Video is a fantastic medium, and the means to make video have never been more accessible. Many people have video cameras, not just dedicated units, but other devices capable of taking video such as digital photo cameras and mobile phones. The software to edit video is available for free with the availability of open source packages such as Kino, and you can make your video available to the world with services such as YouTube. But what about accessibility? It's a question I've heard raised about the use of video, often because people don't realise that you can add Subtitles (also known as Closed Captioning) to the videos that you upload. If you go to the YouTube page for a video you have uploaded you will see an option on the right hand side for "Captions and Subtitles". Here you will see a screen to upload your subtitles file, you'll notice too that you can upload different sets of subtitles for different languages, very handy if you want to provide translations in foreign languages for the dialogue in your video. People might use subtitles for all sorts of reasons, the most obvious might be because they hearing difficulties, but also for many other reasons, for example, they might be learning English, and having a subtitles file might be useful to help them follow the dialogue, or they might be in a quiet environment where listening to audio is not convenient.
The instructions on YouTube for creating the subtitle files you will need give you the full format required and mentions that you will need some software or the services of an external company to create the file. Fortunately, there is a program that can create the files you need in the Ubuntu repositories, it is called Gnome Subtitles and contains everything you need. To install it you will need to install the gnome-subtitles package (and if you are using Hardy libmono-i18n2.0-cil). After you install the program you can get full instructions on how to use it from the help menu, I found it pretty intuative to use, it is a bit like editing scenes, except you just enter a bit of text for each bit of text spoken. I found it helped to do a very rough subtitling first to just transcribe what was said (as the video I was working on was unscripted) and then adjust each subtitle to get the timings right, which can be done easily using the two buttons under the timer on the left hand side. Once you are finished you should save your project in "SubViewer 2.0 (*.sub)" format. You can then upload it to YouTube. There might be a short delay while YouTube processes the file.
The next time you visit your video's YouTube page you can activate the subtitles by clicking on the button at the bottom right of the YouTube player and clicking on the pop up "CC" icon. At the moment it only works on the actual YouTube page and not in embedded players. Hopefully YouTube will update the embedded player soon to incorporate this valuable feature. A releated feature - Annotations is described as being in beta and once it is out of beta the player will be updated, so this may well be the same time as subtitles make it to the embedded players. It didn't take too long to add subtitles to the video that we made, you can see the results at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yORD3CHMx44.