Imagine that all of your media devices suddenly and permanently went mute. Would you have access to the information you need? For some, this situation is already a reality. And the current state of captioning is…well…let’s be honest, “Captioning Sucks!”

People with disabilities deserve full access to rich media content. I think captioning is one of the biggest challenges in making content accessible. Oh, don’t get me wrong; captioning is technically easy to do. So, what is the problem? Captioning is time consuming and does not happen auto-magically. How do we fix it? A wonderful starting point is the Open and Closed Project. What is the Open and Closed Project?

The Open and Closed Project is an independent, nonprofit body that will write and test a set of standards for captioning – and also for audio description (for blind and visually-impaired viewers), subtitling, and dubbing.

We’re going to write these standards on the basis of research and evidence. If the research or evidence we need isn’t there, we’ll do our own research and gather our own evidence. Unless we’re legally required to do otherwise, the entire process will be carried out in the open, and everyone, without limitation, may contribute. (But because we’re writing a standard, which has to be an unchanging document, this is not an open-source project.)

We’ll publish our specifications. Then we’ll spend a year testing them in the real world to make sure they work. Then we’ll train and certify practitioners, meaning it will finally be possible to become a certified captioner. The whole project will take four to seven years.

How can you make a difference? Head on over to the Open and Closed Project and find out how you can help.