How Mohawk helped advance online accessibility with an easy-to-use captioning tool

Two people, one visually impaired, using their phones.

CapScribe 2 Logo

Inclusive Media & Design is a Toronto-based company focused on advancing the accessibility of digital media for people with disabilities. Inclusive Media & Design asked Mohawk's Accessibility Research Lab to help the company modernize CapScribe, a 20-year old captioning tool.

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Research Area: Digital Accessibility Lab

Project Funder: Broadcasting Accessibility Fund
Research Team: Jennifer Jahnke, Andrea Jelic, Colin Taylor, Tracey Kadish

 

Future Ready Challenge

Interest and consumption of online videos have increased significantly in recent years. In 2019, we were watching 84 minutes of online video a day; in 2021 we are predicted to watch 100 minutes of online video a day. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated the wide-spread use of pre-recorded video, especially for online educational content. 

Closed captioning ensures that the content in the videos is accessible to a wider range of viewers. While the primary users of captions are people who are deaf or hard of hearing, captions can also benefit ESL speakers or anyone watching video without sound. The good news is that many creators and companies include closed captioning for all of their online content. The bad news is that it is not always straightforward to add captions to a video. Many video captioning tools use automation to capture audio and while fast, these tools often produce inaccurate or out of context captions, delivering an imperfect and inaccessible online experience. 

 

R & D Collaboration

Inclusive Media & Design is a Toronto-based company focused on advancing the accessibility of digital media for people with disabilities. It offers consulting and technical services such as web accessibility audits and remediation support, web video captioning, sign language, audio description and other media augmentation.

Twenty years ago, one of the founding partners at Inclusive Media & Design developed CapScribe, a Mac-based tool that was used to create both descriptions and captions for online video. CapScribe’s editing functions gave precise control over setting up each caption, making it easy to set up, edit, and re-edit captions and time code. 

Due to upgrades to the Apple operating system, the original version of CapScribe is no longer supported on Mac products. Recognizing the value of the tool, Inclusive Media & Design asked Mohawk to help the company modernize CapScribe. The partnership was made possible thanks to funding from the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund (BAF), an independent and impartial funding body that provides grants for innovative projects that will advance accessibility to broadcasting content in Canada.

 

Innovative Results

The updated version of the tool, now known as CapScribe 2, was co-developed as part of an 18-month applied research collaboration between Mohawk College’s Accessible Media Production graduate certificate program and Inclusive Media & Design. 

CapScribe 2 has been reconfigured into an easy-to-use, fully accessible Macintosh and Windows editor that generates ready-to-deploy web video player code and customizable transcripts, including caption and description integration. The Mohawk research team designed an intuitive interface and user-friendly captioning workflow that works across a range of platforms, browsers, and video players. 

CapScribe 2 began its Beta deployment in Fall 2020, with a focus on Ontario-based higher education institutions. Inclusive Media & Design has secured additional funding from the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund to begin work on CapScribe 3. 

 “This collaboration with Mohawk with the support from BAF came at a crucial time to ensure the continuation of CapScribe,” said Rob Harvie, Director and Founder of Inclusive Media & Design. “The original CapScribe product was limited to Mac and Apple no longer supports the architecture it was based on. Without this project, CapScribe would simply fade away.”