Why Captions for Transportation

December 6, 2010 Comments Off on Why Captions for Transportation

Why Captioning in Transportation?
An excellent illustration of the sort of captioning inclusion we need in many forms of transportation – ferries, trains, buses, airplanes, cruise ships – copied with permission from this important advocacy site online by John Waldo for the WA-CAP, see the direct web address below.

Washington State Ferries, the nation’s largest ferry system, will shortly install a system to display visually the content of announcements made at its terminals and onboard its vessels. The system will be tested on board the two large boats serving the Seattle-Bainbridge Island crossing, and at the Bainbridge and Seattle terminals, for a six-month test, and if successful, will then be installed system-wide.

The ferry system makes a considerable number of announcements over public-address systems on its boats and at its terminals. While some are routine and relatively unimportant, others can be quite specific and very important, dealing with matters like lost objects, cars with lights or alarms on, vessel delays, or changes in loading or unloading procedures. Those announcements have often been inaccessible to riders with hearing loss.

Aurally delivered information can be made available to individuals with hearing loss by converting that information to written form and displaying it visually. That involves a two-step process, either of which can be problematic. First, the information has to be “captured” and put into written form. Second, the information has to be displayed in a manner visible to people who need to know what is being said.

For the ferry system, the display part was easy — there are ample places to put television monitors or other devices to show announcements. The difficult issue was the “capture” — discovering how best to put the messages in written form.

The firm with which WSF is contracting, Four Winds Interactive from Denver, is going to address that problem with a drop-down menu that will allow the crew to make the message specific without needing to do much, if any, keyboard entry. The standard boarding, welcome and safety messages will all be prepared in advance in written form. For variable messages like “car alarm,” the program will display a menu of auto makes and colors, and can indicate the deck of the ferry on which the car is located. Similarly, the “lost object” menu can specify whether the item is a wallet, cell phone, keys, or other object.

The test system should be installed on the Bainbridge boats and the Bainbridge and Seattle terminals by mid-December, according to WSF officials. The timing is particularly appropriate, because those boats are often crowded with holiday shoppers even at mid-day, and the more crowded and noisy the boats, the greater the need for the information broadcast over the public-address system to be made visually accessible to people with less than perfect hearing.

Installation of the visual paging system is being done to resolve a lawsuit that the Washington State Communication Access Project (Wash-CAP) brought against WSF in 2008. The suit was quickly resolved in the form of an agreed order signed by the court. WSF has been working promptly and diligently to implement the terms of that order, and deserves our commendation and thanks.

— The CCAC thanks John and the WA-CAP folks for permission to re-post this here, and all their good work. To learn more about the CAP model, email us or directly to WA-CAP. Go to: http://www.hearinglosslaw.com/2010/11/articles/washcap-1/washington-state-ferries/ferry-system-to-install-messagedisplay-system/

Lauren E Storck, PhD, Advocate for Accessibility Equality



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