As described on the On The Roof blog a video clip of the Fringe Frivolous Unconference is now available. The Fringe Frivolous Unconference took place on the evening of Friday 21 August 2009 on the roof terrace of the Mendeley offices. About 40-50 people attended this event, which provided an opportunity for science bloggers and other interested parties to talk about and discuss science blogging.

The video clip (which lasts for 7 minutes 47 seconds) is available on YouTube and is embedded below.

As you can see the video contains brief interviews with many of the participants who attended the unconference in which they explain why the blog or mention other topics of interest to them.

In a blog post about the event Richard Grant described how he “stalk[ed] the rooftops with a Flip camera (kindly loaned by Alom Shaha)” and subsequently “edited the clips into a short film that I think captures the essence of the evening perfectly“. And I think Richard is to be applauded for so quickly taking so many video clips and editing them to produce the short film.

But is this YouTube video accessible? Where are the captions which are needed to ensure that the resource complies with the Web Accessibility Initiative’s (WAI’s) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)? After all the WCAG 2.0 guidelines state that:

1.2.2 Captions (Prerecorded): Captions are provided for all prerecorded audio content in synchronized media, except when the media is a media alternative for text and is clearly labeled as such. (Level A)

But do the unconference organisers (unorganisers?)  have to follow these guidelines? Legislation requires organisations to take reasonable measures to ensure that people with disabilities are not discriminated against unfairly. And is it reasonable to expect a light-weight approach to recording a video of an event to require captioning? I think not – and recall a suggestion that ‘reasonable measures’ meant an addition 10-15% of effort. I suspect the time it would take to caption this video would probably be significantly greater than this.

In addition perhaps as this event wasn’t ‘official’ and the video wasn’t a deliverable of a public sector organisation, conformance with WCAG guidelines is not needed. But might there not be a moral responsibility to enhance the accessibility of this resources – after all, discussions of the ethical as well as legal aspects of blogging cropped up during the unconference as well in the opening talk at the Science Online 2009 conference the following day?

But how might one go about enhancing the accessibility of the video, in light of the limited effort to do this – and the difficulties of doing this on a sustainable basis?

One approach might be to crowd-source the captioning to share the effort. If, for example, everyone who was interviewed in the video provided a textual summary of what they said, could that be used to caption the video? I’m not sure – but I am willing to provide a summary of my contribution:

4 minutes 45 seconds: Brian Kelly introduces himself. Brian is based at UKOLN, a national centre of expertise in digital information management, located at the University of Bath. He blogs about Web and Web 2.0 issues on the UK Web Focus blog, which is available at

5 minutes 7 seconds: end of Brian Kelly’s clip.