Fuck Yeah, Accessibility
Sound Transcriptions and Accessability

Mod note: this is a submission by the lovely kantala, who describes their experience on tumblr as a person who relies on video/audio transcriptions due to sensory/attention-span-related issues. Also, it’s rad.

So tumblr is by far the most accessible site I’ve ever been on in terms of things like trigger warnings and image descriptions. Both of which do a great deal in helping the site become more accessible, but one thing I’ve noticed that not many people do is sound transcriptions.

Transcriptions are used by different people for many reasons, I’m going to be talking from the point that affects me which is attention and sensory issues, and how transcriptions help in those cases. Therefore what I may say here might not apply to everyone, but I’m hoping this still kind of works as a bit of an explanation as to why transcriptions are needed.

The reason I’m writing this is that I’ve seen a lot more videos and podcasts cross my dash recently, many of which are 5+ minutes long, with no transcripts or sometimes even summaries of them. This creates a bit of a problem. I love to learn new things and will pretty much devour any information I can get my hands on, but I have some limitations. One of which is that because of some quirk of my brain I can’t keep my attention on just sound like podcasts, or sometimes videos, for any longer than about 3 minutes. This limit is pretty constant and it doesn’t really matter how interested in the subject I am, the factor that tends to increase it is the amount of movement. For example I can watch videos with lots of action and movement in them, unfortunately informative videos don’t tend to have this.

Along with the attention, some videos and podcasts are inaccessible to me because of sound sensitivities. Things like static, high pitch noises, repetitive noises like alarms or ticking, or even my speakers mutinying against me and boosting the treble to high render the sound unbearable for me to listen to and make the information inside inaccessible to me.

This gap in accessibility, where I can see things that are said to be “must watches” and “extremely informative” or even “amazing” on my dash and I know that I can’t get to them, is alienating. It can feel as if people are saying “ If you don’t force yourself to do this you aren’t worthy of the information inside it. You aren’t good enough for this” I know that’s not the message people are trying to send out, but that can still be what it feels like.

I don’t want to make people who are for any reason incapable of doing transcriptions feel guilty, that’s not my intention. I know from experience that sometimes it can be impossible to do them, what I’m asking is that if you can please do them.

That’s pretty much all I have to say, thought I guess here’s a few quick points:

  • Transcriptions tend to work better than closed captioning for attention challenges in my experience, because it allows for reading at your own pace rather than struggling with the seek function or trying to keep focused on the screen.

  • If you don’t want a huge transcription under your video or podcast, linking to a different post with it, or putting it under a “read more” cut is fine, as long as you make it clear where the transcription is.

  • If you cannot do a detailed transcription, then just a quick outline of the video is nice as it allows for some context when reblogs add comments about it.

So um, Thank-you for reading through this, and I really hope you think about adding transcriptions in the future.