So, YouTube Space LA Had Its First Accessibility Summit.

If you would like to see this article with photos (as I can't seem to get the photos to show on blog posts here, please head over to the publication on Medium.

On November 4, 2016, I went to the YouTube Space Los Angeles Accessibility Summit, an event dedicated to being accessible on the Internet.

This day was a big deal as this was, from my knowledge, the first time YouTube Space and YouTube/Google in general have dedicated a day and event to accessibility and people with disabilities.

I was invited by YouTube to not only be at the event, but to also be a featured guest. I was asked to be on a panel alongside Tommy Edison, Sitting Pretty Lolo, and Molly Burke.

During the day, we saw presentations from companies such as Google and AMI (Accessible Media Inc.) and from people like Molly Burke and Haben Girma. The companies talked about what accessibility meant and how they were working on making technology accessible. Molly and Haben talked about their own personal stories, their lives while being disabled. The last piece of the event was the YouTube panel.

So, how was the event? How did they plan out the agenda? How accessible were they, really? I have to say for their first time doing something for accessibility and disability, YouTube and Google were pretty good. Perfect? No, but almost spot on (at least in terms of accessibility for deaf people - I cannot speak for those in wheelchairs, those who are blind, etc.).

Five interpreters were hired. Five. Plus one live captioner. Wheelchair ramps and elevators were available. The only thing that I can think of that was a bit of an “oops” was the braille sign they had near the room entrance. The braille said “YouTube”, but blind people would not have known since the braille itself was simply printed on the sign and not raised up.

The agenda consisted mostly of talks about technology which ended up feeling a little excessive and I wasn’t the only one with those feelings. Some information ended up being repeated. Since this was at YouTube Space, it would have been great if they had added on more personal talks by the YouTubers there.

Overall, I was very pleased with the event. I would like to see the other YouTube Spaces, especially New York and Toronto, hold this event as well. I was a part of YouTube NextUp in New York, so if you’re reading this, please hold an event and have me over! I’d love to be a part of it again.

 

A New Campaign: #NoMoreCraptions

On September 25th, 2016, I want to launch #NoMoreCraptions.

What is #NoMoreCraptions, you may ask? It’s a campaign that I want to start to make people aware of the lack of proper closed captioning on YouTube.

As you know, I have been working for almost two years to make YouTubers aware of closed captioning for their deaf audience. I have been somewhat successful, but I’m not clearly as close as I want to be. That is because I cannot do this by myself. There are too many people on this earth. I am one person in a world of seven billion. I can only make so many “caption your videos!” videos. Every channel has a different audience consisting of different people. In order to reach out to everyone, I need everyone’s help.

I have only one rule for this video: the video must be captioned, obviously. The video must be captioned before you make it public.

I want the videos to cover these topics:

  • Introduce the campaign and what it is
  • What closed captioning is
  • Why it’s important (d/Deaf/HOH people, people with auditory processing disorder, for people learning other languages, etc)
  • What auto c®aptions really are and why they don’t work
  • How it benefits creators (captions get translated into subtitles, brings it more viewers/subscribers)
  • How to caption (you can refer them to my 3 Ways To Caption video or tell them to Google, lol)
  • Note that if creators choose to go the fan contribution route, they NEED to look over the submissions before publishing. Caption with jokes and unnecessary commentary are not real captions and should not be published.
  • Anything else you can think of that would be worth noting.

I want to emphasize that I would really like to see these videos go up on SundaySeptember 25th. Why? While September is fully dedicated to deaf awareness, there is one day dedicated to the cause: the last Sunday of September. So, for 2016, that’s the 25th.

Please, please, please, if you can get anybody you know on board with this, please send them this post.  I want as many people involved as possible. My mission is to make this a huge thing. I want this to make this as big as possible in just one day.

When the day arrives, I will make a #NoMoreCraptions playlist on my YouTube channel so all the videos will be in one place.

Accessibility At VidCon: The Good and The Bad

NOTE: I’d like to start this off by saying that this post is from the deaf perspective. I am not talking about wheelchair access, accessibility for blind people, etc. since that is something I do not have personal experience with. I talked with my friends that have different disabilities and they plan to make their own videos about their experiences and suggestions.

From June 23rd-25th, 2016, I attended my second VidCon in a row, both times as a Featured Creator.

Last year, for the 6th Annual VidCon, I was given the opportunity to host the first ever closed captioning workshop, Lights, Camera, Caption! Around 135 people had it scheduled on their VidCon app and around 50 or so people came. This year, I had the opportunity to host the workshop again. Around 200 or so had it scheduled, but around the same number of people last year or less came, which was a bit of a bummer, but the workshop was at 11 a.m. this year as opposed to 2 p.m. last year and time and schedule conflicts more than likely played a factor.

This year, I was on the first ever Disabilities On YouTube panel part one with fellow YouTubers JD Dalton, Tommy Edison, and Ally Taylor as moderator. Part two consisted of Tommy Edison, Sitting Pretty Lolo, Molly Burke, and James Rath.

I’ve only been to two VidCons so I can’t say for sure, but from what I’ve been told, accessibility for those with different abilities (or disabilities, whichever word you prefer to use) was pretty limited.

Until now.

Things had improved accessibility wise for the d/Deaf and hard of hearing this year. It wasn’t perfect and more improvements could be made, but we’ll start with the good stuff first.

Last year, I wanted an ASL interpreter and CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation AKA live captioner) for the audience and myself. An interpreter was hired, but by the time I asked for CART, they said there wasn’t enough time to have one booked. At the end of the day, I didn’t get all the accessibility I wanted, but it was more than what VidCon had before. After my workshop ended, someone tweeted me saying that I was the first workshop to have an ASL interpreter at VidCon ever. This year, my workshop had both CART and two ASL interpreters. After the workshop, the interpreters offered to be my personal interpreters the next day.

Speaking of interpreters, last year, VidCon had zero interpreters at the main stages. This year, there were two interpreters at the Kia mainstage and arena. They also had 15 interpreters on standby in case they were needed.

Now let’s talk about the bad.

I’d like to make a note that this wasn’t VidCon’s fault, but it’s still worth talking about so that we can make sure it doesn’t happen again in the future.

For Disabilities On YouTube part one, two CART, one for me and one for the audience, and at least one interpreter were supposed to be at the stage. When we started the panel, I had no CART at my seat. I spent ten minutes of panel time trying to figure out where my accessibility was and the panel was started without me, something that should not have happened. At first, I thought VidCon messed up, but it turns out that the second CART and interpreter failed to show up and didn’t notify anybody. Fortunately, one CART did show up and we unfortunately had to take her away from the audience in order to continue with the panel. It’s a moment that I will not forget and it upsets me every time I think about it. We also had to use two interpreters that were an audience member’s interpreters. Really, we’re not supposed to do that, or we shouldn’t do that, but they were kind enough to help out and I thank them for that.

For part two, the CART who showed up at my workshop was at the panel. We did want an interpreter, and we used the two I had with me, but I’m not sure if the interpreters hired were the personal ones I had with me or not. We ended up using them anyway since I was going to the panel from the start.

So, what could be improved for VidCon 2017 and onward?

In a perfect world, VidCon would have at least one interpreter and CART in every panel room, mainstage, and arena. I don’t know if that would be financially possible as I don’t know the budget for the convention and how much interpreters and CART cost. What could also happen is definitely having interpreters and CART in the mainstage and arena, and allowing attendees to check off whether or not they need certain accommodations on the form. After that’s checked off, then they would type what panels they plan to attend and perhaps work from there. I don’t know if that would make things more complicated, but it’s just an idea that popped up in my head. Obviously, this is something that would require a lot of planning and I plan to talk with fellow VidCon staff (ahem, you did read that right - it does say fellow VidCon staff) about that throughout the year.

I know that perfection will not come in an instant and I don’t expect it to. Perfection is impossible to achieve. I know this. But I do hope that that for VidCon 2017, we can work together and make improvements little by little so we can make VidCon the best it can be for everyone.