5 Universities Doing Captioning Right
Updated: February 23, 2021
Video has transformed the way institutions of higher education approach teaching.
As a flexible, customizable, and creative platform, video has paved the way for greater access to education around the world.
And many prominent institutions of higher education are taking note of its power to educate individuals beyond the traditional classroom setting.
Many institutions offer free lecture videos on YouTube and on their websites, some have even implemented online courses and online degrees.
Video + captioning = greater access
Approximately 15% of Americans over 18 years of age report having some degree of hearing loss.
In the realm of accessibility, the combination of video and captioning gives deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals greater access to an array of courses, providing a flexible and cost effective solution for universities to help create greater access.
Still, many universities continue to upload videos that are not captioned, hindering the process of providing equal opportunities in education.
Why captions helps all kinds of students
Captions benefit all students, not just deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals.
In a nationwide research study where students were surveyed to see how and why they were using captions, 98.6% of students reported that they found captions helpful. In addition, 75% of all students who use captions, not just deaf and hard of hearing, use captions as a learning aid.
And the number one reason for why students are using captions was to help students focus on the video content.
What captioning laws apply to higher education?
Many institutions of higher education are also required by law to caption their content.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 was created to ensure equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities. Institutions of higher education are bound by this law under Title II and Title III of the ADA. Title II relates to public entities such as public meeting halls, airports, and even corporate entities. Title III relates to places of public accommodations and can even affect private entities such as private universities and private schools.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act is an anti-discrimination law that requires equal access for individuals with disabilities. Section 504 is often cited alongside the ADA in disability lawsuits. Section 504 covers federally funded programs and is often extended to colleges and universities. Often, if an educational institution violates Section 504, it can lead to an audit by the Office for Civil Rights.
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act states that all federal electronic and information technology must be accessible to people with disabilities. While this law is specific to the federal government, and not federally funded programs, it is often extended to colleges and universities through state laws and the Assistive Technology Act.
5 Universities Doing Captioning Right
The following universities are setting examples for captioning in higher education. Each university has implemented a unique solution to help solve common problems such as budgeting, education, and support.
1. The University of Washington
The University of Washington’s (UW) commitment to captioning is one to be admired. Taking lessons from past Department of Justice lawsuits against other institutions of higher education, UW created a comprehensive, proactive, and innovative strategy for captioning.
UW’s accessibility policy is a testament to their commitment to honor the school’s diversity and everyone’s right to full and equal access to UW.
To prioritize videos for captioning, UW uses YouTube data. They look at the data on the number of videos, the number of hours of videos, and the traffic related to the video. They then use that data to prioritize their captioning efforts.
They also provide training and education for staff, focusing their efforts on the key stakeholders such as the content creators.
UW’s practical approach to accessibility demonstrates that implementing a strategy for accessibility doesn’t have to be a daunting, resource-absorbing initiative. Instead, accessibility can be taken in small, feasible steps, beginning taking that initial commitment.
You can learn more about UW’s strategy in this webinar, or register for the upcoming free webinar with UW, “Video Accessibility at the University of Washington.”
2. George Mason
When it comes to captioning for higher education, George Mason (GM) has created a seamless and free approach for faculty to take advantage of.
GM outsources all their captioning to third-party vendors, whom they’ve established multiple contracts with. Based on the turnaround time cost versus subject matter, they make a decision on which vendor to choose.
To help streamline the process of captioning, the university has also implemented Kaltura.
The funds for captioning come from a captioning proposal and any additional funds are obtained from the university’s overall funds.
Finding money for captioning is usually a roadblock for many institutions, but it’s not an impossible roadblock to overcome. To learn more about George Mason’s workflow for captioning, watch the webinar, “Advanced Workflows for Closed Captioning.”
3. Penn State
With over 96,000 undergraduate students, Penn State is a massive university with a very diverse student body and educational curriculum, including a vibrant e-learning institute.
For this reason, Penn State developed a stringently comprehensive accessibility policy that applies WCAG 2.0 Level AA standards to all university courses.
As part of their proactive approach, Penn State began by making all website accessible and educating faculty on the importance of accessibility.
In addition, they created a more streamlined captioning workflow by implementing API’s to help faculty get videos captioned faster. Instead of requiring faculty members to go through multiple steps of downloading and uploading videos and caption files, faculty members simply have to tag a video they want to be captioned.
The most crucial part of the Penn State solution is that the university is giving students options. They can choose to view videos with captions, download transcripts, get accessible PDF’s etc. Ultimately, the university sees this as giving students the tools they need to learn because not everyone learns the same or requires the same materials.
To learn more about the Penn State solution, watch “Video Captioning for Accessibility – The Penn State Solutions.”
4. The University of Arizona
As part of their strong desire to be proactive in their accessibility responsibilities, captioning initiatives have increasingly become a priority at the University of Arizona.
The movement for captioning grew out of an IT accessibility initiative to inform all departments about captioning. Once the conversation was started, they found that faculty and students were interested.
The university uses a hybrid approach to captioning, which has helped save a lot of money. Short, 4-minute long videos are captioned by an in-house staff of student workers. Longer videos are handed off to third-party vendors.
The funding for captioning comes out of an institutional budget set by Arizona’s Disability Resource Center. Instead of captioning all videos, the university prioritizes videos that go out to the public and student requested videos. This strategy has allowed the university to avoid captioning lectures that a student won’t listen to again or have already attended.
To learn more about Arizona’s unique strategy watch the webinar, “Strategic Campus Collaborations: Advancing Knowledge About Accessibility at the University of Arizona.”
5. North Carolina State University
In 1999, NC State entered into a voluntary resolution resulting from three complaints filed by the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR). As a result, NC State created a campus-wide IT accessibility policy to give all students equal access to the technologies around campus.
15 years later, the university is still going strong with their accessibility initiatives and have successfully established a unique and efficient process for captioning.
To aid in their captioning efforts, NC State adopted a fund that is financed through student tuition fees. The fund brings around $60,000 a year for captioning.
Through this fund, the university has been able to caption all student requested materials, as well as begin working on a more proactive strategy for captioning other material.
For an inside look into NC State’s accessibility plan watch the webinar, “15 Years After An OCR Suit: NC State’s Accessibility Refresh.”
Get started with captioning today!
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