Dear Vimeo, Patience Isn't An Option

Consider this post to be the last time I write about Vimeo.

January 18, 2012

Consider this post to be the last time I write about Vimeo. What's Vimeo? It's a site that is similar to YouTube. Users upload videos for all to see. However, the option to hear a video isn't always available. For the deaf community, captions on a video are crucial to gaining access to content. Vimeo has been talking about captioning functionality for at least four years. Unfortunately, talk is cheap when you can't hear.

I've written about Vimeo before. The last time, my post title was fairly provocative: "Vimeo - Still Not A Viable Web Video Solution For Higher Education." In the end, my goal wasn't necessarily to get Vimeo to add the ability for users to add captions to videos. My objective was to get those of us who embed videos into our .edu webpages to stop using Vimeo and to transition to a service that allows captions to be added to videos. By the way, YouTube has made it easy to add captions on a video.

When I read on the BostInno EDU blog, written by the amazingly prolific Lauren Landry, that Harvard's Program in General Education had "swapped their syllabi for Vimeo," I shuddered. Harvard's gen ed program created "a detailed Vimeo for each of their spring 2012 gen ed courses." That means that there are 16 "course trailers" that are inaccessible for students who cannot hear. And, the videos are amazing. The first one I watched made me want to take the course. They are that good...just not accessible for all.

I was surprised that Harvard had chosen to use captionless Vimeo in place of captionable YouTube so I posted a tweet. The response from Vimeo was less than stellar:

On Vimeo's user forums, captioning has been a subject of concern for quite some time. 11 days ago, a Vimeo staffer posted that captioning is "one of the projects we are looking into tackling in 2012." Here's my concern, we've already waited for Vimeo to add captioning functionality. Over at my personal blog, there are comments from Vimeo representatives about how they "care a great deal about closed captioning." Actions, or in this case, functions, mean more than words. Until Vimeo adds captioning capabilities to their site, higher education has an ethical/legal mandate to look elsewhere for a more accessible option.

Dear Harvard, Please lead the way, move your videos off of Vimeo. Upload them to YouTube and have them captioned. It should be noted and applauded that Portland State University has transitioned the majority of their videos away from Vimeo and on to YouTube...and most of them are now captioned!

Dear Vimeo, Higher Education is waiting.


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