Accessibility of video tutorials and Second Life

Through a comment by David Miller on my blog about recording videos in SL, I came to this blog with a video tutorial about how to make animations for SL. My first reaction when watching it was “Why is there no sound?” I even checked my sound settings on my computer to make sure volume wasn’t turned down. I had a strange feeling that something was missing and “craved” to hear the person making the tutorial speak to me.

Only when I read David Miller’s comment on that blog, did I realize that what I considered as lacking was actually something that made this tutorial more accessible for others like the deaf or maybe even speakers of other languages. I suddenly realized that, even though we have the tools and possibilities to make things more accessible we don’t always do it. Often this is not because we wouldn’t want to but because we are not always aware that we are settings barriers.

Coming back to video tutorials, I think ideal would be to create some that have voice and visuals (e.g. written text in the video highlighting keyboard shortcuts) and clearly visible step-by-step instructions. This way we could make them useful for more people. I can see that this is challenging because I’m sure we often mention important information in speaking in addition to what we actually show. Makes me think I should get different people to “proof-watch” my tutorials 🙂

Thinking about these issues makes me realize how wonderful environments like Second Life and other virtual worlds are for people with different abilities. In most cases you can choose whether you want to communicate in voice or in text or a combination of both. In addition to text and/or voice, you also have the visual 3D environment itself to help get across meaning. This makes it much more accessible than a 2D virtual class- or conference room, except of course, where sign language is used and it is important to see the real person via a web cam.

These are just some quick thoughts that came to my mind when watching the “silent” tutorial video. There is a lot more that one can say about accessibility and virtual worlds.

What do you think about accessibility of virtual worlds and/or tutorial material?

9 thoughts on “Accessibility of video tutorials and Second Life

  1. well subQuark (david) does vid tuts on his site and always includes a transcript with it (a little box you can open that moves along with the vid)

    on my QAvimator tut, that series (in the works) is called NaN Tuts, both as Not A Number like in programming and also as in “no audio needed”

    when i first starting isl, i worked with Deaf groups, and ironically, later became mute – so kinda hard to narrate tuts if you can’t speak! =)

    8 out of 1000 peeps in the US are mute and about 4 out of 1000 are Deaf

    did you know that there are only two US educated Deaf peeps with a doctorate degree???

    that’s kind of a sad number and we can do way better

    when voice came to sl, many Deaf protested. interestingly, voice did allow for visually impaired groups to start isl!

    back to tutorials, we often have the scripts for audio, so why don’t we include them? laziness i think. it should not take ADA 50 to make us include text, we should do it if we really think we are educators

    thanks for the nod to the video and i certainly can understand how it seems that something is missing

    keep up with second life and reaction grid ramblings by me at with some mention of eLearning and read subQuark’s blog at subbie speaks at conferences on eLearning and using virtual worlds as cheap and fast 3D video studios. i think he is doing an online forum soon to promote a conference, but he has some tuts online (with yours truly as a star!)

    yeah, we are connected and both of us do education (his new reaction grid thing will have free areas that people can come film, build, and practice

    namaste =)

    • Thanks for dropping by, Ener!

      I hadn’t realized that David’s video’s included the transcript. I’ve just watched one and saw it. That’s neat! I don’t usually script what I want to say but it’s good to know that this possibility exists. Did you know that YouTube introduced some new features where you can do something similar?

      Life takes interesting turns sometimes… I can understand that deaf people didn’t want to have voice in SL but as you say now it is more accessible for the visually impaired and it is possible to not use voice in many cases or somebody can be assigned to transcribing what is said at a conference.

      What you are saying about deaf people in the US is really sad. It’s probably the same in many other countries. My nephew has severe cerebral palsy and she fights for his and other’s right to education.

      I like David’s idea of using recordings in SL instead of 3D animation software to make lessons and lectures more interesting. I had never thought of that possibility. Often teachers and trainers cannot use SL live with their students or trainees but they could easily produce machinima themselves and use it in class. Wonderful!

      Thanks for sharing your story and thoughts!

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  3. Dear Nergiz and Ener:

    Hearing disabled (not completely deaf) people are many all over the world. The fact that it is a disability which cannot be seen, people do not notice how many people are disabled .Besides many are ashamed of it 🙁

    Using voice explanations is faster than writing and makes the explanation more vivid. But it is really a disadvantage in a lot of cases.

    I think that the combination of oral + subtitles is the best option for tutorials.

    • Thanks for sharing your thought on this, Nelba!

      Actually, it just occurred to me that SL must be a great place to teach the hearing impaired English. I have no idea how deaf people are taught languages in the physical world (Real Life). Are there special books and classes? Is that done at all? Does one need to know sign language in order to teach the hearing impaired?

  4. I feel like I am a tag team wrestler with Ener! But we both work together and are in eLearning. Yes, I have the text synchronized with the video for the flash pieces on my site. Once they go to or youtube, that is no longer functional.

    I understand that Quicktime now supports captioning but have not tried it yet. In my videos, I don’t have the transcript first, I work from an outline, but then take the 5 minutes afterward to type up what I said and then add it in.

    For eLearning practioners that may be creating 100s of minutes of video, a service to think about is Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. You can get an hour of transcription for about $5 (my experience from a year ago).

    Second Life avatars do not have enough finger dexterity to do sign language, but IBM had been working on an avatar-based translator called SiSi.

    Mechanical Turk:
    IBM SiSi video:

    • Dear David,

      I know Second Life avatars do not have enough finger dexterity to do sign language, I don´t think that will work: Avatars are too small for sign language.

      I am a partly hearing disabled person considering a coclear transplant. Due to this kind of transplants,in a near future there won´t be completely deaf people or at least there will much fewer.

      But partly hearing impaired people will still exist because in some cases coclear transplats improve the patient’s condition but not always to the best degree of hearing, so IMHO tutorials with audio + subtitles are the best option because viewers can make the effort to understand oral language and they will have the support of the written text.

      Copngrats if you had been working on an avatar-based translator called SiSi.

      Hugs from Argentina!

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