Facebook Improves Services for People with Hearing Loss

Dr. David Dekrieklifestyle

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An exciting new update has emerged from the accessibility team at Facebook. Last month, the popular social media site announced that closed captioning will now be available on all Facebook Live streaming videos. This is a very important step in helping to ensure that Facebook is accessible globally and to as many people as possible. Adding closed captioning allows those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing access to the millions of Live videos broadcast on Facebook – as soon as they unfold.

Prior to this important update, Facebook users could add closed captions to pre-recorded videos as they were uploaded to the site, however, closed captions were not available for Live videos. This was a big problem, as Live is emerging as a larger and more popular means of communication on the site. Facebook reports that Live videos now account for about 1 in 5 Facebook videos viewed. Thanks to this important accessibility feature, those who are deaf or hard of hearing can now access news, information, and the videos that are important to them as soon as they are broadcast – Live and in living color. Or shall we say, “Live and in living captions”.

To read the announcement of the new feature through the Facebook newsroom, click here.

Facebook and Accessibility

Making Facebook accessible to as many people as possible has been imperative to Facebook since it’s development. Facebook’s accessibility team is dedicated to making sure that everyone who wants to – regardless of abilities – can fully use all features of their site. This is a big task, that takes hundreds of people working out of multiple offices throughout the world.

The efforts of the Facebook Accessibility team have definitely paid off. Only a few weeks ago on June 15th, the accessibility team was awarded the FCC Chairman’s Award for Advancements in Accessibility (AAA) for their new Alt Text technology, which give a more accurate and detailed description of picture for those who are blind or visually impaired. The award was presented at the M-Enabling Conference in Arlington, Virginia. Facebook’s accessibility team was amongst good company who also earned the prestigious award, including Amazon for it’s VoiceView Ava App that helps people who are deaf or hard of hearing and Media Inc.’s guide on best practices on described videos.

To read about all the winners and get more information on this conference, click here.

Meet Marcelo Gomez Rivera – Android Accessibility Engineer at Facebook

Marcelo Gomez Rivera is an engineer and just one of many important members of the accessibility team at Facebook. He works out of the London office and is primarily responsible for helping to ensure that Facebook and all of their features are fully accessible on Android devices.

Right now, Marcelo is working on new software that will be able to automatically detect accessibility bugs to ensure their quick correction. Right now, manual tests and user feedback helps to notify the team of issues and bugs, but these issues could be identified and thusly fixed much sooner if detected by their automatic testing infrastructure. The software will not only detect the issues, but also help developers be able to “easily visualize and understand what the problem is”.

Thanks to Marcelo and others like him, Facebook users who rely on accessibility features will soon experience fewer problems and a more seamless experience on the site.

How to Add Closed Captioning to Your Videos

If you are a Facebook user who regularly uploads videos to your site or streams Live videos, why not increase accessibility by adding captions? With captions enabled, you will be able to reach a wider audience and ensure that the deaf and hard of hearing community are not lost on what you have to share. For instructions on how to add captions to pre-recorded videos (including those that have been previously posted) click here. For instructions on how to add closed captions to Live videos, refer to this guide.

How Fidelity Hearing Centers Can Help

Like the accessibility team at Facebook, we at Fidelity Hearing Centers care deeply about your hearing and your access to the world around you. If you or a loved one have noticed changes in your hearing, or you are experiencing some of the common signs of hearing loss such as tinnitus or getting lost in group conversations – reach out to our friendly team. We look forward to helping you on your journey to better hearing.