Accessibility activities with Amara in A. Formiconi's #EDMU14 (Multimedia editing) course

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Claude Almansi

Jan 17, 2015, 11:02:12 AM1/17/15
Last November, Profesor Andreas Formiconi, of Florence University, started #EDMU14, an online course for teachers about multimedia editing. All assignment descriptions (with their discussions in participants' comments) are being gathered in

I'm following it as a "cybertourist", as I have already followed some of his former online courses: i.e. without signing up formally.

Now the first and (presently) last assignments of #EDMU14 concern multimedia accessibility and use Amara as a tool.

The first assignment was "Un podcast per iniziare Editing Multimediale – #edmu14" (A podcast to start Multimedia Editing) - For it, Andreas Formiconi asked participants to simply transcribe each, initially, 30-40 seconds of an audio podcast describing the course syllabus, using the Italian track of

However, the first participants who took up the assignment did not stop at that: they transcribed and synced the whole podcast in a very short time. So the other participants captioned other things. Among those who worked on the podcast, some had already used Amara in another of Andreas Formiconi's courses, but before the present editor was implemented, others had never captioned. There was no remark about the changed interface of the tool, and old salts and newbies made full use of the collaborative features: both the "outside" comments and the "inside" notes. And they merrily violated the official workflow, by starting to sync while transcribing was still unfinished, because it is much easier this way to find wherefrom to continue if when several people are working together on a longish audio or video.

The (presently) last assignment is described in (Let's pretend we were deaf, blind.. (accessibility matters)). The aim is to make fully accessible a video in which the University of Florence announced a conference entitled "A Physician in Hell", about medicine in Dante's time and in ours, which took place last December.

This video comprised written texts and Doré's illustrations for various Cantos of Dante's Hell, which were inaccessible to the blind, and for which one participant has started scripting a lively audio description in . Then there is the background music, "O Fortuna"  from Carl Orff's Carmina Burana, which another participant has fully captioned in  And then there is, where initially, YouTube's autocaptions had been uploaded: the idea was to fix and keep the ones corresponding to the recitation of Dante's texts. But the participant who undertook that eventually decided to also fix and keep the parts of "O Fortuna" where there was no overlap with the recitation.

That assignment is still ongoing - maybe participants will decide to actually record the scripted audio description and integrate it in the video, maybe not. But even as is now, the possibility to switch between the various subtitles raises interesting questions about multi-channel communication which could, I believe, also be discussed with students.



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