We’ve recommended a lot of online web series in this column through the years, but not all of them have been fully accessible to people with disabilities. For example, audio description of what’s happening on the screen is important for blind or low vision people, while captions are important for the d/Deaf or hard of hearing. Yet neither of those things are often found on independent web series (ie, series which aren’t made by big companies like Netflix or Hulu). While a lot of the things we’ve recced here do have captions, a lot more of them don’t have any. Many online creators either don’t think they’re necessary, don’t know how to add them, or just don’t think about them at all, leaving their fans to subtitle things for them or even put together their own collection of transcripts for other fans. Today’s web crush focuses specifically on captions for web series. Captioned Web TV spotlights web series and YouTubers who feature closed captions on all their videos.
On its Tumblr, Captioned Web TV goes into more detail about why a collection like theirs has become necessary. They explain:
Why does the Captioned Web TV blog exist? It exists because of a gap in the law. Back in 2010, a law was signed called the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, aka the 21st CVAA. The 21st CVAA required that traditional television programming shown on the Internet have closed captions. But the law did not apply to original programming made only for the Internet – not put on traditional television.
In other words, if you film some stuff with your friends and put it online, you aren’t legally obligated to subtitle it or make it accessible in any other way. That’s fine for the indie producer who may not have the time or money to dedicate to accessibility, but it has the bad side effect of leaving viewers with disabilities in the lurch, especially if something goes viral and they can’t watch it. Captioned Web TV exists to collect all of the currently captioned web series online, and they also showcase Deaf and hard of hearing creators who vlog about their own experiences. You can search by categories like “Fantasy”, “Drama”, “Cooking”, and the like, and the individual pages for the series will offer a brief description of the series as well as a description of how much of the series is captioned/if the captions are any good. You can even find some web series we’ve featured here before, like ASL Stew.
And although there’s no legal obligation for creators to subtitle their work, Captioned Web TV encourages any visiting producers to consider doing so. They have a page on the many benefits of captioning, another on how to caption your web series cheaply, and another on how volunteers can get involved with the captioning process. Be sure to check them out on their site here! You can also find them on their Tumblr, Twitter, or Facebook.