Amara Makes Video More Accessible

I just discovered a subtitling tool called Amara that is a global captioning and translation project for video. I’m a couple of years behind the times. In case you haven’t heard of it either, here’s an introduction to the tool.

Amara is now helping with translations and captioning in many places. They say their caption editor is easy to use. I didn’t try it out, but it’s free. Amara also provides you with a way to connect to others around the world who might be willing to help translate and caption a video into another language. Since translating and or captioning a video is a labor intensive process, it’s interesting that this web-based tool is using the idea of crowd sourcing the work.

  • There’s a good review of how using the tool works at PCWorld. The review is a couple of years old so there may be improvements since then.
  • The Global Voices Community Blog has a recently updated post of instructions for translators who use Amara.
  • Vimeo, TED, and many other organizations partnered with Amara. TED provides a set of tutorials for Amara users.

Their Twitter account is @AmaraSubs. Their Facebook page is Amara Community. Neither have frequent postings, but they are worth following if you are interested in accessibility or teach accessibility in your web education classes or at conferences.

Characters, Symbols and the Unicode Miracle – Computerphile (Video)

What exactly is UTF-8? I’m always telling students to choose it as the character encoding for their HTML documents. It turns out that representing symbols, characters and letters that are used worldwide is not easy, but UTF-8 managed it. Tom Scott explains how the web has settled on a standard. @tomscott

Presentation: Ten Checkpoints of a Web Standards Based Curriculum

I presented this at HighEdWebDev 2007 today. It was presented as a powerpoint presentation. My narrative explained that this presentation was mainly about what sort of student learning outcomes I would expect to see in an institution where web standards were part of the curriculum. I did touch on a couple of important overall considerations as well.

I have captured only the slides and converted them into a movie. There is no sound. Please return to this post if you have comments or questions.

View the movie.

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in Web-

(with apologies to ee cummings)

in Web-
standards       when the world is markup- 
luscious the semantic
html advocate

separates       words       and presentation

and everyone comes 
running from the inaccessible and
unusable and it's

when the content is open-wonderful 

the valid
old handcoder posts 
far       and       wide
and readers come dancing

from mobiles and screen-readers and


standardsista       posts 

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A conversation with Stephanie Troeth

I discovered a very interesting woman in the course of getting ready for SXSW. My co-presenter for a SXSW Interactive panel, Stephanie Troeth, is that woman. Luckily, she agreed to an interview of sorts, since I thought you would like to know more about her, too.

Steph is a member of the Web Standards Project (WaSP), a grassroots organization working for the adoption of web standards. She’s a co-lead of the International Liason Group and serves on the Education Task Force at WaSP. Steph said she became interested in web standards because of an excellent mentor she had while in college. To Steph, web standards and usability just made sense. She calls them elegant. They save time, work, and create beautiful results.

Her involvement with WaSP began in 2003 when she was recruited to work by Molly Holzschlag after Molly saw some work she did for an outfit called MACCAWS. Steph’s personal website is, where she laments that everything is out of date. You can see a few examples of her poetry and other writing there, even though she is too busy working and traveling to promote web standards to keep it updated often.

Steph has a computer science degree. Her minor is in musical composition, and she performed on the keyboards from the age of 7 all the way through college. Although she is not composing music right now, she retains a strong interest in the arts, music and–get this–modern street art. As we strolled around the streets of downtown Austin today, she kept remarking on how square everything was. I must get her away from downtown so she can sample some of Austin’s very unsquare and famously weird ambience.

She was born in Borneo, is of mostly Chinese extraction, went to college in Australia, and now works in Montreal. You can see where her interest in using standards for the internationalization of web sites came from! Her day job at a Montreal company bills her as Director of Technology and Web Development. Part of that job is to hire people in the web development area, a job made more difficult because the college graduates she has to choose from are not often taught to use web standards as a best practice.

If you are at SXSW, come by on Sunday at 4:00 to see our talk on Best Practices in Teaching Web Design. Steph will also be participating in the WaSP panel on Monday at 5:00. Catch her in both places.

This is cross-posted at BlogHer.

WaSP announces International Liaison Group

A new group dedicated to promoting the global use of standards to ensure an equitable Web is the International Liaison Group – The Web Standards Project. According to the announcement written by Molly Holzschlag,

ILG is formally led by two incredibly dedicated women, Stephanie Troeth and Glenda Sims, whose individual contributions to professionalism and excellence in our industry are simply outstanding.

Glenda Sims has been a force in the accessibility movement for years. Stephanie Troeth is a member of the WaSP education task force as well as the ILG, and is my presentation partner for our presentation on “Best Practices in Teaching Web Standards” at SXSWi this year. (We’re scheduled for Sunday afternoon.)

Meet me at SXSW

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Framing the web design experience

Dan Russell has a couple of posts on sense making over at Creating Passionate Users. Today’s post said something that stuck me as a key element in terms of teaching web design.

The point is that you need to frame things because the act of framing helps to focus on what to do next.

There’s a struggle involved in getting teachers who are used to teaching methods that began with Photoshop comps or tables based design moved over into a way of thinking that emphasizes semantics and interoperability. I think what we have here is a framing issue.

We need to reframe the whole notion of web design. Instead of thinking first about how we expect to make a site look, we need to think first about how we expect a site to be semantically organized. If we organize the content in a semantic manner, we achieve interoperability. Any design can be added to the structure we develop. Or as Mani Scheriar said in a previous post,

Let’s code our XHTML as if we plan to have 10 different designers apply their own unique layouts to it.

This is truly a change in thinking, a new frame for the whole idea of “designing a web site.” We can no longer assume that our web sites will be viewed on computer monitors. There are too many mobile devices out there. More, in fact, than computers. And at least 10 percent of your visitors will be using some sort of assistive device such as a screen reader to obtain your content. We have to think first about content and how it can be coded semantically in order to make our sites operable and accessible for any device. Once that goal is reached, we can think about creating a beautiful appearance for our content.

For those of you planning to attend SXSWi 2007, I invite you to attend my session on Sunday afternoon called “Best Practices in Teaching Web Design.” It’s a 25 minute power session with co-presenter Stephanie Troeth.

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