Siri as shown on an Apple iPad

Designing a Manifesto for Accessibility

Feature
Outdoor wheelchair ramp

Outdoor wheelchair ramp. Photo by Tobias Abel (CC BY-ND 2.0)

It might be easy to assume that design and accessibility are two very different concepts. After all, a ramp and automatic door opener are not particularly remarkable architectural features and for the average Canadian, they often go unnoticed. For someone who uses a scooter or power wheelchair, however, a motorized sliding door and small incline give independence.

The same goes for those tiny computers we carry in our pockets. Modern smartphones feature some variation on the “personal assistant”: Siri, Cortana, Google Now. As each of these assistants is operated using just voice, barring some limitations, users can complete most basic functions without laying a finger on their device. For someone with limited mobility or another who is blind, voice activation can instantly make an inaccessible touch screen accessible.

Some more obvious than others, these accessibility features are built into our physical and digital worlds… but they are not used solely by people with disabilities. A parent pushing a baby stroller benefits from a door that swings open on its own. Or, while driving to work, a perpetually late employee might need to text their boss; Google Now has their back.

Closed Captioning Quality Issues in Canadian Digital Television

MRP

In 2013, I wrote a major research paper part of my graduation requirements in the BA, Radio and Television Arts program at the RTA School of Media at Ryerson University.

If you would like to read the paper, feel free to get in touch.

Abstract:

This Major Research Paper examines the quality of closed captioning on Canadian digital television. Closed captioning, a text transcription of all dialog, music, and sound effects in a television program, is typically used by deaf and hard of hearing television viewers as a substitute for audio. The research in this paper highlights the issues that this demographic (as well as hearing individuals and those who use closed captioning by association) are experiencing and their root causes. The issues were determined through a Canada-wide survey that gave study participants the opportunity to detail their experiences. Information gathered included geographical area, service provider, and equipment type to determine the root causes of these issues. Additionally, a literature review provides background on the history of closed captioning and media accessibility not only in Canada, but also around the world. With the information gathered, this Major Research Paper seeks to provide suggestions on how to change the Canadian broadcast industry to be more inclusive and accessible to those who are deaf or hard of hearing.