10:44 AM

Enhancing accessibility


Mohawk receives $163,000 grant for accessibility project

The Broadcasting Accessibility Fund (the Fund) announced that it will award $615,330 in grants to five new, innovative projects designed to advance accessibility to broadcasting content for Canadians with disabilities.

These five new projects represent the completion of the Fund’s fourth round of grants, with a total of $2.5M over four rounds of funding committed to addressing ongoing gaps in broadcasting accessibility.

“I am very excited about these five new initiatives, which include the development and utilization of advanced technologies to enhance accessibility in broadcast content.” said Board of Directors Chair Allister Byrne. “These projects are providing the important groundwork needed to further the advancement of accessibility moving forward, and are an excellent fit with the mandate of the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund,” said, Mr. Byrne, “as they are characterized by partnerships, transparency and a broad sharing of results.”

“The Grant Committee was very pleased by the number of strong applications we received in response to our fourth call for proposals,” said the Fund’s CEO/Funding Officer Richard Cavanagh. “These projects are excellent examples of the work we wish to see in response to future calls for Letters of Intent, with many building upon previous work undertaken through grants from the Fund.”

The projects approved by the Board of Directors are:

  • CapScribe 2.0 - Mohawk College and Inclusive Media & Design Inc. - $163,029. This project aims to modernize CapScribe, a 20-year old technology originally designed to enable creators and consumers to produce video captioning that includes non-speech sounds and described video. Upgrades to CapScribe will ensure its compatibility with existing operating systems and devices and provide compatibility with alternative access systems used by captioners and describers with disabilities.
  • NER Consumer Evaluator - Project Keeble Media Inc. - $156,000 the proposed project is designed to train and certify a number of deaf and hard of hearing consumers in the evaluation of NER – a tool for measuring captioning accuracy that is widely used internationally and is the subject of recently completed work undertaken by the Captioning Consumers Advocacy Alliance (a project that received a grant from the Fund in 2016 during the second round of projects).
  • Continuing Education Course Series for Inclusive Media for Broadcast Production - Ryerson University - $119,636. This project will see the development of a continuing education course series focused on inclusive design for broadcast production, with a key focus on the instruction of re-speaking techniques for live closed captioning and audio description techniques including scripting. The course will serve as a pilot for new materials being developed at Ryerson and make use of the re-speaking/voice recognition software developed by PAVO Digital that was supported by a grant from the Fund
  • Developing Artificial Intelligence Post Processing Methods for Improving Speaker-Independent Voice Recognition - PAVO Digital Inc. - $111,375. Building upon previous speech recognition systems developed using grants from the Fund, PAVO will be using Artificial Intelligence to increase the accuracy closed captioning created by speech recognition technology; this type of post-processing approach has the potential to optimize voice recognition as a captioning method by avoiding the analysis of speech patterns and focusing instead on patterns of context in a text format, ultimately enabling the development of an AI text correction system.
  • Web DV - CRIM - $65,290. Leveraging new digital insertion technologies that have become more widely available in recent years (i.e. using video insertion technology designed for the insertion of advertising) this project will develop two “extended Web DV production approaches” following recommendations from WC3 on standards for DV on the Web. Building from existing production technologies previously developed by CRIM, these two approaches will be compared and tested with users.

“The Fund congratulates all fourth round grant recipients and is excited to work with these groundbreaking leaders in broadcasting accessibility in the coming months,” said Mr. Cavanagh. “We look forward to announcing our next Call for Letters of Intent, the first step in our application process, in February 2019.”

The Broadcasting Accessibility Fund is an independent and impartial funding body that supports innovative projects to increase the accessibility of broadcasting content in Canada. The fund was created as part of the tangible benefits package associated with Bell Canada’s acquisition of CTV. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approved its creation together with initial funding of $5.7M.

Contact: Richard Cavanagh, CEO/Funding Officer, Broadcasting Accessibility Fund, (613) 729-1891, richard@baf-far.ca