Disabled Association Pros & Accessibility Allies

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Digital accessibility: Accurate and equitable access - this includes captions. Today's jaw dropping questions to me from an accessibility consultant about AI captions.

  • 1.  Digital accessibility: Accurate and equitable access - this includes captions. Today's jaw dropping questions to me from an accessibility consultant about AI captions.

    Posted Mar 07, 2024 07:25 PM
    Edited by Samantha Evans, ICE-CCP, CAE Mar 08, 2024 06:56 AM

    It takes significant time to learn about the breadth of disabilities and the barriers disabled people face and the assistive technologies and adaptive strategies people use to get around the barriers in the world and the barriers their work, personal, education, and social worlds present.

    This is not about the long arm of the law and litigation. But good grief, how many years do disabled people have to ask, grovel, plead, explain, and hope that maybe they might have a chance to live, learn, work, in their community of choice?

    This is about first understanding disabled people and the barriers they face so that you can then better understand what and how to deliver equitable experiences. That's it!

    Accessibility, at it's core, means providing equitable access. 

    • Not so so access.
    • Not it will have to do access.
    • Not well we gave them something, isn't that enough access.(this is actually in court transcripts about captioning lawsuits)


    Progress over perfection. Every organization starts somewhere. 

    • Not every organization has funds for more advanced accessibility - here's where the rubber meets the road for associations.
    • Nothing about us without us - that means the disabled people directly affected by your products, services, and vendors should be where you START. Then due diligence about laws and regulations. And ensuring no harm is done.
    • How do you know the difference? 
    • By starting with qualified disabled people OR qualified disability advocates OR qualified accessibility professionals for your advice.
    • We are required by LAW to provide equitable access if your organization receives even $1 in federal funds in ANY fashion.

    You/me/we/our organizations are required by different parts of ADA to provide equitable access in anything that is legal, medical, or educational. That means most everything associations produce and deliver.

    If you are JUST starting, start with basics, and for your upcoming content and programs, move forward by design, with intention, and with a plan.

    • If you have hired an accessibility consultant for your events, you have money for accessibility.
    • Not all accessibility consultants have education and understanding about even the most common disabilities.
      • I'll repeat that so that what follows makes more sense.
        • Not all accessibility consultants have education and understanding about even the most common disabilities.


    Today's topic, a person I've been trying to coach accessibility for four years sent me an email about the advice they gave to one of their clients. 

    The consultant suggested their client, whose content is medical in nature, and legal by association to medical information, to use Wordly for their conference. There's a long-tail for this one.

    What 3 elements require accuracy in captions?

    • Legal
    • Medical
    • Any professional education the guides how anyone must perform their work where mistakes would cause harm 

    Do any of those sound like some of our work?

    I cannot attend ASAE Annual because instead of providing accurate and usable captions, they have opted to promote and utilize Wordly, an AI service that delivers captions and also translates those to other languages. Even though the ASAE DEI and Events policy states they will provide reasonable accommodations, it is not for DHH people that need accurate and usable captions.

    The last time I paid and went they promised accurate and usable captions, and it was so bad that the chat in the app lit up with horrified people. Those of us who could look backwards and read the text on the teleprompter could understand - but the AI captions in the main sessions were so bad that the singer's lyrics were borderline offensive.

    I asked last year and noone ever got back to me. There were no accurate and usable captions, it was Wordly.


    I am not privy to ASAE's contract terms, but my guess is they get it for free for marketing to all of you.
    Yeah that's the marketing model for a lot of AI services... get the big head organization on for free, they'll show all their member organizations your tool.  


    Equitable access for DHH at Association Annual Conferences: The SHRM Case Law

    I encourage anyone that has annual meetings or conferences to read the (now three years old) case law outcome of the SHRM case.

    Yes SHRM - yes the HR professional association refused to offer equitable access in the form of accurate and usable captions and ASL to their members on request. So Disablity Rights Advocates sued on behalf of several members. The Deafies won by the way, because the law requires equitable access.

    "Although SHRM offers training about how HR professionals can help their companies comply with disability law and provide accommodations to employees, it fails to provide consistent, reliable accommodations to Deaf professionals to access its own services, subjecting them instead to a different and worse experience than hearing people."

    There are actual laws on the books in the US and in the EU that are CRYSTAL CLEAR about accurate and usable captions. There's really no question other then when do you build it into your budget.

    • Any accessibility consultant that does NOT MAKE THIS CLEAR is doing you a disservice.
    • Any vendor that isn't crystal clear in what they are AND ARE NOT is practicing deceptive marketing and if they claim they're "as good" that is false advertising.
      • Those vendors usually aren't actually in the captioning business, their VC funding is about deploying an AI tool that they can charge money for, not the same thing.

    In the last 30 days Wordly has made some pretty egregious claims that were so BAD that the Deaf community made calls to the FTC for false advertising and to their elected officials. Culminating in the head of accessibility at Microsoft leading a charge to force them to remove the worst of what they put out. They still haven't corrected their actual marketing.

    https://www.linkedin.com/posts/tobygwong_falseclaims-cart-captions-activity-7163256686466576385-GOle?utm_source=share&utm_medium=member_desktop

    https://www.linkedin.com/posts/fitchtoby_sign-language-translation-powered-by-wordly-activity-7163509702096580609-Lip6?utm_source=share&utm_medium=member_desktop

    • First Wordly made the claim that their AI Captions delivered CART - to the level of detail of saying they are the SAME THING.
    • Then Wordly made claims about all the problems with CART, none of which are true - other than there is a cost.
    • And Wordly mislead claiming CART captions only come in one language.
      • Simply not true, accurate CART captions produce MORE accurate AI translations.
      • Multiple language translation alongside the CART is available from EVERY good captioning agency.
        • CART requires a highly trained court reporter that is trained to understand the needs of DHH people
          • High levels of accuracy
          • The ability to ensure the content is displayed within 2-3 seconds
          • Speaker names are presented for all spoken words
          • Ensuring that sounds and moods are relayed
    • Then Wordly claimed that AI captions are an equivalent substitute for ASL.
      • Don't be that person that asks this.
      • If you have an accessibility consultant that suggests this - you may want to re-evaluate what their specialization is.

    Just because ASAE contracts with Wordly doesn't mean you need to model it in your own disability inclusion work.

    So this accessibility consultant asked me, again, after three years, what I meant 

    • Please give me more insight into the inaccuracy of AI in captions in videos and in Wordly.
    • Why is Wordly not a substitute for CART or ASL? How is Wordly doing a disservice to DHH people?  

    So I explained the following - which we covered with them years ago:

    • AI captions and vendors that ONLY produce AI captions - are not accurate and equitable captions for DHH people.
    • AI captions are not now nor will they ever be ANYTHING remotely resembling a "substitute" for ASL. (if you are not having a moment of disbelief, you should)
    • AI captions are not now nor will they be a substitute for CART captions (until AI makes another massive leap forward, but it's not in current day)
    • AI captioning companies that mislead the public and their customers by making such claims are knowingly deceiving the public to the harm and disservice of DHH people for the sole intention of profit.
      • That harm comes by (see that note above from DRA) "subjecting them instead to a different and worse experience than hearing people." 

    I've provided insights and details about what accurate and usable captions are and are not. --see the Captioning Key in our Library.
    There are legal guidelines from the US Government about effective communications - from 2014 and updated in 2020.

    • For people who are deaf, have hearing loss, or are deaf-blind, this includes providing a qualified notetaker; a qualified sign language interpreter, oral interpreter, cued-speech interpreter, or tactile interpreter; real-time captioning; written materials; or a printed script of a stock speech (such as given on a museum or historic house tour). A "qualified" interpreter means someone who is able to interpret effectively, accurately, and impartially, both receptively (i.e., understanding what the person with the disability is saying) and expressively (i.e., having the skill needed to convey information back to that person) using any necessary specialized vocabulary.
    • Businesses and nonprofits: in determining whether a particular aid or service would result in an undue burden, a title III entity should take into consideration the nature and cost of the aid or service relative to their size, overall financial resources, and overall expenses. In general, a business or nonprofit with greater resources is expected to do more to ensure effective communication than one with fewer resources. If the entity has a parent company, the administrative and financial relationship, as well as the size, resources, and expenses of the parent company, would also be considered.
    • Covered entities may have established good policies, but if front line staff are not aware of them or do not know how to implement them, problems can arise. Covered entities should teach staff about the ADA's requirements for communicating effectively with people who have communication disabilities. 

    If you haven't yet, please start to understand the needs of DHH people and how to start towards plans for providing equitable and accurate engagements.

    And as with any consulting, not all accessibility consultants are created equal. And there are many who are not trained/educated to give you valid and disability informed advice.
    ------------------------------
    Samantha Evans, CAE, ICE-CCP, MBA (she/her)
    The Accessible CAE
    sam.evans@accessibilityassociation.org
    Certification Director
    Intl. Assoc. of Accessibility Professionals, a division of G3ict
    ------------------------------

    CAE Prep Course


  • 2.  RE: Digital accessibility: Accurate and equitable access - this includes captions. Today's jaw dropping questions to me from an accessibility consultant about AI captions.

    Posted Mar 08, 2024 01:24 PM

    I read this early the morning of March 8, and had tears of gratitude - "nothing about us without us." 

    Too many groups, for their meetings, are willing to accept "ADA Compliant" from venues and vendors. Having the detailed knowledge you have, @Samantha Evans, ICE-CCP, CAE, and are willing to share, gives us all the ability to say "I don't know; tell me more" and to move accessibility.

    I hope you will cross-post this to the M&E group where I'll be happy to endorse the learning and recommendation that my colleagues in meetings and events take a different look at, and have discussions with others in their associations or their clients, about. "It's too expensive" is what is often said about providing access along with "why is it needed for more than sessions?" is another not remembering that one of the key reasons people attend meetings is to network and to do so requires the ability to communicate effectively. 


    We can all do more and better. We can ask key questions and say out loud "tell me more; I'm not knowledgeable about this" on all areas of access if we do so with appropriate, knowledgeable consultants.

    Thank you. 
    Joan



    ------------------------------
    Joan Eisenstodt
    Principal
    Eisenstodt Associates LLC
    Washington DC
    (202) 737-7890 x202
    ------------------------------

    CAE Prep Course


  • 3.  RE: Digital accessibility: Accurate and equitable access - this includes captions. Today's jaw dropping questions to me from an accessibility consultant about AI captions.

    Posted Mar 08, 2024 02:39 PM

    I posted to Meetings & Events and Technology - since so many people implement captions remotely. Thank you for qualifying it in M&E. 
    I had just posted a clarification about "accurate" to an M&E post.

    Accurate, often like "close enough for horseshoes, hand grenades, and government work."



    ------------------------------
    Samantha Evans, CAE, ICE-CCP, MBA (she/her)
    The Accessible CAE
    sam.evans@accessibilityassociation.org
    Certification Director
    Intl. Assoc. of Accessibility Professionals, a division of G3ict
    ------------------------------

    CAE Prep Course