Sunday, January 29, 2006

I discovered a neat search engine last week called This search engine is geared to find captioned video and audio on the web! I tested it out and I was disappointed that most of the results came from I've found that there is an e-mail listserv on that is open to the public. I signed up and sent out an e-mail to the listserv asking how this search engine works and who is behind it. I've gotten a response and I've decided to throw my full support behind this wonderful new search engine. I'm posting his response. I hope you'll also throw your support behind him and the website to improve the captioning quantity and quality on the web.
"Harkle Speaks"

Hi Sonny-

I'm James Short and I run You're finding a lot of PBS results because they have made the biggest committment so far to provide online captioning. But there are others! Federal government organizations like the National Institutes of Health, HUD and CDC along with many universities and sites like are providing some captioning. The University of Texas did a nice series called "Photojournalism and the Presidency." A search for "Texas" will get results.

Here's a tip: to find more records, try doing a single letter search like "a" and see what you get.

Harkle is a work in progress and a labor of love without much funding. It needs user feedback to improve. Please send me your suggestions and encourage people to submit their captioning to the database!

James Short

Friday, January 27, 2006

Movie Theaters Accessibility Act of 2006

Not long ago I blogged about "by the year 2030..." Read the link before going on.

I've strayed for some time from writing up the new Act for accessibility in movie theaters because I'm no expert in legal writing. However, it came to me that I could copy the 'Television Decoder Circuitry Act of 1990' and change the wording to make it into its own Movie Theaters Accessibility Act of 2006. It's work in progress and I'm reaching out on this blog to ask you to help me to give me feedback on this and I need help revising section 3, 4, and 6.

As you will notice from reading below that I've added the mandate of having movie theaters to provide audio description to the Act below. The reason I've done this was to strengthen the Act by grouping the deaf and hard of hearing people with the blind and people with low-vision.


Movie Theaters Accessibility Act of 2006

An Act to require new movie theaters to have built in captioning and audio description devices in 50% of their screens.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

Section. 1. This Act may be cited as the "Movie Theaters Accessibility Act of 2006".

Sec. 2. The Congress finds that--

(1) to the fullest extent made possible by technology, deaf, vision and hearing impairments people should have equal access to the movie theaters;
(2) movie theaters with captioning and audio description devices have made it possible for thousands of deaf, vision and hearing impairments people to gain access to the movie theaters, thus significantly improving the quality of their lives;
(3) movie theaters with captioning and audio description devices will provide access to information, entertainment, and a greater understanding of our Nation and the world to over 28,000,000 people in the United States who are deaf, vision and hearing impairments;
(4) movie theaters with captioning and audio description devices will provide benefits for the nearly 38 percent of older Americans who have some loss of hearing and vision;
(5) movie theaters with captioning and audio description devices can assist both hearing and hearing-impaired children with reading and other learning skills, and improve literacy skills among adults;
(6) movie theaters with captioning and audio description devices can assist those among our Nation's large immigrant population who are learning English as a second language with language comprehension;
(7) currently, a consumer must travel to limited theater locations in order to enjoy movies with captioning and audio description devices provided;
(8) the availability of movie theaters with captioning and audio description devices will significantly increase the audience that can be served by captioned and audio description movies, and such increased market will be an incentive to the movie theaters to provide more captioned and audio description movies.

Sec. 3. Section 303 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 303) is amended by adding at the end thereof the following:

"(u) Require that apparatus designed to receive television pictures broadcast simultaneously with sound be equipped with built-in decoder circuitry designed to display closed-captioned television transmissions when such apparatus is manufactured in the United States or imported for use in the United States, and its television picture screen is 13 inches or greater in size.".

Sec. 4. (a) Section 330 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 330) is amended by redesignating subsection (b) as subsection (c), and by inserting immediately after subsection (a) the following new subsection:

"(b) No person shall ship in interstate commerce, manufacture, assemble, or import from any foreign country into the United States, any apparatus described in section 303(u) of this Act except in accordance with rules prescribed by the Commission pursuant to the authority granted by that section. Such rules shall provide performance and display standards for such built-in decoder circuitry. Such rules shall further require that all such apparatus be able to receive and display closed captioning which have been transmitted by way of line 21 of the vertical blanking interval and which conform to the signal and display specifications set forth in the Public Broadcasting System engineering report numbered E-7709-C dated May 1980, as amended by the Telecaption II Decoder Module Performance Specification published by the National Captioning Institute, November 1985. As new video technology is developed, the Commission shall take such action as the Commission determines appropriate to ensure that closed-captioning service continues to be available to consumers. This subsection shall not apply to carriers transporting such apparatus without trading it.".
(b) Section 330(c) of such Act, as redesignated by subsection (a) of this section, is amended by deleting "and section 303(s)" and inserting in lieu thereof ", section 303(s), and section 303(u)".

Sec. 5. Sections 3 and 4 of this Act shall take effect on July 1, 2008.

Sec. 6. The Federal Communications Commission shall promulgate rules to implement this Act within 180 days after the date of its enactment.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Feedback Links Provided.

Nearly everyday, I send out at least one e-mail complaint or feedback form regarding captioning online videos provided by all the major networks and Internet sites. I encourage everybody to do the same. Instead of going out in search for the phone numbers, e-mail addresses or feedback form links. I thought it would be convenient for me to post them here for everybody.

Major Network Stations: ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX and NBC.

Major Internet Sites: AOL, Apple, Google, MSN and Yahoo.

For future referrence, you can come back to this blog and find the links on the right of your screen. If you have more links that you feel I should also provide, please let me know through my comment form. Thanks!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Boston Light & Sound.

Here's an update on the costs of rear window captioning system (RWC). I called Boston Light & Sound because their website states that they're the exclusive manufacturer/supplier of the reflectors used in the rear window systems.

The number I dialed (617) 787-3131 connected me directly to a salesperson who was more than happy to share the information about their 'reflectors'. I asked how they've come to be the exclusive manufacturer/supplier of the 'reflectors'. She explained that the company jumped at the idea of the RWC when it was in its development stages and they immediately made a top-notch prototype and received a patent on it. They've been selling it every since with improved versions coming out every other year. I expressed my concern that their reflectors were priced too high at $100 per reflector and hindering the market for more RWC in movie theaters around the country. She assured me that they're reasonably priced to the value that they're being made. This answer led me to ask where they make their reflectors. She said that in the early years, it was made in Ireland but now the production has moved to New York. I suggested to her that they could have their reflectors made in China or other countries to lower the price on the reflectors. I half-expected her to be offended by the suggestion but instead she laughed and said oh no, she doesn't think so because the company believes in keeping production in America.

I took a turn in the converstation by asking her about the 'whole RWC system' with the red led light display and the device to run it. She said the other companies does that but they do handle it and they charge $17,000 for the whole service per movie screen and get this, they don't install it, they just mail you the equipment and the theater has to install it themselves. WOW! $17,000 is much higher than I've reported in my previous blog at $11,000. I thanked the salesperson for the informative converstation and she referred me to check out the supplier of the captioning devices that nearly all the theaters have. I will call DTS sometimes this week and post an update about it.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

TIME Magazine.

I subscribe to TIME magazine. I've just received the January 23rd edition and on page 69, there's an one page article on '5,000 CHANNELS: TV ON THE INTERNET' and it features Apple iTunes, Google, AOL and Yahoo!. This article has made me send my first e-mail to TIME magazine and hopefully it'll get published in their 'LETTERS' section.

A realization has come to me that any time a publiciation touts the television or movie content being available on the Internet...We MUST reply back to the publication and spread the awareness that we're being denied of services where there's no captions provided online whereas they're provided on our television screen. Below is my letter to TIME magazine.

In reponse of January 23rd, 2006 issue of Time magazine on page 69 - titled '5,000 Channels: TV on the Internet'.

"Millions of deaf and hard of hearing people including those that use English as their second language are being left out of '5,000 channels: TV on the Internet' because not ONE of those companies mentioned - 'Apple, Google, AOL and Yahoo!' provide captions or subtitles on the TV or videos content provided online. I ask Time magazine and other media outlets to give us a voice that we're being denied of services and please push those 'so-called online leaders of the Internet' to caption/subtitle all of their videos provided online. It's common sense - those shows are captioned on our television screens hence it should be captioned on the Internet too."


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Rear Window Captioning System At $11,000!?!

Great news! I've just gotten off the video phone (VP) with the manager of my local movie theater in Macon, Georgia. The rear window captioning system (RWC) equipment has arrived and is in process of being installed. I'm very excited about this and I truly hope that readers of this blog will take up the intiative to contact their local movie theater chain and the headquarter often to have them put your theater on the top of the list of receiving RWC equipment.

However, there is one disappointing news. My local theater has 14 screens and I was initially told that two of the screens will be equipped with the RWC and 20 reflective windows but instead only one screen will be equipped with 14 reflective windows available. I asked the manager what happened with the cutback, the response was the costs of the RWC.

I checked around online without making phone calls. I found that the costs of a movie theater to receive a RWC system is at estimated $11,000 or more and the cost goes down a bit if they order more than one. I found this price to be eye-popping. I decided to search further around the web to find the manufacturers of RWC systems and I could only find one, Boston Light & Sound. Check the link and you'll see that they sell a single reflective window at $100 a piece. Whoa, expensive! As for the RWC system, they don't advertise it online but I'm pretty sure they manufacture and sell them...I'll be calling them tomorrow to find out more information.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Deaf/Blind Specialty License Plate.

As of January 1st, Georgia debuted 18 new specialty license plates to choose from along with over 40 specialty plates already available.

An idea came up to me recently about having a specialty license plate with the revenue coming from it to go to the deaf. How cool would that be? It could go to any designed deaf services available that pushes for it. My support would go for the state funded deaf schools in Cave Spring and Clarkston however I can't forget that the state also funds a blind school (here in Macon) thus I thought it would be best to be fair to include them. The more the plate sells the more money the schools receive.

If you know of any other states that have something like this? Please do comment. I recall my past Director of Human Resource at Gallaudet University had a specialty license plate that says 'Gallaudet Univ Alum'.

Monday, January 09, 2006

What An Experience.

Deaf peddlers with sign language cards is something I've heard of in my childhood days. I was naive to believe that they don't exist anymore until a few weeks ago, I've read a blog from about his experience of bumping into a MSSD graduate who was peddling in the Metro (subway) of Washington, DC.

I had my first experience with a deaf peddler last night at the Macon mall only to find out that this well dressed guy in dark blue corduray pants with tucked in off-white polo shirt wasn't deaf. He was making up signs and mostly gesturing. When I signed back to him, his eyes widen and he knew he got caught and quickly walked away from me only to bump into my wife in another store. The funny thing is that my wife is a vocational rehabilitation counselor for the deaf and she offered to help him find a job but she was also disappointed to find that he was faking his deafness.

Quickly, we made a stop at the customer service desk at the mall to report this "deaf" peddler and to be sure that they're aware that his deafness is an act. Within 15 minutes, this guy was caught and escorted off the premises. We waited a while to officially file a complaint to ensure this doesn't happen again in the future but a security officier never came to the customer service desk. Instead we received a business card of the security director of the mall's security services and we headed out for the night.

I called around lunch time today to follow up on this incident and to my pleasant surprise that this security director was a former security officier in the 70's at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC and he remarked that he still keeps in touch with Dr. Carolyn McCaskill, who is an awesome deaf studies professor that I've had. I had a nice chat with him and he said he wish he was working yesterday but he was off. He checked the security logs and he notified me that everything has been documented and the "deaf" peddler won't be allowed at the mall in the future.

As for advocacy, I will be writing an editorial piece to the city paper about my experience with a man faking his deafness to peddle sign language cards. I want general public to be on the look-out for this person and be aware that this act is offensive and degrading to the deaf community. However there may be true deaf peddlers out there and I'll let them know that money shouldn't be given to them because it promotes their behavior and there are social services out there to help them out.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Communication Disorders.

Yesterday, I've gotten an e-mail, who complained that Minnesota State University, Mankato was teaching American Sign Language (ASL) I, II, and III under the Communication Disorders department. She felt that ASL should be taught under the Foreign Language department. This appears to be also the case at other college and universities.

This was new information to me thus I googled about it. I've learned that Communication Disorders is an medical term for a disease or condition that partially or totally prevents human communication. The defect can be in producing, receiving or understanding the communication as found in Wikipedia.

In my response to this person, I told her that I feel that changing this view is really out of our hands, BUT we can have a win-win situation by contacting the chairpersons of the Communication Disorders department, Foreign Language department and the Registrar's office to set up a meeting to have them to agree to offer ASL under Communication Disorders and the Foreign Language department both in order to allow students to earn credit from this class in whichever department they choose.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

By the year 2030...

A friend of mine, Jose "Pepe" Cervantes from San Diego, California has proposed a solution for captioning in movie theaters to me. Instead of fighting the current movie theaters to provide captioning, he proposed to fight the future movie theaters that will be built. The idea is to lobby the state legislations to make it into a law that all future movie theaters must include captioning devices and variety of listening devices in thier building plans when a theater is built. Just like back in the early 1990s' when we had a law that went in effect that all television sets 13" or larger must have a captioning chip built in. Let's imagine if this law came in effect today, by the year 2030, the majority of the movie theaters out there will have captioning devices provided for us to enjoy. Pepe and I will be working together to propose this to our state legislature of California and Georgia in hopes that they'll take action on this. If you're interested in joining us in a piece of this action, please do e-mail me at sonnyjames(at)

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Toward A United America.

Shortly before Christmas, a history teacher and I discussed about America and its languages. He brought up that America should adopt the English language as its official language due to monies and quicker immersion of immigrant childrens in our schools with English. That's right, you read it here, America does not have any official recognized language.

English as America's official language isn't something I would care strongly enough to push for until few days ago, a light bulb went on in my head. If English became America's official language then we should PUSH for American Sign Language (ASL) to be America's official sign language! How about that!?! The bad news is that I've googled over the web that pushing English as America's official language has failed and failed over time...but if you're interested, here's a link you can check out.

This doesn't mean, the reality of having ASL as an official sign languge is dead. I've learned while our federal government doesn't have any official language BUT 29 states have recognized English as the official language. These 29 states presents us an opportunity to push ASL as the official sign language in those states. Georgia is one of them, I'll be checking out to see what I can do. To find the list of 29 states that recognize English as their official language, go to here.

"The one absolute certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, or preventing all possibility of its continuing to be a nation at all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities. We have but one flag. We must also learn one language and that language is English."
--Theodore Roosevelt