AbleTV Provides Captioned Event Videos
There's a new service on the Internet called AbleTV. It was
established by a Maryland couple named Jeff and Suzanne Pledger, and
it's goal is to provide accessible information to people with
disabilities. Using the concept of television over the Internet, AbleTV provides captioned webcasts of newsworthy events. Webcasts are live
streaming video, delivered by technologies such as Real Video Player.
This technology has been around for several years. What is new about
AbleTV is the concept of adding captions to coverage of newsworthy
The first coverage provided by AbleTV was of the Democratic National
don't know if the entire convention is available, but there appears to
be way more videos there than I want to watch <g>).
The quality of the video and captioning is not great. Having only a
dialup modem that normally connects at about 33kb/second, I didn't
expect the video to be very good, and it wasn't. It was good enough to
get a reasonable image of the speaker, but a scene shift usually
resulted in several seconds of unclear image before it sharpened up
Perhaps more troubling is the quality of the captioning. I don't mean
that the wrong words were presented, as we see so often on television
captioning. From what I was able to see, the transcription of speech to
text appeared to be pretty good. The problem was that the video image,
and therefore the captioning, was quite small. It was just plain hard to
read! Also, the first video in the list (Welcome and Opener) had a
captioning problem; the captions came up, but never changed! The other
webcasts I looked at were ok in this regard.
So it's far from perfect. Still, there are a couple of advantages to
this system that make it promising. First, of course, is just the fact
that it is captioned, and therefore accessible to people with hearing
Another advantage is that it is on the Internet and available
whenever you want to see it. If you missed part of the convention, you
can go back now and watch the parts you missed. If this technology
becomes widespread, it may be possible to see captioned webcasts of
almost any event at any time.
A third advantage is that it is universally accessible. You may be
traveling out of the country, or you may be interested in what's going
on in some other country. If, for whatever reason, you are unable to
view something of interest on live television, the webcast version will
be available. With a computer and internet access, you can view the
webcast from anywhere in the world.
Finally, captioning can be provided in multiple languages. For people
who are more comfortable in a language other than English, the
captioning for some programs may be provided in other languages. Also,
events from other countries may be captioned in English as well as the
native language of the country.
AbleTV envisions obtaining funding from advertising on the site,
sponsorship of the site by companies and associations, and even Pay Per
View-type subscriptions where users might have to pay a small fee to
watch a program. Microsoft was a charter sponsor that gave AbleTV
the seed money to get the site up and running. Verizon Communications,
Sun Microsystems and iCan.com are some of the company's advertisers.
For additional information, please see the AbleTV
Listing in our Resources Directory.