Tactile Learning: Italian and US Experiences

from left to right: Claude Almansi, Frank B. Withrow and Tiziana Castorinaby Claude Almansi, Frank B. Withrow, and Tiziana Castorina

[Note: I started writing about the project of Liceo Artistico De Fabris, then I asked for feedback from Frank B. Withrow, because he has written about his experience in enabling tactile learning in “Technology Can Help Deaf-Blind Infants” and from Roberta Ranzani, with whom I have collaborated in several subtitling and educational projects. Frank sent the text about tactile books and the American Printing House for the Blind. Roberta mentioned a tactile astronomy workshop for the blind that took place in Venice. A friend of hers, Tiziana Castorina, had attended, and Roberta asked her for a description. Thanks to Tizana and Frank for allowing me to post their texts here, and to Roberta for her suggestion and for the introduction to Tiziana – CA]

Claude Almansi: Tactile books — Liceo Artistico De Fabris

On June 29, 2011,  Roberto Ellero sent me the URL of a video he made about a project by Prof. Adriana Sasso and her students at the Liceo Artistico “De Fabris” (Nove, Vicenza, Italy — liceo means secondary school): creating tactile books for blind and sight-impaired children.

From the video, it seemed that this project could be relevant to previous discussions here about project-based  learning: for example, see “Project Based vs Problem Based Learning” by Jan Schwartz (June 26, 2011), in reply to Jim Shimabukuro’s “A Quick and Dirty Look at Project-Based Learning” (May 20, 2011). So I asked Roberto if it would be alright to subtitle it in English (well, in Italian and French too). He agreed, so here goes:

(LIBRI TATTILI – Liceo Artistico di Nove (Vicenza). Uploaded by rellero, June 29, 2011. More information, in Italian, about the project: LIBRI TATTILI – Creazione di una favola tattile per bambini non vedenti e ipovedenti.)

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Copyright and Disability: WIPO Consensus Document

Claude AlmansiBy Claude Almansi
Editor, Accessibility Issues
ETCJ Associate Administrator

The ongoing – June 15 to 24, 2011 –  22nd session of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR/22) of the World International Property Organization (WIPO) is addressing, once again, the problem and removal of copyright barriers to accessing knowledge and information by people who are blind, sight-impaired or have other print disabilities.

In fact, copyright laws are national and — so far — international treaties and legal instruments have systematically aimed at globally reinforcing prohibitions, and rich countries, upholding the position of the content industry, have always opposed  globalization of copyright restrictions in favor of people with disabilities, alleging that if  they were officially globalized by WIPO, this would lead to further restrictions in favor of other groups.

A book about to fall into a rat hole, with rats watching

From David Hammerstein's “I just called to say I want to read” post about a former discussion of a WIPO Treaty for the Blind, Visually Impaired and People with Print Disabilities. Site of the IP Policy Committee of the The Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD). Sept. 25, 2010.

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‘YouTube Copyright School’ – Remixed and Mixed Up

Claude AlmansiBy Claude Almansi
Editor, Accessibility Issues
ETCJ Associate Administrator

In his lecture, “The Architecture of Access to Scientific Knowledge: Just How Badly We Have Messed This Up” (at CERN, Geneva, CH. April 18, 2011), Lawrence Lessig discussed YouTube’s new copyright school. (See 35:42 – 39:46 in the subtitled and transcribed video of his lecture.) The YouTube Copyright School video he showed and commented was uploaded by YouTube on March 24, 2011, then integrated into what looks like an  interactive tutorial, also entitled YouTube Copyright School, with a quiz on the side.

More information about this “school” was given on the YouTube Official Blog in “YouTube Copyright Education (Remixed)” (April 14, 2011):

If we receive a copyright notification for one of your videos, you’ll now be required to attend YouTube Copyright School, which involves watching a copyright tutorial and passing a quiz to show that you’ve paid attention and understood the content before uploading more content to YouTube.

YouTube has always had a policy to suspend users who have received three uncontested copyright notifications. This policy serves as a strong deterrent to copyright offenders. However, we’ve found that in some cases, a one-size-fits-all suspension rule doesn’t always lead to the right result. Consider, for example, a long-time YouTube user who received two copyright notifications four years ago but who’s uploaded thousands of legitimate videos since then without a further copyright notification. Until now, the four-year-old notifications would have stayed with the user forever despite a solid track record of good behavior, creating the risk that one new notification – possibly even a fraudulent notification – would result in the suspension of the account. We don’t think that’s reasonable. So, today we’ll begin removing copyright strikes from user’s accounts in certain limited circumstances, contingent upon the successful completion of YouTube Copyright School, as well as a solid demonstrated record of good behavior over time. Expiration of strikes is not guaranteed, and as always, YouTube may terminate an account at any time for violating our Terms of Service.

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Of Cows, Captions and Copyright: Users Need the Right to Caption and Subtitle Videos for Access and Learning

Claude AlmansiBy Claude Almansi
Editor, Accessibility Issues

Disclaimer | Digesting grass | Digesting videos | Video and text | Read-Write culture and tools | Universal Subtitles | Copyright hits the fan | Lessig’s plea | Other obstacles |Solution?

Disclaimer

Non scientists should refrain from using scientific concepts as metaphors. I am fully aware of this, and actually, when a sociologist or other humanistic scholar thus hijacks terms or phrases like “black hole,” “big bang,” “DNA,”  etc., I skip his/her text if possible.

Nevertheless, what little I understand of how the cellulase enzyme works for ruminants has been very instrumental  in my first perception of how captioning videos helps all users digest their content, and underlies what I have written here so far about captioning. Hence the decision to come out explicitly with this subjective and uninformed perception of  it.

Digesting grass

Cows can digest and assimilate the grass cellulose because they ruminate it, but not only: humans could  chew and re-chew grass for hours and hours, yet they would still excrete its cellulose whole without assimilating any because we lack  something cows have: the cellulase enzyme that chops up the molecules of cellulose into sugar types so that they can be assimilated Continue reading

‘Operation In Our Sites II’ – Out of Sight for the Blind

Claude AlmansiBy Claude Almansi
Editor, Accessibility Issues

[Note: On Cyber Monday, Operation In Our Sites II, a coordinated effort of the U.S. Justice Department’s Criminal Division, the Department of Homeland Security, and nine U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, “obtained and executed seizure orders against 82 domain names of websites engaged in the sale and distribution of counterfeit goods and illegal copyrighted works.” It specifically “targeted online retailers of a diverse array of counterfeit goods, including sports equipment, shoes, handbags, athletic apparel, sunglasses, and illegal copies of DVDs, music and software” (USDOJ). In her letter below to the Justice Department, Claude Almansi, Educational Technology and Change Journal associate administrator and editor for accessibility issues, points out that “the seizure notices added to the sites seized in ‘Operation In Our Sites II’  are surprisingly inaccessible to people who must use a screen reader because they are blind or have other print disabilities.” -js]

from: Claude Almansi <claude.almansi@gmail.com>
to: askdoj@usdoj.gov
cc: Webmaster.ICE@dhs.gov,
webmaster@usdoj.gov,
James N Shimabukuro <jamess@hawaii.edu>
date: Mon, Nov 29, 2010 at 11:29 PM
subject: Accessibility issue with the seizure notices of “Operation In Our Sites II”

I am associate administrator and editor for accessibility issues at Educational Technology and Change Journal (1) and am thinking of writing a piece on “Operation In Our Sites II”, described by Attorney General Eric Holder and ICE’s Director John Morton in their Nov. 29, 2010 press conference (2).

In view of the US government’s commitment to digital accessibility as per Section 508 of ADA, evidenced for instance in the joint letter about the accessibility of e-book readers  sent last to the presidents of US universities and colleges by the US Departments of Justice and of Education last Summer (3), the seizure notices added to the sites seized in “Operation In Our Sites II” (4) are surprisingly inaccessible to people who must use a screen reader because they are blind or have other print disabilities.

Image of text used without alternative description on the homepage of the seized sites Continue reading

‘Locked’ Ning Networks? Access, Copyright and Privacy

Claude AlmansiBy Claude Almansi
Editor, Accessibility Issues

Context

On September 14, 2010, after Ning had postponed the deadline for shutting nonpaying networks for the umpteenth time, I wrote:

I will not write another full post about Ning until the non paying groups have been deleted, or Ning gets bought by a more efficient firm, or disappears. But I’ve opened a Ning page on the wiki of ETC Journal where I shall attempt to keep track of what happens at Ning.

in a comment to my Why Unjoin Ning Networks that Won’t Pay (Aug. 28, 2010).

And now I am writing one, even though nonpaying groups have not been deleted and no one — to my knowledge — has shown any interest in buying Ning.  Motive: a discussion entitled “Deletion of Free Ning Networks?” started by Alex on September 18 in the Ning Creators network. Though it disappeared very quickly, there is a copy archived with WebCite® on the same day: http://webcitation.org/5sq785FZF.

Eric Suesz — senior community manager at Ning — participated in this discussion, stating that “All free Ning Networks are now locked and can’t be accessed.” This is simply untrue. Continue reading

Easy Captioning for UNESCO’s World Heritage Videos on YouTube

Accessibility 4 All by Claude Almansi

Skip to updates

[Editor’s note: The following message was sent by Claude Almansi to UNESCO workers on 12 June 2010 with the heading “Easy captioning for UNESCO’s World Heritage Videos on YouTube – Demo sample – copyright question.” See the following related articles by Almansi: UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Copyright Committee – 14th Session and UNESCO, World Anti-Piracy Observatory and YouTube. -JS]

Sent e-mail

Dear Workers of the “Section de la communication, de l’éducation et du partenariat (CLT/WHC/CEP)” of UNESCO’s World Heritage Center:

First, congratulations on the remarkable World Heritage video series posted by UNESCO on YouTube, with links to the relevant pages of http://whc.unesco.org. This is a great education tool.

However, I was wondering if you could not caption these videos: for most of them, you already have and offer a plain text transcript on http://whc.unesco.org. So on YouTube, for the videos in English,  it would be enough to add that transcript to the video as a .txt file, and then the YouTube software would automatically time-code this transcript to produce the captions – and an interactive transcript viewing below the video. Continue reading