Archive for May, 2005

I’m questioning the W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guideline 1.0 on captioning when it comes to “talking head” videos. I think the transcript of the video in XHTML format is more useful than the caption. In fact, I think captioning conflicts with the guideline to make sure users have control of time-based multimedia. Ever tried to read the captions flying by on the screen? Talk about a time sensitive flow of information!

  • WCAG 1.0 Checkpoint 1.4

    For any time-based multimedia presentation (e.g., a movie or animation), synchronize equivalent alternatives (e.g., captions or auditory descriptions of the visual track) with the presentation.

  • WCAG 1.0 Guideline 7.

    Ensure user control of time-sensitive content changes.

My recommendation for providing equivalent alternatives would be:
Priority 1

  • provide the transcript of the presentation in XHTML
  • provide synchronized captions with the presentation when the transcript alone does not adequately convey the meaning

For most “talking head” videos (a video where you just see the head of the person speaking), the transcript provided in XHTML gives the user far more access to the content of what was said in the video. Just like there is an art to writing alt, there is an art to captioning. Trust us with the decision to determine when a video needs to be captioned versus when it just needs to be transcribed!

Confession: I’ve been forcing myself to transcribe/caption multimedia content recently, rather than finding some other innocent victim to do it for me. I consider it penance for recent inaccessible content I’ve been party to. But, to my delight, I’ve learned some valuable lessons and even had a bit of fun. I never said I was normal.

So compadres, what do you think?

ben graduating from preschool in his cap and gown, being hugged by his brother

My baby is growing up! My little Benny Bear will start Kindergarten this fall. Oh how I adore these early years. Crayons and Play-doh, Build-A-Bear and Dr. Seuss, T-ball and water balloon fights…I breath it all in deeply…not wanting to miss a single moment.

I do have to remind myself that in order to be fully present in the moment, I must experience it with all my senses and never try to pause or rewind. But I’ve caught myself clinging to this stage. Can we slow down? It is all moving too fast! And then I remember times in my life when I lingered too long while the world moved on. An empty concert hall after the performance. Silence. A resort after the conference. Lonely. A deserted racetrack. Lifeless. Time to move forward. Another adventure awaits! Don’t miss it, silly girl, because you were lookin’ back.

So for today, I’ll revel in being Mommy and do my very best to let my children be little.

excerpt from Let Them Be Little by Lonestar

Let them be little ’cause they’re only that way for a while
Give them hope, give them praise, give them love every day
Let them cry, let them giggle, let them sleep in the middle
Oh just let them be little

So innocent,
a precious soul,
you turn around
It’s time to let them go

Are you blissfully unconcerned about the dangers of identity theft, phishing and online stalkers? Are you letting your personal information hang out for everyone to see? Or are you irrational in your attempts to conceal your identity? A post by Elly Thompson talks about phishing and illogical public response .

Ahhhh…but you are wise in the ways of the web and you take the necessary precautions. But the house is only secure if all the doors are locked and the alarm is set. And while you may have locked the front door…did you see that your clueless co-worker or client just left their keys on the front step?

To drive home the point, I scripted this parody of an Identity Theft commercial. Huge thanks to Andy Greer, Kara Nicholas & Ben Armintor for their outstanding videography, acting and voiceovers.

Now do you have ideas about…

  • How we teach our online communities to be security savvy?
  • Any internet safety tutorials out there that can penetrate the invincible psyche of college students?
  • Ideas for another security commercial?

What do University of Texas Longhorns choose as their browser? In May 2005, 17.7% chose Mozilla!

Browser Usage Statistics for UT Austin’s Portal – Spring 2005
IE Mozilla
January 77.4% 12.1%
February 74.8% 13.1%
March 74.1% 14.1%
April 72.4% 16.0%
May 71.9% 17.7%

Look, up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a frog…a frog?

Not bird, nor plane, nor even frog, it’s just little ‘ole me, Underdog!

Get Firefox

I have a new dance step to share with you. It is called the Ekahau Dance…and it goes like this.

  1. Set up at least 4 wireless access points.
  2. Install the Ekahau Position Software on one laptop and a few mobile devices (laptops or pdas)
  3. Mark a square grid out on the floor of the “room” you want to establish location sensing. Each point should be at least 5 feet from the other points.
  4. Turn on the Ekahau Position Software on your primary laptop and begin the dance
    • stand on grid point 1
    • with primary laptop in your hands (Ekahau software in “sensing mode”)
    • Do a smooth 360 degree turn while standing on grid point 1 in exactly 20 seconds
    • move to grid point 2 and repeat until you’ve danced on all the grid points
  5. You’ve just taught the Ekahau software what wireless access “smells” like at each grid point!
  6. Now, grab a mobile device (with the Ekahau client software installed) and walk around the “room”
  7. Abracadabra – your movements are shown on the primary Ekahau Laptop.

Notes to self for next Ekahau Dance Session: Wear cowboy boots (not sneakers or thongs) and bring iPod fully charged and loaded.

Why would I want to do the Ekahau Dance? Because I’m a handheld junkie? Noooooo, because I want to create a “smart environment” indoors. Imagine, being in a museum and having a handheld device that is sensitive to your location. Then the fun begins. I can’t wait to design this user interface, making sure that you are in control and that information is intuitively available to you, but never interrupts you.

The Ekahau Positioning Engine is my first 802.11b wireless location sensing experiment. I’m also exploring RFID, IrDA and Bluetooth. More on these adventures as they occur!

A musical baton has been passed to me by Rob and Andy. So, cowpie and malarkey, may I have this dance?

Total volume of music files on my computer: 749 mb (can you tell I’m a reader?)
The last CD I bought was: Fight Test by the Flaming Lips
Song playing right now: My Stupid Mouth by John Mayer
Five songs I listen to a lot, or that mean a lot to me:

  • Austin by Blake Shelton – story of an everlasting love
  • The One by Gary Allen

    I’ll fill those canyons in your soul,
    Like a river lead you home,
    And I’ll walk a step behind,
    In the shadows so you shine

  • Live Like You Were Dying by Tim McGraw
    the lesson I’ve learned from the loved ones I’ve lost…

    I went sky diving
    I went Rocky Mountain climbing
    I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named fumanchu
    and I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter
    and I gave forgiveness I’d been denying
    and he said someday I hope you get the chance
    to live like you were dying.

  • Tick Tock by Stevie Ray Vaughan – a vision of universal love
  • Truly Madly Deeply by Savage Garden – pure passion

What can I say; I’m hopelessly romantic and like to be reminded that each day is precious. What if this was my very last day? Did I live it authentically? Did I live it fully? Do the people I love know it thru my words and actions?

Five people to whom I’m passing the baton:

Justin Cone
James Craig
Jeremy Flint
Keith Hall
Andrea Schwandt-Arbogast

Friday, I had the pleasure of experiencing “The Incredibles” at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin. In addition to a theatre full of accessibility compadres, free food and drinks (thanks Knowbility & IBM), we were given the opportunity to experience the movie fully captioned and with live audio descriptions. I think it is so cool that Austin has theatres that provide this service.

So, glass of wine in one hand, artichoke pizza in the other and a small wireless over-the-ear headphone, I sat back, closed my eyes and listened to the movie. The professional audio describer was located near the front of the theatre. She had a microphone that was tuned to the same frequency as my headphone. She had seen the movie once and had determined what important visuals needed to be described for a full experience. Audio describers are trained to objectively describe critical visual information without opinion or bias.

I’ll admit I didn’t keep my eyes closed for too long. But it was fascinating just listening to the movie. My imagination was drawing the pictures, just like when I’m reading a good book. When I opened my eyes and had even more input, I played the “art of alt” game with myself. How would I have described the visual information on the screen? It was like a giant alt text quiz on speed. I’m awed by the brain power of people who can do live audio description and live captioning. I secretly think these people received extra helpings of brain cells when they were created!

As a web developer who revels in rich media, I’m often faced with the daunting task of finding resources to transcribe a video. Now, as I provide the transcripts for rich media, I’ll always remember that transcribing the spoken words is not enough. To truly provide access to the content of the rich media, I need to describe the important visuals as well. So, as I head back to Alamo Drafthouse this weekend for Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, I’ll be ever so grateful for my vision and occasionally I might close me eyes just to listen.

Want to learn more about audio descriptions? I suggest starting with Audio Description International. Looking for theatres in your area that provide this service…they are often marked with an OC (open caption) or AD (audio description) symbol.

So, I’ll admit it. I’ve been browsing the internet on my phone. Yes, it is still painful. Especially typing in the blasted URL. Can you spell T E D I O U S? But, pulling up some experimental UT Austin pda content on my phone and discovering that I can control a dropdown menu (as long as there is NOT an onselect) did give me quite a rush.

While I think it is still months away before normal people start doing this…my questions to you are this:

1) Does your phone have access to the internet?
2) Have you tried to browse the web on your phone?
3) Have you found anything useful?

I’ve got one. I’m picking up a friend at the airport, and it will be handy to know if his flight is running on time. So, I just found the American Airlines phone friendly url ( and armed with this URL and a flight number, I can keep tabs on the plane. Sweeeeet!