case study: Massachusetts Tackles Streaming Accessibility by ProQuest


Having been involved in Web video production for more than 3 years, the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR) has always tried to make its videos more accessible to those with disabilities. After investigating a number of online video publishing solutions such as Brightcove, Vidego, and YouTube, the DOR learned that these video management systems did not possess the accessibility features it was looking for. As none of these private-sector solutions met its goals, the DOR decided to take the initiative and build a content management system and accessible video player itself. In a nutshell, the Media Content Management System (MCMS) was designed to significantly simplify the front-end video importing, closed-captioning, and posting processes, as well as the maintenance of the player's video menu. The player's interface was designed to be user-friendly, like most contemporary rich Internet applications. To assist visually impaired viewers, the department developed a text-to-speech workflow for the Media Content Management System that allows it to add computer-generated voices to the player.

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									     case study
     Massachusetts Tackles Streaming Accessibility
                                                                                                                 By Edward Peters

        These days, most of us take viewing a web video for
     granted—find a site, make a click or two, and off we go.                                                                        Figure 1.The video
                                                                                                                                     player is located on
     Thanks to Flash, it’s all become remarkably easy. For                                                                           the Massachusetts
     some viewers, though, it’s not quite so simple; accessing                                                                       Department of
     web videos can be a difficult—if not impossible—                                                                                Revenue’s homepage.

     experience for those who have vision or hearing
     impairments. While current web technology mostly relies
     on commercial screen readers to synthesize web text into
     speech, many readers or self-talking browsers are not
     particularly reliable in enabling impaired users to access
     a website’s video player or helping them watch a
     particular video. This problem can be especially acute
     with videos that begin playing as soon as a page is
     loaded. Accordingly, many webmasters and video
     content managers who are concerned with accessibility
     usually just post a transcript of the video and call it a day.
        Having been involved in web video production for
     more than 3 years, the Massachusetts Department of
     Revenue (DOR) has always tried to make its videos more           initiative and build a content management system
     accessible to those with disabilities. It is keenly aware, as    (CMS) and accessible video player itself (Figure 1).
     a state agency, of the need for government sites to make            After obtaining support from revenue commissioner
     a positive effort to comply with current federal                 Navjeet Bal and senior deputy commissioner Jim
     accessibility law—in particular the requirements set forth       Reynolds, a small working group was formed within the
     in the 1998 amendment to the Federal Rehabilitation Act,         DOR’s publishing and media services group. The
     commonly referred to as section 508, and the web                 working group included Peter Olejnik, creative director;
     content accessibility guidelines developed by the World          Alan Sweeney, interactive media developer; and William
     Wide Web Consortium (W3C). These guidelines were                 Grand, an interactive developer. Olejnik took the lead
     created to eliminate barriers in information technology,         role in developing the media content management
     provide new opportunities for people with disabilities,          system and player while also managing the day-to-day
     and encourage the development of technologies that help          particulars of the project.
     achieve these goals.                                                After months of programming, design configurations,
        With these guidelines in mind, the DOR created a              and trials, the group emerged with a product
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