Thank you for your reply. Some updates about what happened since the
beginning of this thread back in February:
Coursera staff stopped adding videos to their Amara team at the end of
February, and deleted the team at the end of March, announcing a new
internationalizing tool to come. They eventually described it in
on May 14: translated subtitles to be outsourced to a few academic
institutions, in a few languages: "Russian, Portuguese, Turkish,
Japanese, Ukrainian, Kazakh, and Arabic" (and later on, Chinese - but
e.g. no Spanish or French). These translated subtitles were meant to
be implemented by September, but they don't seem to have been.
Coursera staff still seem in denial of the need for accurate captions
in the video's language, both for deaf users and for translators. They
also planned to have the translations done via Transifex: while it's
possible to translate a subtitle file there (as well as with any
collaborative writing tool), Transifex does not offer the possibility
to check the translated subtitles in a player.
The description of Amara's services in
is now clearer: free tool, paying
creation of a team of unpaid volunteers, paying subtitling by paid
subtitlers, with more info for the latter in
Even if Coursera and Amara have now parted ways, they still have
things in common:
1) They both seem to strongly under-assess the work needed by non
professionals to subtitle a long video: up to one hour for some
Coursera lectures, ca an hour and half for most "paid subtitling"
Amara videos, where the subtitling must moreover conform to complex
Hollywood's diktats for cinema / TV . You're a pro, Alan, but for a
non pro, it's much harder to subtitle one 90-minute video than five
20-minute ones, especially if collaboration - perhaps the main feature
that made Amara's initial success when it was called Universal
subtitles - is excluded, as in the paid option.
2) For the original subs from which translations are meant to be done,
they both use a transcript produced by voice recognition with some
human editing, without announcing it. As the human brain favors what
it sees over what it hears, if subtitlers are not warned, they are
less likely to spot voice recognition mistakes. Moreover, these
transcripts are already sliced to fit Hollywood's diktat about
subtitle line length when they get uploaded, and this makes editing
them more complicated and discouraging.
So re Coursera: let them go on sabotaging subtitling on their own:
they have amply demonstrated that "internationalization" is only a
sales argument for them, but that they don't care a hoot, and less
than that for accessibility.
However re Amara, it'd be great if they'd stick by what is still
written in the website:
"Help organizations and deaf and hard of hearing viewers make videos
accessible around the world." (Home page)
"Amara gives individuals, communities, and larger organizations the
power to overcome accessibility and language barriers for online
video." (About page).
"for online videos", i.e. not according to Hollywood's byzantine
ukases concerning subtitling for cinemas and TV, with their artificial
creation of "SDH subtitling" only for deaf people who understand the
original language, line length limitation etc. that complicate the
work of non pro subtitlers.
If video producers want all the Hollywood frills, then they should
budget for pro subtitling, instead of trying to get away with their
legal subtitling obligations "for a fraction of what [they] may be
paying today (often 50% less)." (Order Subtitles page).