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← Accessibility and Inclusion in Kids TV: Interview with Sara DeWitt, PBS KIDS

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Ukazujem Revíziu 1 vytvorenú 06/14/2020 od kirstenms.

  1. - (Sara) My name is Sara Dewitt,
  2. and I am the Vice President
    of PBS Kids Digital.
  3. So I manage digital production
  4. and partnership with the producers
    of PBS Kids shows
  5. to develop their games and streaming video
    and websites.
  6. So really all digital production
    of PBSKids.org,
  7. the PBS Kids video app,
    the PBS Kids games app,
  8. and PBS Kids for Parents are all things
    that fall within my group.
  9. - Can you tell me a little how you try
  10. to make these accessible
    for children with disabilities?
  11. - We are very committed at PBS
  12. to being representative
    of as broad an audience as possible,
  13. and also then accessible
    to as wide an audience as possible.
  14. So, for us, that definitely includes
  15. children with disabilities.
  16. It also is thinking about kids
    across all socioeconomic status,
  17. trying to think about how we can be accessible
  18. to as many of America's children as possible.
  19. And so we take that very seriously
  20. and feel very strongly about it.
  21. We want kids to feel
    like they can see themselves
  22. in our shows and in our content,
  23. and that they can play unfettered
  24. with our digital content in a way
  25. that allows them to learn and grow.
  26. - Can you give me maybe a few examples
  27. of shows or games that are accessible,
  28. and the way they are accessible
  29. to different kids with disabilities?
  30. - Sure. So things like, just,
  31. our shows that you might just see
    on television,
  32. like The Cat in the Hat Knows A Lot about That
  33. and Peg + Cat, Splash and Bubbles,
  34. those are shows that have closed captioning,
  35. both on air
    and on our digital platforms
  36. but also descriptive audio
  37. and Spanish secondary audio on air.
  38. Our new show that's launching next week,
  39. Hero Elementary,
  40. will also have all of those things
    when it launches,
  41. for viewing when it shows.
  42. And so anything also, then,
    that's streaming video,
  43. the PBS Kids video app
    and the Apple TV version of that,
  44. as well as the mobile versions,
  45. will also,
    everything has closed captioning.
  46. And then, in the game area,
  47. a few examples where we've gone deeper
  48. and tried to do more extensive
    work in accessibility,
  49. I think the best example is a game
  50. developed by our member station in New York,
  52. they did a game for Cyberchase
  53. called Railway Hero,
  54. where they really were very intentional
  55. in every piece of that game
  56. to thinking about how it could be accessible
  57. to as wide a population as possible.
  58. They worked with Bridge Multimedia
  59. and built in all kinds of additional features
  60. like text resizing,
    different things for color contrast,
  61. ways to turn music off and on,
  62. anything that might cause any kind
    of sensory overload.
  63. Just lots of features for children
  64. with both physical and cognitive impairments.
  65. And through that process,
    we learned so much
  66. that we were then able to take
  67. to other games and other opportunities.
  68. So those are some quick examples.
  69. - How do you make sure
    that all these features work?
  70. Do you have a test group of kids
    you work with?
  71. - So we test all of our games.
  72. We have what we call
    a play-testing program,
  73. and we partner with many schools
  74. to go in and test with kids.
  75. Now that so many schools are closed,
  76. we are doing virtual testing.
  77. So, recruiting families and doing testing
  78. over video chat
    or by sending parents surveys.
  79. But everything we do,
  80. even when it's just at the
    paper concept level,
  81. and when it's in alpha and beta,
  82. goes in front of kids to get a sense.
  83. And so we've been really actively working
    on partnerships,
  84. where we then can be testing
  85. with kids with differing abilities.
  86. So one of the biggest ones
  87. is with Johns Hopkins IDEALS,
  88. and so we've been working
    with them quite a bit
  89. to then test with kids
    who are in that program
  90. and talk to the parents
  91. about the needs
    that they might have for content,
  92. So that we can learn from all of this
  93. and see if there are ways
  94. we can improve all of our games.
  95. - So we've talked
    about captions and descriptive audio,
  96. but I've also seen that you have
  97. some content for kids with autism,
  98. kids with learning disabilities,
    and things like that.
  99. Can you talk a little more
  100. about these kind of accessibility features
    you offer?
  101. - So I think, for kids with autism,
  102. we've been thinking a lot
    about sensory kind of things.
  103. So that thing about turning music on
  104. or being able to lower volume,
  105. that's something that we've been
  106. working on very specifically.
  107. And then certainly in games that focus
  108. on feelings and emotions
    and social-emotional content,
  109. we, you know,
    the games are produced
  110. for a wide audience,
  111. and what we then are trying to do
  112. is think about what scaffolds
    can we build in
  113. that can be helpful specifically
  114. to children on the autism spectrum.
  115. And so, in some of those places,
  116. it's not only offering the name
    of an emotion
  117. and a picture of the character
    with an emotion,
  118. but, like, we have
    a Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood app
  119. where we then allow the child
  120. to take a photo of themselves
  121. trying to show that emotion,
  122. so that you have different representations
  123. of that emotion for the child
    to see in the game.
  124. We have heard from a few producers
  125. that the eye shape and the ability
  126. of the character to express emotion
  127. has been resonating with children
    on the autism spectrum.
  128. And so we'd love to do more research
  129. about that and what that is,
  130. but we regularly receive letters
    from parents
  131. who talk about shows like Dinosaur Train
  132. and how their children are responding
  133. to elements of that show in ways
  134. that they had not responded to others.
  135. - And if we talk about diversity overall,
  136. especially representation of people,
    or children, with disabilities,
  137. can you talk a little bit about
  138. how you represent this in your shows?
  139. - So this is a really critical thing for us,
  140. and something that we feel
    very strongly about,
  141. is making sure that, as I said,
  142. kids can see representations of themselves
  143. that are positive representations,
  144. not being presented as a stereotype.
  145. So there are several shows
    that feature characters.
  146. The new show that launches next week,
    Hero Elementary,
  147. one of the principal characters,
    AJ Gadgets,
  148. he's one of the four kids
  149. who are the principals in the show,
  150. is on the autism spectrum
  151. and always has headphones around his neck
  152. so that he can tune things out
    when he needs to.
  153. We also, on Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood,
  154. Prince Wednesday's cousin, Chrissie,
    walks with braces,
  155. and there are several episodes
  156. where she and Daniel talk about
  157. the fact that she wears braces on her legs,
  158. and what are the things
    about the two of them
  159. that are the same,
    and what are the things
  160. about the two of them
    that are different.
  161. You know, she doesn't have a tail,
  162. and he has a tail.
  163. She has braces,
    and he doesn't have braces, you know?
  164. So really trying to model for kids
  165. that the knowledge we have
    that kids are gonna notice
  166. that something's different,
  167. and to model good ways
    to have those conversations
  168. about like,
    you probably really still like
  169. a lot of the same things,
  170. even though you may look different,
  171. or you may walk differently.
  172. Arthur is a show
    that has done a wonderful job
  173. of representing lots of different kids.
  174. Buster has asthma.
  175. One of the main characters
    in one episode has-
  176. There's a traumatic event
    in the neighborhood,
  177. and he suffers with anxiety.
  178. And so the episode follows him through
  179. meeting with counselors and therapists
  180. and working on ways to calm himself down
  181. when he's feeling overwhelmed and panicked.
  182. And they also have Carl,
  183. who is on the autism spectrum,
  184. and he's in like nine episodes.
  185. He's a recurring character.
  186. So there's just lots of ways that we're
  187. incorporating characters.
  188. And I should say that these aren't just
    being developed in a vacuum.
  189. it's not just a writer sitting in a room
    writing it.
  190. We have all kinds of-
  191. The producers themselves
    who create the content
  192. are often working with outside advisors
  193. and with communities
    to make sure that they're
  194. representing things accurately.
  195. But then also, through this partnership
  196. with the US Department of Education,
  197. we've been able to then provide
    additional advisors
  198. for our producers to contact and talk with
  199. when they're thinking about representing
  200. children with differing abilities.