Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Blind Justice

On the new word verification screen on the Sox' site, have you tried listening to the word? This is a service I've seen before, so blind people have a chance to buy tickets--though if they got far, maybe they're not blind after all. But I'd never actually clicked to hear the words, because I assumed it was just a robot voice saying the words you see. Boy was I wrong.

They actually play an audio clip from old radio shows. I found this out by Googling some lines I heard. A bunch of them were from a show called "Irma Meets Jane." Others were from a show featuring Frank Sinatra called the Rocky Fortune series. One time I heard part of a commercial! And they make you type in all the dialogue you hear--with a "try your best" message beforehand. Good luck.

So then I went to Ticketmaster, to see what they used for their audio. Turns out it's a track played backwards, with eight spaced-out numbers spoken eerily over it. It's very hard to decipher what's a number, let alone which number it is.

Is there reason they can't just have a voice speak one clear word for these poor people?

I also always wondered about how the verification words Ticketmaster uses are from texts, which we the ticket-buying public are supposedly transcribing to help get these texts on e-paper. But you don't even need to type apostrophes or commas, for example. So aren't the full texts coming out all screwed up? (Okay, I looked into it. Look here.)

Anyway, go mess around with visual-impaired word verification. It's fun.

"Is there reason they can't just have a voice speak one clear word for these poor people?"

My guess is that it wouldn't be that hard to design a program using live closed-captioning technology to play and transcribe a clearly spoken word.

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Location: Rhode Island, United States