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Does The O.C. stand for "Omitted Captioning"?

  • By Paul Crichton
  • 26 Oct 06, 03:11 PM

Hard on the heels of talking to Gareth Ford Williams at the BBC about accessibility features on the iPlayer coming next year, I read that Fox Interactive will be showing episodes one and two of the TV series 'The O.C.' on MySpace, the social networking website where all the cool kids hang out. There are a number of programmes up there already, including episodes from the second series of 'Prison Break' - the first series of which was a big hit on Channel Five earlier this year. A downloadable player will be required to play the episodes.

The good news, I guess, is that you don't have to register, or even login to MySpace to watch all these Fox programmes. Anyone who has accessibility requirements will know that that is something of a blessing at least. MySpace may be the success story of Web 2.0, but it hasn't made much use of Web 1.0 accessibility features on the website. And of course, utilising CAPTCHAs (you'll have seen CAPTCHAs on the web - a series of letters usually on a patterned background that you have to type into a box) makes it impossible for anyone using a screen reader to register.

As I said though, you don't have to register to watch the programmes. You do, so it would seem, have to live in the US for it to work, as all I could get it to do was cycle adverts. Adverts seem to work wherever you are located.

But I digress. It looks like a pretty basic player. I couldn't find any way to alter settings other than to choose a big screen or a small screen. There don't appear to be any controls to toggle closed captioning or audio description on or off, so I assume that isn't offered. Which seems a shame, as I know that the TV version of 'Prison Break' has closed captions. In fact, the only control I could see was a pause button. And that's because of those adverts again - you can't fast-forward the adverts.

I was left feeling a little under-whelmed by the experience. But perhaps not totally surprised. MySpace, as I suggested above, don't have a great track record regarding accessibility, so they are unlikely to have placed any such requirements on Fox when they put the player together. The Fox website isn't any better - in fact, you could make a strong argument that its worse than MySpace to get around. So I doubt that any such concerns about accessibility troubled their minds either. And the result is depressingly predictable.

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