News Releases

Broadcasting Accessibility Fund Approves $615,330 in Fourth Round Project Grants

Ottawa, December 3, 2018 – The Broadcasting Accessibility Fund (the Fund) announced today that it will award $615,330 in grants to five new, innovative projects designed to advance accessibility to broadcasting content for Canadians with disabilities.

These five new projects represent the completion of the Fund’s fourth round of grants, with a total of $2.5M over four rounds of funding committed to addressing ongoing gaps in broadcasting accessibility.

“I am very excited about these five new initiatives, which include the development and utilization of advanced technologies to enhance accessibility in broadcast content.” said Board of Directors Chair Allister Byrne. “These projects are providing the important groundwork needed to further the advancement of accessibility moving forward, and are an excellent fit with the mandate of the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund,” said, Mr. Byrne, “as they are characterized by partnerships, transparency and a broad sharing of results.”

“The Grant Committee was very pleased by the number of strong applications we received in response to our fourth call for proposals,” said the Fund’s CEO/Funding Officer Richard Cavanagh. “These projects are excellent examples of the work we wish to see in response to future calls for Letters of Intent, with many building upon previous work undertaken through grants from the Fund.”

The projects approved by the Board of Directors are:

  • NER Consumer Evaluator - Project Keeble Media Inc. - $156,000 the proposed project is designed to train and certify a number of deaf and hard of hearing consumers in the evaluation of NER – a tool for measuring captioning accuracy that is widely used internationally and is the subject of recently completed work undertaken by the Captioning Consumers Advocacy Alliance (a project that received a grant from the Fund in 2016 during the second round of projects).
  • Continuing Education Course Series for Inclusive Media for Broadcast Production - Ryerson University - $119,636. This project will see the development of a continuing education course series focused on inclusive design for broadcast production, with a key focus on the instruction of re-speaking techniques for live closed captioning and audio description techniques including scripting. The course will serve as a pilot for new materials being developed at Ryerson and make use of the re-speaking/voice recognition software developed by PAVO Digital that was supported by a grant from the Fund.
  • CapScribe 2.0 - Mohawk College and Inclusive Media & Design Inc. - $163,029. This project aims to modernize CapScribe, a 20-year old technology originally designed to enable creators and consumers to produce video captioning that includes non-speech sounds and described video. Upgrades to CapScribe will ensure its compatibility with existing operating systems and devices and provide compatibility with alternative access systems used by captioners and describers with disabilities.
  • Developing Artificial Intelligence Post Processing Methods for Improving Speaker-Independent Voice Recognition - PAVO Digital Inc. - $111,375. Building upon previous speech recognition systems developed using grants from the Fund, PAVO will be using Artificial Intelligence to increase the accuracy closed captioning created by speech recognition technology; this type of post-processing approach has the potential to optimize voice recognition as a captioning method by avoiding the analysis of speech patterns and focusing instead on patterns of context in a text format,  ultimately enabling the development of an AI text correction system.
  • Web DV - CRIM - $65,290. Leveraging new digital insertion technologies that have become more widely available in recent years (i.e. using video insertion technology designed for the insertion of advertising) this project will develop two “extended Web DV production approaches” following recommendations from WC3 on standards for DV on the Web. Building from existing production technologies previously developed by CRIM, these two approaches will be compared and tested with users. 

“The Fund congratulates all fourth round grant recipients and is excited to work with these groundbreaking leaders in broadcasting accessibility in the coming months,” said Mr. Cavanagh. “We look forward to announcing our next Call for Letters of Intent, the first step in our application process, in February 2019.”

 

The Broadcasting Accessibility Fund is an independent and impartial funding body that supports innovative projects to increase the accessibility of broadcasting content in Canada.  The fund was created as part of the tangible benefits package associated with Bell Canada’s acquisition of CTV.  The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approved its creation together with initial funding of $5.7M. 

Contact: Richard Cavanagh, CEO/Funding Officer, Broadcasting Accessibility Fund, (613) 729-1891, richard@baf-far.ca

 

Broadcasting Accessibility Fund Approves $624,298 in Third Round Project Grants

Ottawa, December 12, 2017 – The Broadcasting Accessibility Fund (the Fund) announced today that it will award $624,298 was committed to six new projects, as approved by the Board of Directors, to advance accessibility to broadcasting content for Canadians with disabilities.

These six innovative projects represent the completion of the Fund’s third round of grants. A total of $1.9M over three rounds of funding has been committed to addressing significant gaps in broadcasting accessibility.

“Today marks another important milestone in the Fund’s work,” said Board of Directors Chair Allister Byrne. “These outstanding initiatives fully meet our mandate and objectives, and continue to represent the types of projects we’ll be looking for in future calls for funding applications. All are characterized by partnerships, transparency and broad dissemination of results, which are key elements of the Fund’s grant program.”

“We once again received a number of strong applications,” said the Fund’s CEO/Funding Officer Richard Cavanagh. “These groundbreaking projects will build on the foundation of success created by previous first and second round projects. The talent, skill and experience in broadcasting accessibility shine through in each and every one.”

“In addition,” said, Mr. Byrne, “these projects provide stepping stones for further work in key areas of broadcasting accessibility.”

The projects approved by the Board of Directors are:

  • Integrated Described Video Instructional Series (Accessible Media Inc., AMI), $85,000 - Will develop, produce and distribute a series of instructional videos on Integrated Described Video or IDV, a method of producing inclusive media content for “seamless consumption” by consumers with vision disabilities. The integration of describing key visual elements into content production itself circumvents the barriers to DV accessibility so commonly experienced by consumers who are blind or who have low vision (i.e. IDV eliminates the need for a secondary SAP audio stream).
  • Enhanced real-time and post-production captioning for VoiceWriter captioning software (PAVO Digital Inc., formerly Mediac Systems LLC), $81,440 – PAVO’s first project for the Fund focused on updating existing software and developing new in-roads to voice recognition technologies, to improve both real time (live) and post production captioning processes. The project was successfully completed in the summer of 2017, resulting in new captioning software with advanced functionality. PAVO requested an extension and additional funding to finalize preparation of the software for the market, including de-bugging and other technical clean up together with additional functionality for consumer ease of use that is common in the software development industry. Final user testing will also be conducted.
  • Market Survey: Continuing Education Course Series for Inclusive Media for Broadcast Production (Ryerson University), $11,995 – Ryerson will apply to the Fund in the next round to develop a continuing education Course Series in inclusive media for broadcast production, with a focus on learning re-speaking techniques for live captioning and Audio Description (AD) delivery and scripting. For this round, Ryerson a market survey to identify interest among adult learners in the course, the curriculum for which would be software-neutral and include a full range of re-speaking technologies, DV/IDV and a component on accessibility for short-form video.
  • SmartTones Powered Radio App for Increased Accessibility & Enhanced Audience Engagement (Radio Ryerson Inc.), $64,655 – Will create a new model for radio app accessibility, business development and enhanced audience engagement by building new accessibility features activated by inaudible tones called SmartTones. Focusing on consumers who are blind or have vision loss, the proposed technology will enable interface with Open Broadcaster Emergency System enabling notification beyond current regulatory obligations, and will become the receiver for audible second screen interactivity that will include audible contests, special offers and promotions and other information typically inaccessible to those with vision disabilities.
  • Mapping Physical Access Solutions to Broadcast Television (Neil Squire Society), $169,208 – A project focusing on how people with mobility disabilities can use existing and emerging assistive technologies to access a range of set top boxes, remotes controls, infrared hubs and broadcaster smartphone applications. Four phases are proposed, including definition of the problem, design of procedures, observation, analysis/interpretation and a communications matrix.
  • Universal Intelligent Assistive Devices for Media Content Accessibility (Carleton University), $67,000 – Will design and develop a generic, modular class of systems called Intelligent Assistive Devices focused on improving accessibility to content for people with mobility disabilities. Technical objectives include the developing of sensing modules; a core platform interface between different input devices and media systems like Apple TV; and intelligent tuning systems to adapt to specific user needs. Designs take into account the rapid technology changes in media devices.

 “The Fund congratulates all third round grant recipients and is anxious to work with these visionary leaders in broadcasting accessibility,” said Mr. Cavanagh. “We look forward to announcing our next Call for Letters of Intent, the first step in our application process, in February 2018.”

 

The Broadcasting Accessibility Fund is an independent and impartial funding body that supports innovative projects to increase the accessibility of broadcasting content in Canada.  The fund was created as part of the tangible benefits package associated with Bell Canada’s acquisition of CTV.  The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approved its creation together with initial funding of $5.7M.

Contact: Richard Cavanagh, CEO/Funding Officer, Broadcasting Accessibility Fund, (613) 729-1891, richard@baf-far.ca

 

Broadcasting Accessibility Fund Approves $667,000 in Second Round Project Grants

Ottawa, November 29, 2016 – The Broadcasting Accessibility Fund (the Fund) today announced that it will award $667,000 in grants to six new and innovative projects designed to advance accessibility to broadcasting content for Canadians with disabilities.

These six new projects represent the completion of the Fund’s second round of grants. A total of $1.4M over two rounds of funding has been committed to addressing significant gaps in broadcasting accessibility.

“Today marks another important milestone in the Fund’s work,” said Board of Directors Chair Allister Byrne. “These six outstanding initiatives fully meet our mandate and objectives, and continue to represent the types of projects we’ll be looking for in future calls for funding applications. All are characterized by partnerships, transparency and broad dissemination of results, which are key elements of the Fund’s grant program.”

“We once again received a number of strong applications,” said the Fund’s CEO/Funding Officer Richard Cavanagh. “These six new projects will build on the foundation of success created by the seven first round projects. The talent, skill and experience in broadcasting accessibility shine through in each and every one.”

“In addition,” said, Mr. Byrne, “these projects provide stepping stones for further work in key areas of broadcasting accessibility. Future projects will continue to build on the 13 projects we have now funded.”

The projects approved by the Board of Directors are:

  • Accessible Emergency Broadcasting, Canadian Hearing Society - $135,000. CHS will research and develop practical recommendations on making emergency broadcasting accessible for Deaf and hard of hearing consumers, and develop an accessible emergency broadcasting toolkit.
  • Accessible Design for Broadcast Media – An Open Source On-line Course, Humber College, $130,900. The course, offered to all students in the School of Media Studies and Information Technology and in an open source, free on-line version, will instruct students on incorporating accessibility features such as described image and video, alt-text and screen-readers, transcription and captions into broadcast media content.
  • Continuing the National Conversation – Making CBC Radio Accessible, CBC - $61,953. Building on its success in transcribing its flagship morning program The Current, CBC will use innovative speech-to-text conversion technology to post daily transcripts of As it Happens to CBC.ca, and in addition will launch a new online media player, allowing audiences to listen while they read along.
  • Understanding Consumer Response to Live Closed Captioning in Canada – Captioning Consumers Advocacy Alliance – $141,250. CCAA will design and undertake research measuring subjective preferences for live closed captioning among different types of users. The project includes consultations with Canadian and international accessibility experts, as well as with broadcasters and captionists.
  • Filmodio Access Project, CRIM - $101,442. Development of enhanced Described Video, “Filmodio” functions in a manner similar to an audio book for broadcast content, using synthesized voice to combine audiovisual content with DV, and building from existing production technologies previously developed by CRIM.
  • Accessible Digital Media Player, Radio-Canada - $96,200. Development and optimization of multiplatform media players that will incorporate a range of accessibility features, thereby providing audiences with an accessible environment for Radio-Canada programming content.

 “The Fund congratulates all second round grant recipients and is anxious to work with these visionary leaders in broadcasting accessibility,” said Mr. Cavanagh. “We look forward to announcing our next Call for Letters of Intent, the first step in our application process, in February 2016.”

 

The Broadcasting Accessibility Fund is an independent and impartial funding body that supports innovative projects to increase the accessibility of broadcasting content in Canada.  The fund was created as part of the tangible benefits package associated with Bell Canada’s acquisition of CTV.  The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approved its creation together with initial funding of $5.7M. 

Contact: Richard Cavanagh, CEO/Funding Officer, Broadcasting Accessibility Fund, (613) 729-1891, richard@baf-far.ca

 

Broadcasting Accessibility Fund Approves $723,500 in Project Grants

Ottawa, January 26, 2016 – The Broadcasting Accessibility Fund (the Fund) today announced that it will award $723,500 in grants to seven innovative projects designed to advance accessibility to broadcasting content for Canadians with disabilities. The projects represent the first ever selected by the Board of Directors for grant awards.

 “Today marks an important milestone in the Fund’s work,” said Board of Directors Chair Allister Byrne. “These seven outstanding initiatives fully meet our mandate, by addressing significant gaps in broadcasting accessibility. They further represent the types of projects we’ll be looking for in subsequent rounds of funding, as they are characterized by partnerships, transparency and a broad sharing of results.”

“We received a number of exceptionally strong applications,” said the Fund’s CEO/Funding Officer Richard Cavanagh. “Since the inception of the Fund, there has been a strong belief that we would tap into some of the best talent, skills and experience in the field of broadcasting accessibility. The projects approved by our Board clearly demonstrate that this is the case.”

“In addition,” said, Mr. Byrne, “these projects provide stepping stones for further work in key areas of broadcasting accessibility. Future projects will be able to build on the first seven we are helping to fund. This is just the beginning.”

The projects approved by the Board of Directors are:

  • Accessible Media Production Course, Mohawk College – $80,000. Student journalists will receive mandatory, intensive training in producing content that is accessible across all media platforms.
  • Making CBC Radio Accessible, CBC - $62,000. New speech-to-text conversion technology will be used to post daily transcripts of CBC’s award-winning radio program, The Current to CBC.ca. The Current reaches some 2.3 million Canadians each week. In addition, one American Sign Language (ASL) interpreted radio documentary will be filmed and posted to CBC.ca each month. 
  • Tecla Remote, Komodo Open Lab - $77,500. A Tecla switch device will enable users with limited mobility to control a range of media devices using the same controls used to operate wheelchairs.
  • Designing Screen Reading Capabilities for the 10-foot User Interface, Rogers Communications - $140,000. Extensive research on the development of simplified and inclusive mechanisms to assist blind and low vision users to discover and consume video content.
  • Radio with a Voice, Vues et Voix - $116,000. Development of a fully accessible web platform for Vues et Voix radio content focusing on disability- and accessibility- related stories and issues in the French language.
  • Broadcasting Accessibility Education for Hard of Hearing Canadians, Canadian Hard of Hearing Association - $125,000. An extensive project to assist hard of hearing Canadians with the accessible features of media devices, designed to build a base of knowledge including the producing of a web-based guide to device accessibility.
  • Enhanced real-time and post-production captioning for VoiceWriter captioning software, Mediac Systems LLC - $123,000. Focused on updating existing software and developing new in-roads to voice recognition technologies, to improve both real time (live) and post production captioning processes.

“The Fund congratulates the first of its grant recipients and is anxious to work with these visionary leaders in broadcasting accessibility,” said Mr. Cavanagh. “We look forward to announcing our next Call for Letters of Intent, the first step in our application process, early in 2016.”

 

 

 

05/12/2014

Ottawa, May 12, 2014 – The Broadcasting Accessibility Fund (BAF) today announced the appointment of Richard Cavanagh as its first CEO/Funding Officer.

“BAF is fortunate to have Richard come to us in this role, with his unique blend of experience in both the broadcasting industry and the accessibility sector,” said BAF Board of Directors Chair Allister Byrne. “Under his leadership, the BAF will be able to fully realize its potential to advance accessibility to broadcasting content for Canadians with disabilities.”

Richard is a seasoned professional with more than 20 years... Read more