Food for Thought on Conducting Research Projects on Media Accessibility During the Covid-19 Pandemic and the New Normal
Keywords:media accesssibility projects, Deaf, hard of hearing, child users, childrens programs, Covid-19, new normal
The following practice report is based on observational experiences of a project group running a research project on accessibility during the COVID-19 pandemic. The project aimed to provide accessibility using plain language in children’s programs on a public television channel. The project included three groups of end-users: Deaf, hard of hearing, and visually impaired children. An overview of the project is presented to provide background for the practice report. The second part of the report deals with changes encountered in the running of the project during the pandemic: compensating for the lack of interactivity, social interaction and collective experience; using video conferencing; monitoring research; at-home research spaces and technological availability; network availability and performance; dealing with home computers; communication load; workload and work-life balance. Some key concepts of actor-network theory are used to analyse new actors, networks and shifts encountered in the process of implementing the project in the “new normal” in comparison to its planned implementation pre-COVID-19. In conclusion, a summary of possible options is cited to provide food for thought in running such projects.
The following practice report is based on the observations of a group running a research project on accessibility for Deaf, Hard of Hearing and blind children to children’s programs during the Covid-19 pandemic. We aimed to provide accessibility using plain language (easy to understand and easy to follow language in subtitles, through sign language and audiodescription) in children’s’ programs on a public television channel. Initially, an overview of the project is presented to provide background, then the changes encountered in the running of the project due to the pandemic are studied. Some of the issues discussed are: How to compensate for the lack of interactivity and social interaction since there was no face-to-face interaction; using video conferencing, monitoring research; at home research spaces and technology availability; issues about network availability and performance; dealing with home computers; communication load, and workload. Some key concepts of the actor-network theory (ANT) are used to explain changes. ANT is concerned with exploring how networks come into existence, looking into which relations exist, how those relations are sustained, how actors come together to constitute and maintain a network and how networks maintain impermanent stability. In conclusion, a summary of possible options is cited to provide food for thought in running such projects.