Wednesday, November 30, 2005

An Article from NAD.

Eye on Washington
Keeping Up with New Technology
November 30, 2005 -- Vol. 4, No. 4

By Kelby N. Brick, Esq.
Director, NAD Law and Advocacy

The response from the last column on captioning was very positive. Many of you took action. Kudos to each of you. Those of you who have not-do so now at Your comments showed how important captions are in each of your lives. Thanks to all who wrote. A select few are at the end of this column.

NAD Working on Broadband Bill

The NAD is working hard to pass a law in Congress on broadband. Broadband is high speed Internet. There are many things that we are trying to accomplish that will affect internet acces, relay access and video captioning access. We need your support.

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was written almost 10 years ago. It is out-of-date. That is why Congress needs to re-write it in 2006. The U.S. House of Representatives has already started. Its Energy and Commerce Committee aims to have a bill by December. The Senate is moving more slowly -- and needs to be told to get going.

What we need right now is public support for key issues in the draft of th ebill that will make telecommunications more accessible.

Ask Yourself these Questions...

Do you use e-mail?
The current law doesn't discuss e-mail. Most people started using e-mail in 1997 or 1998, after the 1996 law.

Do you use Instand Messaging (IM)?
Most people started using IM in 2002 or 2003. (It's true -- it seems as if it's been around forever but it hasn't!)

Do you use a webcam, a video camera, or a video phone to sign to other people?
That's not covered in the law (again, no one was doing it in 1995).

Do you use your computer for relay calls?
The law as revised in 1996 expected you to be using a TTY.

Do you use Video Relay?
That's not covered under the outdated law.

Do you watch any streaming video -- like a video on your computer? Or a short version from a TV show? Some people even get short videos on their cell phones. None of this is captioned. That's perfectly legal now.

Do you feel as if you're paying enough, or even too much, for your services?
Universal service is the key to keeping costs down. Legislation is needed to protect and preserve universal service, especially in rural areas.

Do you want a law to change all that?
We've proposed some changes. The House of Representatives seems to indicate that they will support our proposal.

The House draft would:

* require that video be captioned. It would say that the same rules that now apply to broadcast and cable-cast programming apply to video steaming.
* outlaw "locking you in" and otherwise preventing interoperability of video relay.
* requires companies, as they design new products and services, t take steps to make sure they are accessible. This includes all kinds of communication services, including video, email and IM. So we won't face a future where e-mail "talks" to us instead of showing us text.

Here is How You Can Help! It's Easy!

You need to tell your Senators and Reprensentatives that our proposal is important and must be supported. It'll only take two minutes of your time but is very important to your access to technology.

Just go to and follow instructions.

Don't forget to spread the word.

Onwards and Upwards!


NOTE: Eye on Washington information is a product of the NAD copyright 2005 National Association of the Deaf. This Eye on Washington may be copied, printed, and distributed freely with credit given to the National Association of the Deaf.

If you find this information beneficial, please consider joining the NAD!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Subtitles in Video Games.

My brother Shawn, an avid video game player, asked me to blog about subtitles in video games. He buys all his games and accessories from Game Stop...I've learned that it is the world largest video game retailer. It has stores all over North America and in other countries as well.

Currently my brother is playing a game called God of War. He loves this game, however, he's disappointed that it doesn't have subtitles in it as other great games like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Final Fantasy X, and Kingdom Hearts. This game God of War has received a rare perfect 10 rating from Game Stop's magazine called Game Informer. I checked it out and decided to e-mail them about it. Read below.

Date: Tues, 29 Nov 2005
Subject: Feedback On Ratings.

Mr. Reiner,

Based on your perfect 10 rating on God of War in April of 2005 issue. I purchased the game from my local Game Stop and I loved the game except one thing.

I was immediately disappointed by one thing that happens too often in video games. Like millions of other forgotten people, I'm deaf and my brother who is hard of hearing, we are unable to truly enjoy the game like others who can hear because there are no subtitles to the awesome storyline it has.

Highly rated games like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Final Fantasy X, and Kingdom Hearts has subtitles in their games, those are the games that we love because of the subtitles and we have been hoping that more games will follow suit.

I hope you will have Game Informer to encourage game makers to add subtitles to their games by adding a new standard to your ratings by checking if they have subtitles or not. If not, deduct ? number of points, if have subtitles, add ? number of points.

I hope to hear back from you about this feedback on ratings regarding subtitles in games.


Monday, November 28, 2005

CNN's Response.

Yesterday, I filled out an online feedback form about captions/subtitles not being available on their videos on and below is the response that I've gotten from them today. Their reponse is disappointing because we know that their claim of "constraints of content" is untrue. I ask you all to go to the feedback form and let them know that you want them to provide captions/subtitles on all their video contents on their websites. In the meantime, I will try to call them about this.

Subject: Free Video Support
Date: Mon, 28 Nov 2005 11:51:45-0500


Thank you contacting CNN.'s Free Video service does not offer closed captioning due to the constraints of content.

More information about's Free Video service is available on our FAQ page: Video content is located throughout the site. The latest clips in all sections can be found at

Please continue to send us your feedback on our free video service. Your input helps us consider changes that will most appeal to you, our valued user.

Thanks again for your interest and keep your browser pointed to

CNN Public Information
"CNN, The Most Trusted Name In News"

Friday, November 25, 2005

One Game At A Time - One Website At A Time.

You often hear this quote among coaches giving their speeches to their players to take it "one game at a time" to reach the championship.

This is pretty much what I'm adopting for online web captioning; take it one website at a time. It takes time for a law to be written, lobbied, debated, and to be put in effect. We have to start now, do our part, take it one website at a time.

Two days ago, I went over Target's website for their black Friday sales and I found their TV commericals were online. I love Kermit the frog and I clicked to watch the videos but there no captions. Hence, Target became my website of the day. I did two things, filled out their online form and I called their 800 guest service line that they had provided. The number is 1-800-591-3869.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Two Counties in Georgia Covered.

Yesterday, I surfed through twelve high school websites. Six in Bibb County and six in Houston County. Nearly all the schools have over 1,000 students; some even have over 2,000 students. None of the schools offers ASL classes; they offer French, German, Spanish, and Latin.

I sent an e-mail to twelve of these schools' principals requesting them to offer ASL classes and I hope to hear from at least six of them. I will be keep you posted on my progress. I hope you guys can take 5 to 15 minutes of your time to find your local high school's contact information and send them a letter, e-mail, or a phone call. Please feel more than free to use my letter in my previous blog to send to the principals.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Start Of An E-mail Campaign.

Hello Friends,

I'm starting an e-mail campaign with you on having 'ASL Classes In The Mainstream'. After you've read this, I ask you to forward this e-mail to your family and friends and I hope they'll do the same.

It's a topic I've brought up on my blog. You can check it out at To sum up on what I'm doing, I'm asking you all to practice self-advocacy, to be a planter of our future.

Attached with this e-mail is a letter asking a high school principal to consider offering ASL classes in his/her school. The underlying basis for this is to improve our way of life by increasing the number of our interpreters, teachers, counselors, advocates, and on and on. To increase awareness of the language and the culture it brings. Who knows, maybe a past ASL student will become a future Senator or Governor where he or she could help us implement laws that will improve our future such as enforcing videos on the Internet to be captioned for us.

With this letter, I ask you to find your principal's name and the school's address from the phone book or the Internet then mail this letter. You could send an e-mail if you prefer or if you have the opportunity to bring it up in person then that would be awesome.


Saturday, November 19, 2005

How About A Southern Signing Town?

Cave Spring, GA!

Cave Spring is nestled in a gorgeous valley in northwest of Georgia, few miles from the Alabama border. They're perfectly described as a classic small southern town. This town's population is listed at 975. There is only one stop light in town. No fast food restaurants there. It has 90 buildings and sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Georgia School for the Deaf (GSD) is located there since 1844. The median house value is at $75,000. The crime rate is nearly at zero. The average temperature in January is at 40 degrees and in July is at 88 degrees. There is a deaf senior citizen living center. You can pretty much walk to everywhere if you wanted.

This town is clearly not for everybody but its perfect for me. It's an incredible place to raise kids. To have a neat little garden in the back. To get to know nearly everybody in town. Attend GSD events and support them. Give visits to the deaf senior citizen living center. Take out a small business loan and set up a 'Sonny's Tavern' in town.

As we can see from the people's interest in the future northern signing town of Laurent, SD. How about giving them an option... Cave Spring, GA is it. I would guess that there are approximately 90 deaf residents there already. That is nearly ten percent of the town's population. I don't see why not to have this number to grow and make it 'our' town.

Please do leave comments and questions...anything. I'll reply to them.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Shortage of Interpreters

Video relay services (VRS) have been rapidly expanding for the last two years and continue to do so today. I have been seeing more and more people pointing out that they're the cause of our shortage of interpreters. This has to stop. We need to practice self-advocacy.

The shortage of interpreters has always been there! It's stated at the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) website that there are 4,424 certified interpreters nationwide as of July 2003. Certainly there are more interpreters out there but it is not enough.

Join with me here and read my two past blogs about ASL classes in the mainstream. We must become planters to plant the seeds of our future. Send out letters, phone calls, e-mails, or bring it up in person that you request the school to have ASL classes.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Advocacy Letter: ASL Classes In The Mainstream.

Here it is below, you can copy this letter and make a few adjustment then send it to your neighborhood principal urging them to have ASL classes. Feel free to comment on any revisions needed for this letter.

November 14, 2005

Pat Coxsey
Principal, Westside High School
2851 Heath Road
Macon, Georgia 31216

Dear Principal Coxsey,

I write to you to ask you to consider having American Sign Language as part of your school’s foreign language department.

American Sign Language also known as ASL is the fourth most used language in the United States. ASL has allowed the communication gap between the deaf community and the rest of the world to bridged. Interest in sign language continues to grow with more and more people wanting to learn this unique form of visual communication. Many colleges and universities offer sign language classes and a growing number of high schools are adopting this. Learning ASL takes time. It does not take five minutes or overnight. To pick up enough signs for basic communication and to sign them comfortably, without stiffness, can take one or two years.

It can make difference in your students’ lives and those of others. There are hundreds of job opportunities they can explore the possible careers as teachers, counselors, consultants, therapists, specialists, and interpreters for the Deaf.

Please do not hesitate to contact me for further information at Thank you for your time and consideration.



Friday, November 11, 2005

ASL Classes In The Mainstream.

I recall few years back around 2000; it was a time when a wave of high schools across America began adopting American Sign Language (ASL) classes in their curriculum as their foreign language requisite.

It was awesome. It opened up new jobs for us as instructors. Some of them have gone on to become our interpreters and other deaf related fields. I love it when I bump into a signing waitress, bartenders, or store clerks. Yes, there are few annoying people that approach us and say "look, I can sign" but the benefits far outweighs this annoyance. You get the general idea.

Have ASL classes in high schools hit its plateau? The chatter of new ASL classes popping up in our neighborhood schools has pretty much dissolved after five years. What is apparent to me is that we need to renew our diligence to request and promote schools in having ASL classes.

Over the weekend, I'll come up with a generalized letter draft that you all can copy and paste then send it to your local high schools through e-mail or letters. I will also see if I will find some helpful links out there in the web and add it to my sidebar for future references. If you have any feedback or comments, please do share.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Laws On Web Accessability.

I did a bit of web searching on what are the laws out there for us deafies on web accessability. I was directed to two Sections, 255 of the Telecommunication Act and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

I read through it and I have to admit, I'm lost. Not because I didn't understand it, it's because of two things.

First, there's a huge gap missing for what must be provided for us on the Internet, specifically along the lines of web captioning. Is there anybody or an organization out there that is working on filling in this gap? We can only do so much to promote and encourage websites to provide captions on their videos but realistically enforcing the law is the way to go.

Secondly, section 508 is only limited to the federal sector. What I'm lost on is why doesn't it enforce the same rules to those in private sector that receives federal funding? This is one obvious way to broaden the powers of section 508.

To sum this up, when new technology or an idealogy comes, we must go back to our laws and ensure that its updated otherwise we'll be left in the dust.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

More On Web Captioning.

I can't move on to a new topic without providing at least some support on where and how to get web captioning. So I headed over to Google (who doesn't?) and here's a select few links that I will be adding to my collection of links on the right of the screen.

Here's the link on how to create your own web captioning for Quicktime, RealPlayer, and Windows Media Player. I found something cannot view captions on Quicktime unless you're willing to fork over $29.99 for the Quicktime Pro version because the Pro version has the option to turn on the captions. Isn's that an outrage? What's with Apple? Here's another thing about them, I discovered a blog complaining that the new video iPod doesn't have subtitles whereas the new Playstation Portable has it. Here's the link to air out your complaint that the new video iPod ought to have subtitles too.

Here's the rest of the links on web captioning services. National Captioning Institute. CaptionMax. Video Caption Corporation.

To wrap up on this topic, I found an e-mail listserv for the advocacy of captioning. It has 900 members on it, cool! I'm signing up.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Demand For Online Captioning.

I've finally decided to jump the bandwagon from the little known world of Xanga to the unlimited reach of Blogger. Two reasons, I've done this is because I am now committed to blog once a day whereas at Xanga, I blogged every now and then. Secondly, it's because I want to step up on activism. I want to speak up and reach an unlimited potential of people out there. Just the other day, a friend of mine, known as Ridor was quoted on and that blew me away.


There are more and more videos streaming online and they aren't those pesky advertisements or music videos. They're movie trailers, local and international news, baseball games, and now coming soon are 99 cents tv shows. Every now and then I would send the webmaster of that site my request for their consideration to add captions on their online videos. I've gotten nearly no answers. It is my request to you all reading this. Every time you see an online video without captions, find an e-mail address and send them your complaint. I've checked the National Association of the Deaf website on this issue and this was all they had.