Author Archives: amarasubs

Amara and PCF have a new look!

We’re very excited to announce the newly redesigned homepages of amara.org and pculture.org! We hope the redesign better reflects who we are, and what we have to offer. For those of you who aren’t familiar with PCF (Participatory Culture Foundation), it is Amara’s parent organization, a 501c3 non-profit dedicated to building a more open, collaborative world.

All Amara’s offerings at a glance

Now it’s much easier to browse through all of Amara’s tools and offerings — free tools and professional services, right from the header of the amara.org homepage. We used to have this separated into a site called pro.amara.org, but on the new homepage it’s all at your fingertips in case you want to upgrade your subtitling tools and capabilities.New Amara navigation bar

Or, you can jump right into the free editor with a big green button:Green Start subtitling for free button

 

 

Learn and get involved

Finding new teams to volunteer for remains as easy as before. We’ve renamed the page “Volunteer” to make it even more obvious (this used to say Community). We couldn’t be more thrilled about our new About page, which clearly shares the reasons we’re all here, and showcases our core team.

What’s next?

We’re currently rethinking the user interface. These are all the other pages outside of the Editor that haven’t changed yet! We want to continue to improve navigation and functionality, so they are better tailored to your needs. We’ll be reaching out to better understand your needs, goals and dreams for Amara in the upcoming months. Keep your eye on this blog for more on that soon!

I already have an Amara account – do I have to do anything differently now?

Nope – logging onto the platform is as simple as ever. Go to the Login button on the top-right corner to enter your username and password; and click on your username to access your profile, messages and teams!
Pink login button

 

Instead of the old “Subtitle Video” header item, logged in users should use that same user menu in the upper right of the page to select “Subtitle Video.” Non-logged-in users will see the big “Start Subtitling for Free” button.
Green Start subtitling for free button

 

 

You’ll also see the new header style on most amara.org pages. The remaining pages will get the updated header style in the next couple of months.

Thanks for checking out the new site and visiting our blog. We hope you enjoy the new look and organization of the homepage. Let us know what you think by posting on the forum topic “Amara and PCF have a new look – tell us what you think!”

We stand with refugees, immigrants, Muslims, and any others affected…

Amara is dedicated to making the world a more inclusive and connected place. Last month, when Donald Trump signed an executive order for “extreme vetting” and banned citizens of seven Middle Eastern and African countries from entry into the US, we decided it was important for us to speak out publicly.

We stand with refugees, immigrants, Muslims, and any others affected by this harmful executive order. We oppose any action that discriminates based on race, religion, or country of origin.

We stand in solidarity to promote a more inclusive world, and hope you will join our voices in support of a global community where everyone is welcomed and respected. Our humanity is richer and stronger when we all come together.

–the Amara team

YouTube Automatic Captions Need Work: A Chat with Michael Lockrey

Michael Lockrey is Deaf, which means he depends on high quality captions for the videos he watches on the web.

Unfortunately, many YouTube videos that are captioned use automatically generated captions. Automated captions are often inaccurate and, uncorrected, they can do more harm than good. This is partially due to the perception creators have, when they think automated captions are “good enough”. In light of this situation, Michael has taken a hands-on approach to making change.

Michael built a website and tool called nomoreCRAPTIONS to challenge the prevalence of automatic captions (or “craptions” as Michael likes to call them). nomoreCRAPTIONS is a simple tool for improving automated captions, but it’s also a campaign to raise awareness about the importance of accurate captions for all web videos.

Screenshot of nomoreCRAPTIONS website.We had a chance to catch up with Michael and learn more about his efforts:

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Amara: How do you explain nomoreCRAPTIONS to people?

Michael: nomoreCRAPTIONS was designed to be the easiest way to fix up the automatic craptions on shorter YouTube videos (i.e. up to 2 or 3 minutes in duration).

We’ve deliberately focused on leveraging the intrinsic value in automatic craptions as it’s usually quicker to fix up these auto-generated craptions rather than starting from scratch.

The other main benefits of nomoreCRAPTIONS are that:

There’s no barriers or learning curve – you simply plug in the link to the YouTube video you want to fix up. This means that it’s very easy for anyone* to roll up the sleeves and fix up the errors in the auto-generated craptions.

* (anyone === who can hear)

You don’t have to be the content owner and this means that you don’t need to wait days / weeks / months (or even years) to watch the captions (as any corrections are instantly available on the nomoreCRAPTIONS website).

Amara: What motivated you to start the project?

Michael: As a Deaf man, I need good quality captions to watch online video content and it’s well known that YouTube is the biggest repository of online videos.

In the past if I’ve come across a viral or otherwise interesting video on YouTube that I’d like to watch – invariably it won’t have good quality captioning and I’ve been unable to do so.

YouTube has admitted recently that only 25% of YouTube videos have captioning and most of these only have automatic craptioning, which doesn’t provide me with any accessibility outcomes and I wrote a blog post recently that suggests that this means that only 5% of YouTube videos are likely to have good quality captioning and this simply isn’t good enough.

So you could say that nomoreCRAPTIONS has also become a bit of a personal protest against Google and YouTube’s over-use of automatic craptions and perhaps also a “cry for help” for them to do more.

Amara: How do you underline the importance of nomoreCRAPTIONS?

Michael: The lack of captioning on YouTube videos and other online video platforms is one of the biggest accessibility issues on the web today.

But it’s very hard to get this message through to the general public and as the internet is largely an unregulated environment it means that the advocacy strategies that made captioning available on almost 100% of traditional media such as TV in the USA, UK and Australia will not necessarily be effective as more and more content shifts onto the internet.

As a result I’m a very strong believer that we have a huge fight on our hands to gain accessibility to online video content and the best way to achieve this is by making it simple and easy to add good quality captioning.

Amara: Do you have a favorite story about nomoreCRAPTIONS? Any exciting impact that you’ve seen?

Michael: My favourite story to date has been working closely with my father on YouTube captioning using the nomoreCRAPTIONS tool.

He’s retired and he’s also lost quite a bit of hearing as he’s now well into his 70’s which means that rather than him and I being some sort of dynamic captioning duo akin to an #A11Y Batman and Robin, we’re probably have more in common with the two guys from Dumb and Dumber!

But he’s really enjoyed using the nomoreCRAPTIONS tool and he’s now even volunteering to provide the captions for the Australian War Memorial YouTube channel as he has a lot of family members who served in previous wars and he’s very interested in learning about the family history etc.

It was also great to work with Amara and many of their volunteers recently on an advocacy project that is trying to get the New York Times to caption their online videos.

Check out our public Trello project page and whilst it doesn’t use nomoreCRAPTIONS (as the New York Times has actually disabled the automatic craptioning on their YouTube channel) we have used an innovative workflow where we focus on creating an accurate text transcript first and then upload this onto the web where it is synced to the audio track.

Many of the volunteers have raved about how it’s so good to not have to manually sync the text to the audio track and it’s a significant saving of 20-30% of the standard captioning workflow time, which means that volunteers can create even more accessibility outcomes.

Amara: Where would you like to see nomoreCRAPTIONS go in 2015?

Michael: The best thing that could happen in 2015 for nomoreCRAPTIONS would actually be a nail in our coffin – we want Google and YouTube to cease publishing the automatic craptions immediately.

Instead we’d love to see Google and YouTube be far more proactive on ensuring that captions happen, particularly for the bigger channels and content producers, such as the New York Times.

For example, they could easily prompt users whilst they’re waiting for videos to upload onto their channel to make sure their videos are captioned or they could even ask users to caption the first 15 – 30 seconds of a video, etc.

Another thing I’d like to see is for much more “low hanging fruit” to be captioned and it would be great to see some “quick wins” up on the A11Y-scoreboard.

By this I’m simply referring to videos (such as those by the Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, where there’s already an accurate transcript published on the Australian Government’s website and it’s also usually added to the meta data on their YouTube video page) but the videos themselves are still not captioned.

Check out the links here:

Screenshot showing the full transcript in the YouTube video’s meta-data section:

Screenshot showing the full transcript in the YouTube video's meta-data section:

TEDx Talks are another good example – as most presenters would have a written script, that can be easily uploaded and automatically converted into a very accurate caption file.

Amara: Are there ways people can help with nomoreCRAPTIONS and/or get involved in the larger captions/accessibility movement?

Michael: nomoreCRAPTIONS is an open source project and we are currently receiving some great support and mentoring assistance from the team at Free Code Camp. This means that we have some students working on the next version of nomoreCRAPTIONS with node.js support and numerous other improvements.

Our product roadmap for nomoreCRAPTIONS also includes some new tools that will make it more efficient for captioning longer videos (as we usually don’t recommend using the existing nomoreCRAPTIONS tool for videos of more than 3 minutes in length).

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We’re very grateful to Michael for sharing his time and thoughts – we’ll continue to stay in touch and bring updates. If you’d like to learn more about his efforts and/or get involved with nomoreCRAPTIONS, please check out the links below.

A Powerful Superbowl Ad in Spanish – Subtitles in the Wild

If you haven’t seen this PSA that focuses on violence against women, which aired during the superbowl, it’s worth watching.

Eme de Mujer, a website of the largest Uruguayan daily newspaper El País, shared the PSA (with Spanish subtitles) in this recent post.

Screen shot of http://uy.emedemujer.com/actualidad/entretenimiento/el-comercial-del-super-bowl-del-que-todas-debemos-hablar/At Amara, it always excites us to see videos, such as this, shared across cultural and/or in accessible contexts. We’ll continue to keep our eyes peeled and share anything that looks intriguing or neat.

What are Subtitles in the Wild? We’ve been keeping an eye on popular videos with posted on the web with using the Amara embedder – when we see something interesting or exciting, we’ll share it.

An Important Note: Amara blog authors aren’t fluent in every language. If you see any factual errors, cultural faux pas, or have notes or other blog-related ideas to share, please let us know in the comments or at blogs@amara.org We love conversation!

 

NYC Event Tomorrow: Translation-Machination (Feb 27, 2015)

If you’re in NYC tomorrow afternoon, a member of the Amara team will be joining a discussion panel at 3:30 pm, at the NYU event Translation-Machination.

This event explores the changing circumstances of linguistic exchange and considers the implications of translation as a language technology from a media theoretical perspective.

It’s a free event and will no doubt spur some interesting conversation!

Event Time: February 27 1:00pm – 5:00pm EST
Event Location: 239 Greene Street, NY NY
Registration: (free) Bottom of this page.

Amara Newsletter (Feb ’15): A Fashionably Late 2014 Recap

Most orgs did 2014 wrap ups in the first week of January, but that gets a little overwhelming. We’re doing ours fashionably late instead – please enjoy!

Accessibility volunteers, making a difference for others

In 2014, we learned about reddit.com/r/CaptionPlease, an amazing community of accessibility-minded folks who caption short videos for anyone who requests them. They are a friendly community, and are always looking for volunteers – visit the link above for info on getting involved and/or requesting captions.

@SubtitleYouTube has single handedly (double handedly?) captioned a LOT of videos during the year. It’s an inspiring effort, @SubtitleYouTube!

And of course Amara is home to some really neat accessibility groups as well, including the Captions Requested team as well as the Music Captioning team. Definitely worth a look.

Are there other volunteer accessibility communities we should point to? Please let us know!

Amara platform development in 2014

2014 was a HUGE year for Amara development! Here are a few highlights: Amara Editor and Embedder both went gold, the website speed and performance massively improved, we did a full integration with Vimeo. The improvements will continue in 2015!

Translation highlights from 2014

Volunteers rallied around Aaron Schwartz’s story, translating the feature film into over 12 languages and helping spread this imporant story worldwide.

Attitude Live, an amazing nonprofit organization, produces compelling stories about people living with disabilities. Their volunteer community translated an inspiring video about a woman named Maia Amai into 20 languages. The video tell’s Maia’s story, where she overcomes significant adversity to join the New Zealand wheelchair rugby team.

Another group of translators made Scientific American’s what happens when you die video available in over 24 languages (which has since gone very viral in Hungary!). Overall, we saw a LOT of fun and inspiring videos translated into all kinds of languages.

And every year we give a big shout out to the TED Open Translation Project, which continues to grow and evolve at an astonishing rate.

Do you have any inspiring translation stories we should be sharing? Please let us know!

Design in 2014: Websites, blog, and new tutorial video

We launched two beautiful new website designs: Amara.org and Amara’s Professional Services Site, in addition to a cute and informative Meet Amara video. The Amara Blog also got a facelift and we’ve been posting there more regularly.

To sum it all up, we’re pumped about 2015! If you’ve been thinking about video accessibility or translation, please drop us a line (just reply to this email).

Best,
The Amara Team

Corrections: We mistook @SubtitleYoutube’s account name (though the link was correct).