Chapter 1 in an accessibility story: HTML 5 video

One day, as I read on planet, I learned that Firefox would be supporting <video> and <audio>.

“Yowza! What about captions? What about audio description? Another uphill accessibility battle. No one is even slated to work on this!”

I’m skeptical is no longer The Mozilla community came through for accessibility once again. First, I spoke with Henri Sivonen & Chris Double. Both understood the importance. Henri is always able to help focus a discussion on the right issues, and Chris reassured me he will make sure that implementation happens, but we needed a plan.

Chris introduced me to Silvia Pfeiffer, Silvia is an experienced engineer with diverse experience in automatic creation of video metadata and captions, video hyperlinking, MPEG standards, Ogg and Annodex, as well as Web applications using Adobe Flash. She is an active member of the Xiph / Ogg community. She is extremely keen to solve accessibility issues for Ogg media files, and easy to agree with.

Silvia has an extremely cool hybrid German-Aussie accent.

Last week, Silvia started on a Mozilla Foundation grant to work with the community to develop a plan for accessibility support in HTML 5 <video> and <audio>, using an Ogg container. It’s a complex area, with many factors such as existing standards, formats and authoring tools, to be considered. Silvia’s recent blog entry does a good job at introducing the work and pointing to her wiki docs describing the requirements and background.

It’s not just a matter of implementing what exists today. There are opportunities to assist video indexing, support social creation of accessible content for existing media, provide new capabilities for expressing emotion, and more. Naturally, these ideas must be considered in the design process while maintaining a pragmatic view and avoiding unnecessary complexity.

Silvia has created the mailing list for discussion. and you can also find her on #accessibility as “nessy”.

P.S. Thank you to Frank Hecker for making this possible, as he has for so many other open source accessibility iniatives.

UPDATE: Silvia tells me that she has a bit of a Scottish accent mixed in there as well (she spent 1 year in Scotland).


4 Responses to Chapter 1 in an accessibility story: HTML 5 video

  1. What exactly do you miss? In HTML5 you can add two types of information accessibility to the video.

    The first one is fallback content (content inside video tag) for browsers that don’t understand video tag (it’s mainly good for backward compatibility).

    The second one is tag figure that can connect video and textual information (it’s named figure, but should work for video and audio too).

    If this isn’t enough, what exactly are you missing?

  2. aaronlev says:

    Hi Martin. Specifically we need support for captioning, timed with the content, so that people who cannot hear can read the dialog. This is similar to the captioning you see on television programs.

    We also need to be able to time audio descriptions with the content. This is like the second audio program used on television. It’s not as common as captioning, but still an important capability to have.

    If you have further questions feel free to go over to Silvia’s blog post. She’s going to be driving this effort.

  3. Havvy says:

    It would be nice to link to a captioning system like favicons, CSS files, and Javascript files; or having it included in the specification as an option. That way the main HTML file can remain small, unless you know, the person wants to have it in the HTML themselves (which is where the other file comes in handy, as you could just throw it in)

  4. aaronlev says:

    Havvy, can you leave that comment on Silvia’s blog or in her new mailing list so the right people see it?

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