Multimedia Accessibility – MALT Wiki and services, alpha

An IET technology coffee morning talk by Wendy Porch and me, on the MALT Wiki project.

ABSTRACT: The generally low incidence of captioning for the deaf and audio description for those with sight impairments on the web is in stark contrast to the progress made in basic web accessibility. The captioning function offered by YouTube is a step in the right direction, though there are clear problems. Audio description is in a worse state.

5 steps to being an oEmbed provider

In the words of the specification,

“oEmbed is a format for allowing an embedded representation of a URL on third party sites. The simple API allows a website to display embedded content (such as photos or videos) when a user posts a link to that resource, without having to parse the resource directly.”

JISC CETIS conference - A Brave New World?

10th November

9.00 Registration and networking
10.30 Welcome – Paul Hollins
10.40 Keynote – Chris Cobb, Pro Vice Chancellor, Roehampton University:
"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but rather the one most adaptable to change..."
11.20 Keynote – Oleg Liber, outgoing Director of CETIS
12.00 Introduction to the conference - Paul Hollins
12.30 Lunch
13.30 Parallel sessions
University API
Gazing into the Future: Looking for Weak Signals with iCOPER
Open Educational Resources Technical Roundtable

MALT Wiki player with personalization mockup

Wendy Porch and I presented an evaluation version of the new MALT Wiki player at Techshare, in September. Since then I've been busy with other projects, but I've now had time to produce a mockup demonstrating personalization options and how I hope to get people to contribute. This is based on my own thoughts and some interesting points raised by people including Jonathan Hassell during our presentation.

The screenshot below shows the player with a panel below starting "About Learn about Moodle". The player works, while the meta-data and personalization panel is mostly just a mockup. This panel would be hidden initially, with a "show/hide" button. And the thinking is that the panel would always be available, including when a video is embedded in a third-party site like a blog, a virtual learning environment or video sites like YouTube.

MALT Wiki player, with mockup meta-data and personalization panel

MALT Wiki player with personalization and meta-data mockup, on Flickr

Flash wmode considered harmful

Despite the emergence of the <video> element in HTML 5, Shockwave Flash is still the defacto standard for publish multimedia on the Web. Macromedia, and now Adobe have improved the support for assistive technologies and software interfaces like Microsoft Active Accessibility (MSAA) within the Flash browser plug-ins and it is now possible to create a video player in which all the controls and status information are perceivable by screen reader users. So all the challenges to do with Flash have been overcome, no problems? Wrong.

I and others have uncovered what appears to be a little publicised or little known flaw that renders some of the "embed codes" displayed at sites like YouTube, Vimeo et al completely inaccessible.

Screen shot, wmode = window - default, OK

Twitter accessibility user styles

Last year I started experimenting with user style sheets - text files you can install on your computer to re-format or change the appearance of a web-site or sites. You may want to do this, if for instance some adverts or animations on your favourite site annoy you, or to increase colour contrast or font-size. A while ago, I created a style sheet for Twitter, and today I uploaded it to - you can install it through Stylish for Firefox (or IE7Pro for Internet Explorer - not tested!)

Screen shot: Twitter accessibility style sheet in action