Microsoft Announces New Captioning Technology To Make Multimedia More Accessible

REDMOND, Wash., June 16, 1997 — Microsoft Corp. today announced the development of a new technology that will enable anyone who creates multimedia software titles and Web pages to provide closed captioning for users who are deaf or hard of hearing. The new Microsoft® Synchronized Accessible Media Interchange (SAMI) format is scheduled to be available at the end of this year.

Microsoft announced the development of SAMI at a meeting of the nation’s largest consumer organization for the deaf and hard of hearing, Self Help for Hard of Hearing People Inc. (SHHH), in Phoenix. At the meeting, Microsoft was awarded the 1997 SHHH National Award for Access for its pioneering work in making software more accessible.

“This new technology is a big part of Microsoft’s effort to expand access to the wealth of multimedia content available today,”
said Brad Silverberg, senior vice president in the applications and Internet client group at Microsoft.
“SAMI will make it easier for creators of multimedia titles and Web pages to author captioning for users who are hard of hearing, regardless of browser choice or media type.”

The SAMI technology creates a captioning file that is time-synchronized to a multimedia source file (audio, video or animation). The source file is played through Microsoft’s DirectShow media player on the Windows® 95 or Windows NT® operating systems. It then synchronizes the captioning to the source file, providing closed captioning.

SAMI will simplify captioning for developers and help expand access for end users. In the past, captioning technologies required developers to encode the captioning content within the media file itself, adding unnecessary work. SAMI synchronizes the caption content with the media, using standard generalized markup language (SGML) and HTML so that it is easy to create a caption file. This will allow developers to easily add captioning content to multimedia titles and Web sites. In addition, SAMI captioning files are text files, so they can be read by any operating system.

SAMI is the latest announcement reflecting Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to building and enabling software for people with disabilities. Microsoft’s strategy consists of four elements:

  • Making it easier for third-party vendors to create accessibility aids (such as utilities that allow access for the blind and voice input). Microsoft documents the techniques vendors need to use, and the new Microsoft Active Accessibility
    tools will decrease their use of unsupported techniques. Released in May, Active Accessibility is a suite of tools that makes it easier for software application developers to create more accessible products.

  • Making it easier to make mainstream software accessible by publishing guidelines for software and Web accessibility, and by creating Active Accessibility to let vendors innovate in their user interface without sacrificing accessibility. Microsoft is also creating testing tools to identify accessibility problems.

  • Promoting accessibility through articles and presentations, and by adding accessibility criteria to the Designed for Windows NT and Windows 95 Logo program. Today, these criteria are mostly recommendations, but vendors are warned that they will become requirements over time. Microsoft is also improving its development and authoring platforms to promote accessible design and Active Accessibility.

  • Making Microsoft products and services more accessible. This includes standard usability issues, such as supporting keyboard usage and different appearance schemes, and accessibility-specific features, such as closed captions and compatibility with accessibility utilities.

Details on Active Accessibility and on all Microsoft accessibility initiatives are available at . Information on Making Multimedia Accessible can be found on

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

Microsoft, Windows, Windows NT and Active Accessibility are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

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