Captioning all v-logs... Really?

Jamie Berke has written twice now in the past few days to urge captioning of all video blogs, joining the small but growing chorus of calls for accessibility. Berke makes a number of good points, many of which I agree with. One I especially agree with is the need to be accessible to every segment of our community, which is crucial for our unification. After all, unity cannot happen without an understanding of where we are all coming from. I will not attempt to rebut any of her points, because they are valid and I logically agree with them.

BUT there's a double standard at work in the calls for captioning of video blogs. Consider: Have we bloggers ever been asked to provide ASL translation of our writing? I'm not aware of any requests, except for a general cry for more video entries. If there are any, they are few in number. But by not giving deaf people who do not have good English language skills access, we are denying access to a large segment of the community. Why the disparity in the calls for accessibility? The minority culture/language is always the one most asked to adapt, not the majority, and this is glaring evidence of that.

Food for thought, n'est-ce pas?


  • At 18:51, Anonymous Anonyme said…

    How true! I have been asked again and again to do ASL translation for my blogs. Unrealistic! There are some blogs I am very comfortable with writing, and there are also some vlogs I prefer to express in exclusive ASL. Let ASL be! Learn the language and culture of the Deaf!

  • At 18:56, Blogger BEG said…

    Arrgh, it's a darned good point.

    I guess I'd have to say, I see your point and I'll raise you two:

    First of all, the accomodation that either captioning or transcripts give to the deafblind is an example where the minority is the recipient of the action.

    Second, in the larger world when we demand captioning of audio materials, we are the minority recipients as well.

    By captioning vlogs (wherever possible; all would be ideal, but of course that won't happen), the hearing world can't charge that we do the same thing that they do...

    But bugger all, that's a good point. Sigh.

  • At 19:09, Blogger gnarlydorkette said…

    Yes-- I have thought of it for quite a while as well.
    I usually surf around the blogosphere and found some very interesting blog entries that just HAPPEN to be in English but the majority of that blog are in a different language. This leads to a find that many foreign-language blogs do not offer any translation to English (or any other language) for those who are inept in Italian, Arabic, Russian, etc-- SO why we, the Deaf people, feel obligated to provide English translation for those who are ASL-impaired?
    This brings up the question revelant to the foreign-language international blogs-- should we also tackle down thoe blogs as well and demand English-translation to devise a global unity?
    I am only being a Devil's Advocate.
    Hmm. So many circumstances surrounds the translation of ASL and English. But you have to also think about the time (and money?) spending in editing, captioning, subtitle software, and more. I have given this a shot and it failed for me so it is hard for me to focus on me spontaeously blogging (which I usually do) when I cannot satisfy the minority-- ASL-impaired's need to understand me.
    But then, it is your choice to determine who you want to be your readers-- everybody, from ASL-pro to ASL-learners to ASL-impaired, Deaf, HoH, oral, Hearing, CODA, whatever... or you just want a certain group.

    ***Only if Babelfish offers ASL-English translation on their website, then it will be easy for everybody!!!!***

  • At 19:14, Anonymous Anonyme said…

    I was asked to provide vlogs for some blogs. I am aware that my blog isn't fully accessible to the whole deaf community and it does bother me. I am hopeful I'll do some vlogs some day, just that I need to figure how to use the movie option of my camera and download it to the computer.


  • At 20:20, Anonymous Anonyme said…

    Here's another thought. I think Jamie meant well in her two appeals. However, she's addressing a wrong audience. She needs to recruit sponsors to invest in our language and culture.

  • At 20:27, Anonymous Janis said…

    I'm also of two minds here -- I've seen it happen with other minority languages where learners insist upon bilingual writing, and the end result is that English shoves the other language out. It happens like clockwork in Welsh and Irish environments; learners make well-meaning requests that speakers post translations, and this brings a flood of people who reply only in English, which ends up shovingthe Welsh or Irish out entirely, and yet another supposedly "bilingual" space goes English-only.

    It also has the end result of holding back or pushing out the intermediate to advanced learners who are at the stage where they positively MUST think in Welsh or Irish-only in order to advance in their learning, and posting constant translations demolishes their (okay, OUR) own studies.

    It's nice that some vlogs are captioned, and some discussion should be entirely accessible for unity, as you said. But it's also vitally important that some people simply hold the line at ASL-only. The fact that we learners know that Cool Stuff's being discussed in ASL only is enormous motivation for us to continue.

  • At 21:08, Blogger moi said…

    Carl, have you ever been asked to do ASL translation of your written post? If not, the discrepancy is startling. I absolutely agree - if people choose to sign their thoughts, let them be. And, yup, I believe Jamie meant well too. Sponsorship? Hmm... 'S a thought.

    BEG, *grin* Your two points are intriguing. They are food for thought as well. Thanks for sharing... will hafta mull those over.

    GnarlyDorkette and Janis, wow - exactly, exactly, exactly. Janis, yeah, I have needed to be immersed in my additional languages after a certain point, so I get what you're saying there. And that's my concern exactly about the minority language getting shoved out in favor of the majority language.

    MishkaZena, ah, so there *have* been requests. Good to know. There are ways around this - you might be able to work in tandem with someone who has the time, willingness, and technical knowhow to post complementary vlogs, for example?

    Everyone, thanks for sharing - so cool to see your thoughts and responses!

  • At 21:15, Anonymous Liz Brading said…

    A very good point!!! Captioning of the vlogs will also mean accessibility for the hearing people, the majority also.

    Carl - may I ask why it is unrealistic for your written blogs to be translated into ASL? These people who are making these requests were within their rights to ask for this because their first language is ASL. So to deny their request is just like us being denied captioning of audio material. Or is there a difference? The written blogs, including this one, are inaccessible to many in the Deaf community and it is not fair.

  • At 21:20, Anonymous Janis said…

    The most important thing I think is that there be a variety -- there cannot be ALL captioned or NO captioned vlogs. We must have gateway vlogs that caption for rank beginners, and then these people will move to the captionless vlogs as their abilities improve. If all vlogs are the same(captioned or no captions), then there will be no pathway through to fluency for learners. There must must must must be a variety. Uniformity in this instance means stagnation.

    This means that captioners shouldn't advocate for everyone else to caption, and non-captioners shouldn't advocate for a completely captionless world for ASL vlogs. There MUST be variety. Learners who are watching Carl's vlogs will have started out at Banjo's World.

  • At 22:12, Anonymous Anonyme said…

    Captioning itself is quite a task and with most of the absolutists being illiterate, professional captioners enjoy being highly selective over which vlogs to caption for free.

  • At 22:16, Anonymous Janis said…

    Sorry to blather so much -- I think captioning of popular media is also in a different space than captioning vlogs because of the nature of the language. In this instance, there must be some allowances made for the different nature of ASL versus spoken languages.

    In any other spoken language, you could do one of two things -- caption, or dub. ASL is effectively undubbable. Captioning is the ONLY option to make it accessible to deaf viewers.

    Hence, I think the case for captioning of spoken-language popular movies is infinitely stronger than captioning of ASL vlogs. "Goblet of Fire" can be subbed OR dubbed for Spanishy-speaking audiences, but it can ONLY be subbed for deaf audiences. And in all honesty, unless the movie is re-staged in ASL, it cannot EVER be rendered in that language. Captioning is an imperfect solution to an insoluble problem, unless they start filming "Order of the Phoenix" in ASL.

  • At 22:49, Blogger BEG said…

    Really good comments all around...I think Janis has an excellent point when she says there need to be a variety.

    One thing I would so very strongly stress, though. I was *hurt* when people told me to buzz off or "just" learn ASL when I asked...it would be far more productive to say, hey we can't all do this, why don't you check out these videos which ARE captioned...

    That way, you point them toward the gates, and they just may start that journey...

  • At 22:52, Blogger BEG said…

    Oh, and one more thing (sorry). My two examples, are for groups that really don't have an alternative. The deafblind do need something other than a visual medium, there is no question of telling them to "go off" and "learn" how to see. And conversely, there is no way to tell the deaf or HOH to "go away" and "learn" to hear. So in these two examples, it is quite legitimate for those two minority populations to demand captioning.

    In the case of a non-signing deaf, you *can* go off and learn it (though as I said, I suggest a more constructive approach to that).

  • At 23:16, Blogger moi said…

    BEG and Janis, don't apologize for your comments - you're contributing a lot to this discussion! A lot of what you're saying has not really been explored in the online discussions on the topic, so please do feel free to continue! *smile*

  • At 00:46, Anonymous Anonyme said…

    I think the main point, is wider appreciation of deaf people, their culture, and their language and viewpoint. If, those issues go no further than the 'converted' already into the culture/sign thing, then that's it, it goes no further, you're 'talking' to yourself.

    Awareness ceases and questions tend to be raised do the sign users want to go any further ? Obviously they DO, or they wouldn't use the net or Vlogs to spread that viewpoint and awareness. For mainstream and other deaf to get involved and participate, assist the deaf, there has to be a way in.

    Not all vloggers can title everything, but the majority so far who are online and vlogging, DO have sufficient knowledge of English and very obvious ability to title, it seems some political point they won't. They can too, assist those that don't have that English knowledge.

    If, the overall view, is 'We will wait until all hearing learn sign-language' then, there is a very long wait coming. Titles/captions would assist learners too, so why shut them out ? This is cutting down future support access, it is where prospective interpreters get their interest.


  • At 07:08, Anonymous DE said…

    I feel strongly that we must never forget those Deaf who do not have sufficient English. Then again, vlogs are accessible to ALL, even those who are still learning ASL. The thing is, how well do they understand and how far are they willing to understand vlogs? (i.e.: pay a professional interpreter to translate certain vlogs for themselves? hire a CART business? grab a CODA and translate for themselves?)

    Point is-economic power. And we all know very well we have been exploited time and time again.

    I propose that the Deaf finally not miss the gravy train and ESTABLISH a vlog captioning business NOW- before the same old majority culture member falls across this novelty and establishes her/his business- like they did with
    Baby Signs, terp businesses, etc.!

    Run over to the patent office!

    Of, by, and for the Deaf!

  • At 10:12, Blogger Lantana said…

    As far as I am concerned, everything that comes "out of Jamie's pen" is well thought out and smacks of common sense.

  • At 15:14, Anonymous Anonyme said…

    Does having a vlog in both ASL and English help viewers to make the connection between the two languages? I always thought it does. Such as when signing a story through the air while pointing to the English text and pictures in a book when reading aloud to deaf kids. I could watch an ASL idiom and then read the English translation, and vice versa. Having a vlogger translate for themselves doesn't seem to be that big of a deal since they already know what they want to say. It would be so much harder for an interpreter or captioner to know what was in the vlogger's mind. What think?

  • At 11:32, Anonymous Janis said…

    Still thinking about this ...

    I think I'm thinking in the wrong direction here. ASL is enough like other minority languges, and enough unlike them, for it to require a unique technical approach. But the one thing that they both have in common is that speakers must have a welcoming attitude to nonspeakers. Not that they should bend over backward to translate everything they say, but that when approached, they MUST MUST MUST be polite and encouraging, and say, "I can't take the time to subtitle everything, but here are these vlogs that do, and here are these great online resources that you can use to learn ASL better. We'd all love it if there were more signers in the world -- please do come back and participate as your skills improve." Most of them won't, but some will.

    In that vein, ASL is VERY like Welsh, being both languages with an almost mindblowing number of excellent online resources for learners, both spoken by people with a fierce and passionate pride in their language.

    This would also keep deaf people like BEG from being out-and-out rejected by her own community, a community that should he ready to welcome her. Deaf culture will never flourish if people take such pains to keep others out. Like any marketing effort, you don't sell your product by kicking people who don't have it in the shins.

  • At 19:53, Blogger moi said…

    Great thoughts and comments, y'all! DE, Carl, BEG, Janis, GnarlyDorkette, and others all made some powerful points. (Anyone want to capitalize on DE's idea? Could be a real money-maker here.) I guess I have to agree with Janis - providing subtitling actually hinders acquisition for most people. But a transcript is a good solution in many ways, though not perfect. And people who commented that we need to be kinder to those who are one of us but are nonsigners (at the moment) hit the nail on the head. Some videos should be subtitled and some shouldn't, and when asked, we need to be respectful and kind, directing them to those that are subtitled. Thanks, y'all, for your thoughts! They made me think!

  • At 19:32, Blogger Lantana said…

    I have another viewpoint, this time from a deaf senior. Technology is going way too fast for most of the people of my generation, and while I am ready, willing and able to TRY a vlog, when it comes down to captioning it, I will bow out. Just thinking about it is frightening.

    I certainly RESPECT those who caption their vlogs but once again, "One size does not fit all!


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