Challenges of Managing Real Time Captioning Accommodation Requests in Higher Ed

May 2, 2023 BY ABBY ALEPA
Updated: October 12, 2023

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Real-time captioning is a great way to create a more inclusive learning environment for students. The rapid advancement of technology and growing demand for accessibility has positioned live captioning as an effective solution for ensuring that students have equal access to educational content.

The use of captions for educational content has been proven to improve learning outcomes and information retention and comprehension. While the logistics involved in implementing real-time accommodations can present challenges for universities, there are resources and strategies to guide you in creating an accessible learning environment for your students.

Common Challenges of Real-time Accommodations in Higher Education

Managing real-time accommodation requests at a university can be quite complex, given the multitude of students, accommodation types, offices, and campuses involved. Let’s discuss the difficulties that come with real-time accommodations in higher education.

Scheduling and Centralizing Requests
Universities have a range of needs for live accommodations: lectures, meetings, conferences, webinars, and more. These events are hosted by different departments and campuses. Often, universities lack a centralized location for accommodation requests and a clear policy for captioning compliance.

When it comes to live-streamed events, scheduling each meeting separately is often the most practical approach. However, this can become a monotonous task for recurring events such as weekly lectures or seminars. It can also burden accommodation offices with the responsibility of scheduling multiple classes a week, every week.

Managing Files
A high volume of live video content results in a high volume of files going between a university and its vendor. If accessibility isn’t centralized at your university, managing the delivery of assets between parties can be fragmented and inconsistent, resulting in delays for students and confusion for university employees.

Class Cancellation
Schools don’t always have a means of communicating when a class that has accommodations scheduled is canceled. If a class is canceled and the live captioner is unaware, they may be stuck waiting to get into a meeting that isn’t happening and the university may get charged for the class.

Technical Difficulties
Even if a captioner has been booked and a class is running as scheduled, things don’t always go according to plan. For example, sometimes professors forget to turn their microphones on at the beginning of class, rendering the live captioner unable to hear the audio and provide captions.

 Considerations for building an operational framework rooted in the social model of disability➡️ 

Streamlining Accessibility

Now that we’ve gone over some common challenges that universities face, you might be a little wary of implementing live captions at scale. Fortunately, there are ways to streamline the real-time accommodation process and simplify accessibility.


Centralized accessibility at a higher education institution means that every lecture and event goes through the same accessibility process. Centralization can be a very efficient, cost-effective, and thorough solution to provide students with real-time accommodations. It might seem like a daunting project, but it’s entirely doable and worthwhile with the right approach.

Depending on an organization’s size and needs, centralization can be enormously helpful in making accessibility testing and measurement sustainable by providing a consistent approach to addressing accessibility issues across the institution. By centralizing accessibility efforts, universities can better coordinate and prioritize accessibility initiatives, ensuring that resources are being used effectively and efficiently.

Centralization can also facilitate the sharing of best practices and resources across departments and campuses, enabling universities to avoid duplicating efforts. This saves time and resources and encourages buy-in from higher-ups, who may be more likely to support accessibility initiatives that are clearly and consistently articulated across the institution.

Learn how 3Play Media and AIM have integrated to streamline fulfillment of real-time accommodation requests

Accommodation Management Platforms

Accommodation management systems help universities stay organized and keep track of accommodations requests. AIM (Accessible Information Management), for example, is a web-based database system that provides a way for university disability and accommodation offices to communicate and interact with faculty, staff, and disabled students from one robust platform.

Students who need real-time accommodations can list their course schedule on the AIM platform to communicate which classes need live captioning. The university’s accommodation management team can then assign these classes to a university-approved captioning vendor.

AIM also allows students to schedule their exams, sends reminders to students, aids in proctor and testing coordination, allows faculty to manage and track textbook requests, and more.

Accommodation management systems like AIM, as well as Symplicity and Clockwork, alleviate stress around student accommodations by providing a single robust platform that cuts out many steps in the ordering, scheduling, and delivery of real-time captions.

3Play Media Makes Student Accommodations Easy

Choosing the right live captioning vendor will help you stay organized and ensure that all of your students receive accurate, high-quality captions. A great vendor makes accessibility easy.

Real-time captioning comes with questions such as: If the captioner loses internet connection during a lecture, will the class no longer be captioned?

With 3Play, professional captions include an auto caption failover system that ensures captions don’t miss a beat. If there’s a disruption to live professional captions, we’ll automatically switch to live automatic captions to guarantee an uninterrupted learning experience. 3Play’s Live Professional Captioning service is complete with caption customization and post-event accessibility options to make your live events run as smoothly as possible.

The 3Play platform is extremely flexible and allows for almost any payment configuration. For large universities with multiple campuses and departments, billing for accessibility services can be arduous and complex, especially if one department or office handles caption costs for the entire university. One option at 3Play is project level billing, which allows for invoicing at the project level instead of sending one university-wide invoice. We also offer the ability to group multiple master accounts for additional reporting, visibility, access, and billing flexibility.

In addition to flexible billing, 3Play makes it easy to efficiently schedule your real-time captions for the entire semester. The platform features an efficient scheduling workflow with an overview dashboard to manage all events from one location. Within the 3Play platform, you can schedule recurring events, manage canceled classes, and track captioner assignments.

AIM & 3Play Media Integration

Did you know that 3Play Media and Accessible Information Management (AIM) have integrated to streamline the fulfillment of real-time accommodation requests? Once you’ve linked your 3Play Media and AIM accounts, managing student needs for real-time captioning couldn’t be easier. This enables:

  • Better Student Experience: Students get everything they need for the entire semester right in AIM, including a single captioning link for each course.
  • Better Staff Experience: Staff no longer have to manage the extremely manual process of being the intermediary between the student, AIM, and the captioning provider.

Learn more about our integration with AIM.

An Accessibility Partner

Real-time accommodations are a necessity for educational institutions; the many benefits that live captioning offers have the power to make or break a student’s experience. With challenges around scheduling, communications, delivery, and more, providing the services your students deserve sometimes seems impossible.

Fortunately, you’re not alone. There are many ways to make this process streamlined and stress-free, and 3Play Media is here to help. As the leading media accessibility provider in North America, 3Play can be the accessibility partner that provides guidance and peace of mind every step of the way.

Watch the webinar: Guide To Digital and Communication Accessibility in Higher Education

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