Disability Access to Rhubarb Radio
Hi rhubarb radio Community of Interest
As some of you may know, in addition to my involvement with rhubarb radio, I am a director of ‘DAISY’ (Disability Arts Inspired Social Enterprise), which aims to enable talented people with disabilities to develop as Artists with a capital A, very much in the vein of Outsider Art: though I personally don’t like this term.
Engaged generally, in disability issues; for sometime I have been thinking about the accessibility of rhubarb radio’s programming for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. From the very outset Birmingham’s leading Social Media exponents have sought to craft the rhubarb radio as a social media platform which could expand the capacity for participation and access to the culture of the city. That said, given that our primary output is audio, serving people who are deaf or hard of hearing presents us with some difficulties.
During our live audio streaming of the Hello Digital 09 event and quite rightly, a number of issues relating to disability access have been passionately raised via the blog post PeskyPeople. Some of the issues raised invited the event to consider whether it was possible to have made the audio more accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Again rightly, the point was also raised that it shouldn’t be the job of people with disabilities to organise their inclusion in events or services.
I felt sad to learn of the experiences expressed in the blog post and further so when considering the many people who are deaf or hard of hearing visit such events online. Ever the optimist, I took to thinking we at rhubarb radio could better address our difficulties in this service area, and how the creative capital of rhubarb radio could possibly meet this problem head on.
Obviously, I can offer to the event organisers the facility to apply a voice to text treatment to the audio archive for the event and then apply that to the website
Beyond this, I believe, requires a far more creative response. I recently returned from an UrbanLab conference organised by Citilab in Barcelona, in which motivated digital creative’s from every discipline came together in a spirit of fun, curiosity and creative endeavour, to apply their collaborative knowledge, skills and experiences to a problem expressed from within the community that required a digital technological solution.
The intention was not necessary to arrive at a complete solution but rather to advance the solution. With no expected commitment beyond the time frame of the event, first the problem was fully explored and clarified, it was then divided up into relevant solution areas and again relevant creative’s applied themselves to working together for creative digital solutions to the problems that presented. The event was a real delight, engaging, refreshing, enlightening etc.
I am wondering whether there might be interest and motivation out there among our creative and academic communities to attend a rhubarb hosted CreativeLab event; aimed to better enable people who are deaf or heard of hearing to have access to live audio such as radio. There seems to be a fare amount of research, initiatives and innovative approaches out there along with some unresolved software.
Let me know what you think. If members are happy I shall progress the idea with who ever comes forward.
It strikes me, if we could get a decent audio to text translation all manor of things become possible: live text from live audio facility can be switched on and off; Text can reasonably be translated in to the full range of community languages and community language text could easily be re-streamed as text to digital audio; Text to Braille also becomes possible for those who might need it.
Some of you will know that rhubarb radio is currently exploring the possibilities of enabling people to create tags within our listen again audio streams. An audio to text facility could offer us additional benefits in this area by better enabling us to create jump points or auto tags within our streams. The list of benefits to our all round service would be many, and obviously there are much wider applications beyond the rhubarb project.
It may be that at this point in the development of digital technology it’s just not possible, but if all that is achieved through a CreativeLab event, around the issue of disability access to audio, is that we advance towards a solution by one more millimetre it will be worthwhile.