I 100% agree. Just for clarity, by requester in my previous email, I meant a person requesting accommodations for the video and not the original persons pushing for the digital collection. 

The fact is that accessibility remediation is a translation, and different types of remediation can result in information loss just like other translations. Captioning may make the spoken words accessible but may not capture the intonations and other nuances of the dialogue. Transcribing a handwritten letter into electronic text may skip over edit marks and other aspects of handwriting that a researcher may be interested in. Heck, translating handwriting is rarely obvious and can be quite debated.

This is why I view special collections and what libraries call archives to be in a different vein than other aspects of accessibility remediation. Making a journal article PDF accessible is mostly about proper markup and reading order (although exceptions and complexities do exist). The main goal is for anyone to be able to read it. But for someone diving into a special collection or archive, their inquiry is different. I've seen historians go on and on about edit marks in letters and marginal notes in books. Each scholar in such works have nuanced inquiries with elements they wish to focus on. To me, making the content accessible to them is about also understanding what they want to access. Most of the time, we think of accessibility as addressing the intersection (dis)ability issues with the content format. However, sometimes we need to add in the further complexity of an individual's actual goals. Personalized accommodations are likely needed.

This is the argument I give for our special collections/archives group. Do what is feasible now with current technology and then have a means for providing one-on-one accommodation services. 

Katherine Deibel | PhD
Inclusion & Accessibility Librarian
Syracuse University Libraries 
T 315.443.7178
[log in to unmask]
222 Waverly Ave., Syracuse, NY 13244
Syracuse University

-----Original Message-----
From: Code for Libraries <[log in to unmask]> On Behalf Of Tim McGeary
Sent: Wednesday, February 13, 2019 3:45 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [CODE4LIB] [EXT] Re: [CODE4LIB] A/V and accessibility

This is why defining the policy of access is critical. If these digitized collections are intended to be published for the entire public, the needs of the (original) requester is not sufficient; the federal mandates require full accessibility as best to your ability without undue burden.

If you aren’t making these available for the entire public, and your policies are well documented about that restriction and the request process, then you have more flexibility to balance the burden of making a collection accessible based on the needs of the specific user.


Tim McGeary
Associate University Librarian for Digital Strategies and Technology Duke University

On Wed, Feb 13, 2019 at 3:37 PM Kate Deibel <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> While this is true in the general case, we're again talking about 
> Special Collections and the needs of the requester. Audio descriptions 
> are extremely difficult to do as the ideal is to never interrupt other 
> relevant sounds in the media, especially dialogue. That's a unique 
> challenge of being precise and fast. My recommendation would be to 
> make audio descriptions available upon request just as with more quality captioning.
> There is currently no means of automating audio descriptions even of 
> low quality. AI tools just aren't there yet, and frankly, I'm a little 
> scared of the idea of a world where AI can view a random scene and 
> describe what is happening.
> Katherine Deibel | PhD
> Inclusion & Accessibility Librarian
> Syracuse University Libraries
> T 315.443.7178
> [log in to unmask]
> 222 Waverly Ave., Syracuse, NY 13244
> Syracuse University