We are currently developing a new software technology – the Descriptive Video Exchange (DVX) – allowing sighted video viewers to verbally describe what they see in a movie, and seamlessly share those description clips and their synchronization information over the Internet, thus increasing widespread accessibility of video for blind and visually-impaired viewers. The DVX platform is a Client/Server model that stores all the description clips, the synchronization information, and the unique identifiers for the original video content on a dedicated server. The DVX client is a software video player that plays videos and automatically synchronizes the description clips to the video as it plays from its original source. The DVX client is also used to record the descriptive clips and automatically uploads them to the DVX server.
This innovative technology will permit wiki-style crowd-sourcing of video description in a completely new way, opening the door to amateur description provided for any video content, and distributed to anyone, anywhere. This is all possible without modifying or redistributing the original video in any way.
Based on this technology, the Miele Lab at Smith-Kettlewell is conducting a program of rigorous research to evaluate 1) the effectiveness of DVX for the recording and distribution of amateur audio description, 2) the effectiveness of automated digital tools for enhancing the presentation of amateur audio description, and 3) the effectiveness of using social networks and online communities for the recruitment and training of volunteer audio describers.
Descriptive Video Exchange (DVX)
This year’s CSUN Conference on Technology and Persons with Disabilities will take place in San Diego, California, from February 29 through March 3, 2012.
I will be delivering an exciting presentation titled “The Descriptive Video Exchange: The Technology and Implications of Crowd-Sourced Description.” This presentation will cover the technical details and cultural implications of our research using the Descriptive Video Exchange (DVX) – a simple crowd-sourcing model for the creation and distribution of amateur video description.
Topics to be covered in this one-hour presentation include
I'm looking forward to meeting many new people there, and I hope you will be one of them!
Session Location: Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel, Betsy AB, 2nd Floor
Session Time: Wednesday, February 29, 2012 - 3:10 PM PST
The DVX Client is the player/recorder part of the Descriptive Video Exchange (DVX) project. This is the application that blind viewers will use to actually play the described DVDs that will be produced by DVX. Amateur describers will use the same application to quickly and easily record their descriptions.
We didn’t want to write our own video player from scratch. That would be an enormous challenge, and there are already plenty of options that can be adapted for our use. The only problem was making the choice of which video player to start with. Some of the most important requirements for selecting the video player that will be the core technology for the DVX Client include:
· No cost to distribute
· Easy to install and use
· Easy to modify software and add new features
· Provides software method of identifying the video
· Provides software method for obtaining accurate video timing information
· Provides software method for interacting with DVD menus
Here, “software method,” means that the DVX Client needs to have a way of communicating behind the scenes with the pre-existing video player. This will allow the DVX Client to perform accessibility and description functions based on interactions with the video player.
We investigated a number of open-source video players and video frameworks. There were many excellent candidates, including Ambulant, VLC Media Player, and LiveDescribe. We evaluated each, taking into account the criteria above, as well as a number of other technical and practical considerations.
Of course, we only need to make a choice for the first prototype DVX player. The concept of DVX allows for players to be implemented in different ways and on many different platforms. For example, LiveDescribe could (and probably will) include DVX functionality, and it runs on Windows. Other DVX players may use other player infrastructure, and could run on Android, iPhone, HTML5, and so on.
Ultimately, we decided to build the first DVX client on the Microsoft media framework called DirectShow. DirectShow is already available in any modern version of Windows, and provides an extremely rich set of commands (or APIs) that allows other programs to control it and get information from it. These APIs include everything needed by the DVX Client, and much more.
Using DirectShow does mean that the first DVX Client prototype will only run on Windows, but this will be sufficient for our proof-of-concept research into the effectiveness of amateur description techniques. When the DVX Server API is ready for release, we expect to see more DVX Clients for more platforms.