OU media player project

Tony Hirst has just blogged about the Office for Disability Issues new accessible media player AKA the "Most Accessible Media Player on the Web". Both he and Will Woods have alluded to work that The Open University is undertaking. I thought I'd fill in the gaps.

The OU is at the start of a 6 month development to create a multimedia player that (we hope):

  1. Will be an "attractive" player that the average designer/ blogger would be happy to use on their site.
  2. Can be used in a variety of contexts - our Moodle-based virtual learning environment, OpenLearn, OU-Drupal sites, blogs, Cloudworks...
  3. Will deliver content mostly from the OU podcast site in the contexts mentioned above.
  4. Will be accessible to users with disabilities - both in terms of control, and display of alternatives like transcripts and captions.
  5. Usable on a variety of devices, including mobiles and tablets.
  6. Will be delivered in a maintainable way.

The King's Speech portrays stammering well

I've just taken the afternoon off with my wife to see The King's Speech. It's a movie that I highly recommend. As a stammerer myself, I found that I very much lived the film.

Be warned, spoilers follow!

Scene from the film - speech.

The film opens with Prince Albert (Colin Firth), second in line to the throne, preparing to give a speech to close the 1924 Empire Exhibition. He must speak in front of the large crowd at Wembley, and his address is transmitted live around the world on the new wireless radio. He struggles to start the speech, and continues to stammer (with a lot of long and silent "blocks"). Colin Firth conveys this upsetting, traumatic and frustrating experience well, so that I think many in the cinema audience would have shared the discomfort of the crowds watching in the film.

The King's Speech

The movie, The King's Speech is out this Friday 7 January in the UK.

Video trailer on YouTube

It tells the story of Prince Albert's attempts to come to terms with his stammer and the intervention of Lionel Logue as Albert's speech therapist. Albert becomes King George VI on the abdication of his brother Edward. With the outbreak of the Second World War the King must give many important speeches on the radio.

From all that I've heard, I would encourage you to go and see the film. It portrays stammering (stuttering) in a positive light and is entertaining and I hope thought-provoking.

Also, tell your friends about it, and share some love with the British Stammering Association on Facebook.

Happy New Year!

Why we chose Mercurial and Bitbucket

Since the start of October we have been using Bitbucket to host the CloudEngine project. Almost as soon as we made the decision to use Bitbucket, people have asked why? So, I thought I’d reproduce an email I wrote to colleagues then. At the end I’ve noted how I feel about the decision two months on…

Read the full post, why we chose Mercurial and Bitbucket.

Podstars talk – lowering the barrier – technology coffee morning

I've just been to Martin Weller's talk on the Podstars project at the Open University. This is a pilot project to encourage academics from faculties across the OU to try their hand at producing short videos, slidecasts (slide presentations + audio) or other multimedia. Despite the name Podstars, the aim was not to create celebrities, but instead to lower the bar to multimedia production.

Welcome to Classics Confidential! On YouTube.

IET Technology Coffee Morning: Sometimes I s-start to stutter

Abstract: Stammering or stuttering is a speech disability that receives little exposure in the media. It affects about one in every hundred children and adults at some point in their lives, and it can have an impact on education, employment, social integration, and the person's mental well-being and self-esteem. The one in a hundred figure equates to 40 to 50 employees of The Open University and possibly 1500-2000 students.

Writeup of RNIB Techshare conference 2009

(Finally! Based on notes from 17 September 2009!)

Some highlights from Techshare 2009 included, Richard Schwerdtfeger of IBM talking about Web 2.0, WAI-ARIA and WCAG 2.0. He also talked about collaboration, communities, and personalization for example for video and HTML 5 - the potential to store accessibility preferences in the browser (could this work with the server?)