Rainbow school board removing live streams from YouTube

Board says it is waiting on a report about the feasibility of archiving past streams

SUDBURY—Rainbow District School Board (RDSB) made history this past fall when, as reported in the Manitoulin West Recorder, it announced it would be the first Northern public school board to livestream its board meetings.

RDSB first offered a live video stream of its proceedings at its January 29 regular board meeting. However, the board has elected to not permit public access to archived footage of past meetings.

“At the board meeting on February 19, 2019, trustees passed a motion requesting a report on livestreaming, including archiving,” wrote Nicole Charette, senior advisor of corporate communications with RDSB, in an email to The Expositor.

RDSB streams its meetings online through its YouTube channel. By default, YouTube Live uploads past live streams posted as public videos on the host’s channel. If the host chooses, they can check a box that tells YouTube to make those uploads unlisted—still online, but not searchable. That way, a user would need to know the exact link to the video in order to access it.

RDSB has taken this one step further—it has removed the videos from its account, so even knowing the exact link results in an error page that states the video has been removed. 

Ms. Charette stated that more information would be available after the board received its report, due in March or April.

Margaret Stringer, trustee for Manitoulin Island, shared a similar sentiment and added that cost is one factor the board has to consider in making archives available.

Ms. Charette did not respond to the question about the default upload settings, instead reserving comment until after the board receives its report.

One possible factor in publishing archive footage is that public institutions such as school boards may face additional production requirements under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).

For the basic Level A AODA standards, all pre-recorded media content requires text captions. The mid-tier AA level states a need for live captions for media, which could be contracted out to an agency that specializes in live video captioning. Other accessibility best practices include providing an outline of the topics to be discussed as well as any associated documents before the meeting, in an accessible format. Meeting participants are also encouraged to identify themselves before speaking to aid those with accessibility needs.

Board meetings typically take about two hours and, should the board decide to hire a transcription service, these typically start as low as one dollar per minute. Each two-hour meeting would cost roughly $120 and, over an average of 11 meetings per school year, would result in an estimated annual cost of $1,320. 

However, other service providers such as the Canadian Hearing Society (CHS) might charge between $130 and $150 per hour for live captioning, more than doubling the total cost. Their post-production fees are even higher at between seven and 13 dollars per minute. 

Further insight as to the possibility of archiving past live streams is expected to be discussed at an upcoming RDSB meeting, which are now available to view live over the internet.