So we've all heard about it by now: President Obama is going to be giving a speech to schools across the nation (well, some schools, anyway) that will be simulcast via cable, satellite and the web.
But even in the schools that do air it, will every student actually be able to access the information given in the speech, regardless of whether or not they can hear it? Possibly... and possibly not.
According to the Department of Education's site on the speech:
Viewers may watch the address via the Internet by visiting the White House Web site, at http://www.whitehouse.gov/... where the address will be streamed live.
C-SPAN, the cable public affairs network, will cover the president's speech live on its C-SPAN television channel and provide live streaming video online at C-SPAN.org. The speech also will be aired live on C-SPAN Radio (90.1 FM in Washington, D.C., and channel 132 on XM Satellite Radio).
White House television will make the address available via satellite for access by local broadcast outlets and school districts.
All well and good, right? Plenty of ways to access the speech; every school should be able to view it, right?
Will the address include captioning for deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers?
The live address broadcast on C-SPAN will include captioning.
So... if a school wants to present the speech in a form accessible to deaf and hard-of-hearing students, they'll have to get a cable subscription. Lovely.
The obvious solution, of course, would just be to offer the online stream in both uncaptioned and open-captioned versions, the latter fed straight from C-SPAN through a hard-wired caption decoder (yes, despite the fact that TVs have them built in nowadays, external caption decoders do still exist). In fact, although the White House is quite good about captioning online video after the fact, I don't think I've seen a live event since the inauguration broadcast online with captions, even when they're run on television networks such as C-SPAN with live captioning.
So, any deaf students at schools without access to C-SPAN will just have to wait till they get home to find out what the speech was all about... and, likely, spend the length of the speech in class bored to tears without a clue what the president's saying.
Really, we can do better than this.