Audio Description for Higher Education
Updated: June 3, 2019
Incorporating video into higher education is extremely common. In a student research study, students reported that almost 100% of courses included some video content in both online and face-to-face environments. Meanwhile, according to the report for the 2017 National Health Interview Survey, 26.9 million Americans (10% of the population) reported having vision loss. Audio description is a crucial accommodation for these individuals, and will become more critical as the use of video continues to expand.
As the legal requirements and benefits of audio description become more widely understood, higher education will likely be at the forefront of implementing this technology. Better understanding how to meet the needs of this industry will be greatly beneficial to all.
What is important for those in higher education?
- Cost: Cost/budget is consistently rated as the top barrier to implementing accessibility tools. Audio description produced by traditional vendors is very expensive. However, the monetary consequences of failing to implement audio description have the potential to be even greater. Finding a cost-effective solution to implementing audio description is critical to those in higher education so that they can meet the needs of students and be in compliance with the law.
- Ease of use: Resource time is another major barrier to implementing accessibility tools. For this reason, it is extremely helpful to have tools that are easy to use and manage, as this will save a lot of time and headaches by ensuring a smooth and productive workflow.
- Accuracy: Content in higher education can often be complex and highly detailed. When describing in an educational setting, it is especially crucial to ensure that the correct names and terminology are being used in the proper way. Having inaccurate audio descriptions can actually do more harm than good, as students in higher education rely on this technology to study and learn.
- Accessibility compliance: Meeting accessibility requirements is a major factor in providing audio description in higher education. Audio description is required under many of the same laws requiring captions. Over the years several institutions have had lawsuits filed against them for failing to meet accessibility requirements. Complying with accessibility laws from the get-go can prevent potential legal problems down the road.
What are the common challenges in higher education?
- Publishing/workflow: Publishing audio description is a common challenge since a lot of players don’t natively support secondary audio. Additionally, people are still getting educated about audio description, making the challenges with publishing surprising, and seemingly insurmountable. This can be really discouraging!
- Budget: Many traditional audio description vendors use voice actors for audio description which can be very time consuming and costly. Traditional audio description costs anywhere between $15 to $30 per minute – significantly more than captioning and transcription. Many institutions of higher education simply don’t have the budget to pay this price for audio description.
- Complicated content: Higher education content may be complex and include difficult words, unique names, or unfamiliar concepts. In order to make sure that the audio description is beneficial both to those who need it as an accommodation, and those who benefit from it in other ways, the audio description needs to be accurate even if the content is high-level.
What vendor features are important to those in higher education?
- Integrations and publishing tools: Our audio description plugin is a simple embed that references your video and plays a secondary audio description track along with your video. Most popular video players and platforms do not support WebVTT description tracks or secondary audio tracks. This plugin alleviates the need to produce a second version of your video with audio description.
- Price: Price is a critical component of audio description. At 3Play, we combine humans and technology in the description process. This has allowed us to make the process of writing and time coding description easier, faster, and more cost-effective. We use certified human describers to write high quality descriptions, then use synthesized speech to vocalize these descriptions. This process has allowed us to offer high quality audio description for a fraction of the price.
- Accuracy and editing: High quality descriptions are necessary in order to make sure that your content is both accessible and enjoyable for your viewers. 3Play wants to ensure that you are happy with the final results. We offer cheat sheets that allow the user to specify pronunciation for tricky words or names. In addition, we offer a preview and edit feature, which allows you to edit your own descriptions in just a few clicks.
- Dedicated support: Like any service or product, youmay need support with audio description along the way. Our wonderful support team is here to answer your questions and get you on the right path, so you can sit back and relax. In addition to a dedicated support team, we have an expansive library of support documentation that you can access at any time!
- Other accessibility tools: It’s likely that if institutions are implementing audio description, they are also implementing additional accessibility tools. 3Play Media prides ourself on being a one stop shop for all video accessibility needs. Not only do we offer both standard and extended audio description to fit your unique needs, but we also provide captioning, translation, subtitling, and so much more. Having all of your accessibility needs housed under one roof will make things so much easier!
Higher Education Customers Who Use 3Play Media
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