I am quoted in an article in the 2006.06.05 issue of Canadian Communications Reports, one of those expensive industry newsletters (full title: Decima‘s Canadian Communications Reports, with opening single quotation mark instead of apostrophe). The topic is a private member’s bill stating, bluntly, “Each broadcasting undertaking shall broadcast its video programming with closed captions.”

That means closed captions, not open captions. And it means closed captions on everything, even programming that cannot be captioned (because it’s in a language that uses a non-Latin script that cannot be romanized, like Chinese), even silent movies, even sign-language programming. Obviously this ain’t gonna work.

Plus the bill proposes tax breaks to pay for captioning. I was under the impression that accessibility was a legal requirement and not something we deign to include if a government passes a law saying we can tax-deduct it.

Anyway, some relevant quotes from the article (“Closed-captioning bill flawed, accessibility advocates say”):

But Joe Clark, a Toronto-based accessibility consultant, says St. Hilaire’s proposal falls short of the mark in ensuring equal access for all with disabilities. “I’m really tired of everyone putting deaf people’s needs first. Deaf people are not more important than blind people, neither is more important than the other, and neither is more important than nondisabled people,” he says…. Clark points out that anything short of total equal access for the hearing-and visually impaired contravenes Section 15 of the Constitution Act (1982), which guarantees equal consideration under the law for all. At the current 90% quota, he adds, broadcasters could get away with airing more than a month of inaccessible programming every year. “Ten percent of that [year] is 36½ days. So if you wanted to, you could spend the whole month of December with no captioning”….

Clark says he’s documented numerous instances where the CBC has failed to live up to their commitments to total captioning…. [N]ot only does the CBC occasionally broadcast such content without captions, it also broadcasts subtitled programming without captions as well, perhaps believing that subtitles and captioning are synonymous…. “Section 15 of the Constitution [and] all the established human rights law for decades says it is a responsibility to provide accessibility. It is not an optional feel-good thing.”

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2006.06.13 16:19. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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