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Gallaudet Uses New Technology, Opening Youtube To Deaf And Hard Of Hearing

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By Sabri Ben-Achour

Gallaudet University is trying out new software from Google that will make Youtube videos more accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing.

According to Google, 23 hours of video are uploaded to Youtube every minute. Some of it is educational. Some of it is.. not.

The vastness of online video is not only a sign of how the internet is changing, but also of how that change threatens to leave certain groups behind. That's because the vast majority of content is not captioned.

"The internet used to be text, and maybe some pictures. Well now as it's becoming multimedia and video, you've got a huge impact where it becomes inaccessible again for deaf people," says Cindy King, dean of academic technology at Gallaudet University.

Gallaudet university will be part of a pilot program that Google is launching at 13 academic institutions. It will pair its speech recognition software with Youtube, so it automatically will create captions for videos. It will also create a transcript that Google will include in online searches.

"It was really amazing, another indication for what technology can do to improve quality of life for people who are deaf and hard of hearing," says Robert Davila, president of Gallaudet.

The technology isn't perfect, it makes mistakes on one out of five words. But engineers say they're working to improve it.

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