Last week, we released a new version of my Final Cut Pro X training that includes closed captions. Shortly after the release, Allan Freeman wrote, both to say thanks and take us to task:
Larry, I think it’s great that you have added captioning to your training videos, but I am a bit taken aback that you are considering this an upgrade. Your email even says that you “cleaned up a few mistakes, but this upgrade essentially adds closed captioning.” So you haven’t really upgraded the content, you’ve simply (and I realize it isn’t really simple) made it accessible to more people.
I have no need of closed captioning so am not affected by this, but if I were hearing impaired I would, on the one hand, be thrilled to have access to your training videos, and on the other hand greatly resent being asked to pay extra for it.
[ He goes on to describe the changes that he’s seen in technology of providing equal access to the deaf starting with the early days of captioning 20 years ago to all the different options available today. ]
I’m telling you this stuff to give you an idea of where I am “coming from,” which is probably not the experience of your average customer, but it does make me recoil a bit when I see someone charging extra for what could be argued is simply equal access.
Here’s my reply.
Allen, thanks for taking the time to write.
Last year, we offered a FCP X seminar at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. They had a great meeting room and a great price. While we designed our seminar for everyone, the University required us to provide 10 free seats for students and a sign language interpreter.
This was our first experience with the world of the hearing impaired and we were fascinated. Mandy David, and her company JFD Communications, provided the signing and we spent a lot of time talking with her and her husband, Tim, about what we could do to meet the needs of this market – and the market where English is a second language.
As we both quickly discovered, the problem was the scope of the project – adding captions to our Final Cut Pro X training was HUGE – 93 movies, more than 11 hours of deeply technical training. It took five months, more than 20 people and thousands of dollars to create the captions. And we were not sure whether the market would be interested.
During this time, I was reminded of the work Adobe went through with the CS5 release of Photoshop – rewriting every single line of code to support Intel processors. A MASSIVELY intensive effort that left almost no time to add new features. At release, they were hammered by their users saying, “OK, so it supports Intel. What have you done for ME?”
So, the question we are wrestling with is whether it makes sense from a commercial point of view for a small independent company to provide closed captions on their training. I grant that this should simply be considered “equal access,” but the costs and effort involved make it more complex than that.
The time and expense involved in adding captions means that we can only add it after the fact to our most popular titles. Otherwise, we would be months late in coming to market with any new training.
What we have done is add closed captions to our product so that if you purchase the training NOW, the captions are included for no extra cost. For people that want to add the captions to a product they have already purchased, they can upgrade.
That way, going forward, there is no penalty.
As always, I’m interested in your comments.
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