Saturday, September 12, 2009

Why Deaf People SHOULD subtitle their Vlogs!

I am of the opinion that Deaf people who produce VLogs should subtitle them. Mahatma Gandhi once said "You must be the change you seek in this world". I am one of the many folks in the Deaf community that has been concerned about the lack of accessibility of auditory and video content on the internet (which is rapidly expanding day-by-day for that matter) and have repeatedly asked hearing folks to subtitle or transcribe their videos for the Deaf and hard of hearing.

I feel that Deaf folks should be setting the example for hearing folks by subtitling their own Vlogs. Some would argue that we should apply the "an eye for an eye" philosophy, and I would disagree with that sentiment. Others would argue that hearing students of ASL would never truly learn ASL and would rely on the subtitles as a crutch, and I would disagree with that sentiment, too (mainly because the subtitles can be turned on/off as needed). The strongest argument against subtitling a Vlog would probably be that ASL cannot be 100% effectively transcribed in English form. While that is almost definently true, it doesn't mean that we shouldn't try to do this anyway! In fact, I think this could help Deaf kids learn English better, as they would be assigned to transcribe ASL stories into English form. Just my random thoughts here. I hope that folks will consider my arguments and that more folks will subtitle their Vlogs.

DotSub is an EXCELLENT website that allows folks to upload videos found on YouTube and other websites. Once the video is uploaded, users can then transcribe the film to their hearts' content and subtitle them. Once a transcript has been marked complete, it would then allow users of other languages around the world to translate the transcribed content in their own language.

By allowing hearing folks to view ASL videos in the language they best understand, I believe that this helps these same folks appreciate that ASL is a very complex and rich language that should not be demeaned or belittled. This would also allow for folks that would normally never "get the message" espoused within various Vlogs to now be able to understand what Deaf people often debate on a daily basis. This would create more in-roads between the hearing and the Deaf, and this can only be a good thing towards helping us explain to them how we feel about issues such as Cochlear Implants, Accessibility, and Deaf Education.

Here are a few examples of how DotSub videos can be used effectively.

Barack Obama's Inauguration Speech (25 translations - most are incomplete, though):



An ASL video that I subtitled, "Deaf Ninja", which was told by Austin Andrews:



The National Association of the Deaf, taking advantage of the DotSub technology:



I have only done one Vlog myself, along with the subbing of one interview that I recorded, but at least I'm practicing what I preach:





EDITED TO ADD - I was sent two videos by Vloggers who subtitled their Vlogs and/or provided transcripts to the Vlog. I am embedding both videos below. Each of them blogged about this on their websites, which are hyperlinked, so click on the title itself to go directly to their blogs.

"Why *I* think vloggers on DR SHOULD offer subtitles and/or transcripts" (jjpuorro | February 12, 2008):



"Freedom of Choice: Subtitling on Vlog"(The NavyBeagle Newsletter - 2-24-2007):