Streaming Video Accessibility Standards >> Advent Policy Brief #16

My sixteenth Advent Policy Brief stems from two video streaming pet peeves. First, the volume range of video streaming is insane. Second, audio-subtitle continuity should have to meet minimum accuracy standards.

How many times have you jumped to turn the volume down when stuff starts exploding only to need to turn it back up to hear the intense dialogue scene that abruptly follows? Or perhaps you are haunted by exceptionally loud commercials perforating you programming. It's infuriating. 

Equally terrible: when the subtitles don't match the audio track.

I'm a subtitle superfan. It started in grad school when I realized having subtitles meets the criteria for my ideal work environment: something mindless but moving in the background and whatever I need for get-shit-done-mode in front of me. Without subtitles, I feel compelled to pay attention to background video and my attention/productivity skews.

If the spoken words don't match the subtitle text, I can't enjoy. It's a sensory 'do not compute' situation, and I will always choose another option. 

So like, I'm never going to see Squid Game because the subtitles are so off. I understand the phenomenon stems from it being cheaper to translate the original subtitles than transcribe an audio dub. I've noticed this trend with Canadian EN/FR animation subtitling that clearly uses translated text instead of transcribed audio.

Broadcast entities are beholden to the Canadian Human Rights Act; their provision of accessible services is required. Consistent volume and audio-subtitle continuity are obviously (dis)ability issues, but the latter also intersects with xenophobia and official bilingualism. Audio-subtitle disparity is particularly prevalent in French and international media, and the disparity is disproportionately problematic for learners of English.

The CRTC already has regulations to cap the volume of commercials on TV, but the regulations have not caught up to cord cutting.