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TED Talks Now Subtitled

ted_logo.gifTED runs an annual conference bringing together some of the world's foremost thinkers and doers. In addition to their conference, they also carry these videos online. A list of speakers can be found here.

Since the medium of presentation is video, yep you've guessed it. Deaf people have not been able to access this. However, TED talks are now subtitled, or if you live across the other side of the pond and must use American English they are captioned! w00t! Not only in English, but they invite people to translate to other languages. Its a shame there's no recognition of signed languages in that drop down list, and whilst we're on it, Welsh is not included either.

TED Translations page says:

Every talk on TED.com will now have English subtitles, which can be toggled on or off by the user. The number of additional languages varies from talk to talk, based on the number of volunteers who elected to translate it.

Along with subtitles, every talk on TED.com now features a time-coded, interactive transcript, which allows users to select any phrase and have the video play from that point. The transcripts are fully indexable by search engines, exposing previously inaccessible content within the talks themselves. For example, searching on Google for "green roof" will ultimately help you find the moment in architect William McDonough's talk when he discusses Ford's River Rouge plant, and also the moment in Majora Carter's talk when she speaks of her green roof project in the South Bronx. Transcripts will index in all available languages.

The interplay between the video, subtitles and transcript create what we call a Rosetta Stone effect. You can watch, for example, an English talk, with Korean subtitles and an Urdu transcript. Click on an Urdu phrase in the transcript, and the speaker will say it to you in English, with Korean subtitles running right-to-left below. It’s captivating.

Back in 2007, I blogged on Noesis complaining about the lack of subtitles on the TED website.

I also e mailed TED direct (in 2007):

On your website you have a number of videos. These are inaccessible to deaf people, since they do not carry any subtitles. I would very much like to be able to access these, especially the Evelyn Glennie one to be found here: http://www.ted.com/index.php/speakers/view/id/99

Please could you advise.

Their reply:

Thanks so much for your note and suggestion. We agree that there's great value in providing written transcripts, as well as sub-titles for our talks -- serviing both non-English speakers and those with hearing impediments.

We want you to know we *do* plan to provide transcripts for each TED talk, within the next few months. Sub-titles and the possibility of translation will follow soon after.

In the meantime, I've forwarded your note on to our media team, and they will be in touch as we get closer to implementation.

We hope you continue enjoying TED.com! Please do let us know if you have any other comments, questions or suggestions!

A rather ironic suggestion, please continue enjoying TED.com when I could not access it at all! A bit of a rubbing salt into a wound mentality. I replied:

Please could you give serious consideration for the provision of subtitles. Whilst a transcript might be useful for some, this is in no way the same as being able to watch a moving picture, and being able to access it at the same time.

I would appreciate it if your media team could get in touch with me closer to implementation, as I would very much like to be able to access your site, as I'm sure other people too. If subtitling happened, I would certainly blog about this, and other people who could make use of the service would be aware of it.

Anyway, two years later they've sorted it, and not before time. Enjoy TED Translations.

Comments (5)

Captioning is captioning and it isn’t subtitling. Only the U.K. and Ireland call subtitling subtitling and captioning subtitling. This is not in any respect like boot/trunk or bonnet/hood. It’s the wrong word.

Remember, Grumpy British Deafies: Keep agitating for “subtitled” video and someday you’ll find nothing but Japanese or Urdu staring you in the face.

And since when was North America the imperialist rulers of the world? When the world requires me to spell colour, as color; sympathise as sympathize, etc. And to call petrol, gas; aubergines an egg plant; and so on. Then I may consider it.

Until then Joe, its rather arrogant to tell other countries what to do and demonstrates intolerance for diversity.

And remember, the British came up with English first. ;-)

Perhaps we could call them captitles or subtions?

(Joe is a grumpy old captioning advocate)

Good Show, TED Talks!

Looked up captions and subtitles in the dictionary. Same schick. I don't really understand why we need to split hairs.

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