Here’s How the University of Arizona Approaches Captioning
Updated: June 3, 2019
The extensive captioning movement at the University of Arizona (UA) began through a simple initiative to reach out to all departments across campus and inform them about captioning. Once the conversation was started, they found that faculty and students were interested.
As a land grant college, UA is responsible for providing educational opportunities to the community, while making all educational content accessible.
As part of their strong desire to be proactive in their responsibilities, captioning initiatives have increasingly become a priority on campus.
Who you gonna call? The itAccessibility Team of UA
The itAccessibility Team is composed of an IT Accessibility Consultant and an IT Accessibility Analyst. They are in charge of managing IT accessibility on campus and implementing grassroots initiatives to ensure all departments are informed of the services available to them.
To help with captioning, they have assembled a small, dedicated captioning team composed of an Alternate Media Coordinator, a supervisor, and a student staff of 20 student workers.
The Alternate Media Coordinator is in charge of coordinating both the document conversion services and the captioning services. When times are busy, the supervisor steps in to help.
As for the student workers, their main goal is to work on document conversions and captioning. All student workers receive comprehensive training on captioning quality and guidelines. They typically help caption short, 4-minute-long videos for the university.
Laying down the foundations to captioning
UA’s strong commitment to captioning is echoed on their website, itaccess.arizona.edu, with guidelines, standards and resources for the university and public to access and learn about new technologies and requirements for captioning.
The movement to achieve full captioning compliance at the University of Arizona (UA) began with their commitment to making content from the university accessible, right from the start. Their user-friendly website features a comprehensive Getting Started guide, which clearly outlines for teachers how to create accessible course materials.
Beyond their website, they also have a Disability Resource Center (DRC), a campus resource with a segment of individuals who help departments and students locate captioned media, create captions through vendors, and find content that needs captioning.
The DRC also works with the library to provide captioned media (with an uncaptioned version always included) of digital media that professors or students request.
UA also collaborates with many instructional designers like Panopto and iTunes U. The institution has played a vital role in helping to formulate these partnerships so that the process of requesting captions is as seamless as possible for the students. For example, through their Panopto collaboration, students can simply check a box to request captions for a video.
Brown bag with faculty
Establishing campus-wide collaboration is one of UA’s secret ingredients in their impressive efforts towards captioning compliance. As IT accessibility managers, the IT Accessibility Consultant and IT Accessibility Analyst are constantly reaching out to different faculty heads, as well as attending faculty and instructional design meetings/trainings around campus. Attending these meetings and creating these connections has helped the IT accessibility office understand the work and technologies that the staff around campus are using. It has also opened the door to further discussion on other accessibility initiatives.
The itAccessibility Team is constantly reaching out and sending emails to faculty to offer training and information on captioning. What they have found is that faculty are interested and aware of the captioning benefits, but aren’t informed on the resources available to them. Whenever the team sends new emails, a new influx of interested faculty members reply expressing their interest in learning more about captioning.
Persistence has been the key in ensuring all faculty become aware of their responsibilities towards greater accessibility on campus.
Getting the funding
A common hurdle for educational institutions in achieving full compliance in captioning is finding the funding for captioning. At the UA, they have a separate institutional account managed by the DRC, with millions of dollars allocated for accessibility. All captioning, transcription, and interpreter needs are funded through this account.
This unyielding willingness to provide money for captioning and accessibility proves the universities commitment to accessibility. It also strengthens and inspires the accessibility team to keep working towards full compliance because they know they will always have support from the university.
But even with this resilient support from the university to provide money for captioning projects, the itAccessibility Team has implemented efforts to save on captioning costs. For example, by using a mixture of in-house captioners and third-party vendors, they can save money on smaller videos and use funding for longer and more important videos.
In terms of what they decide to caption, they choose to caption content that will go out to the public, as required by accessibility laws, and content that has been requested by students to be captioned. This strategy avoids captioning lectures that students won’t listen to again or have already attended.
As for the future of the institution…
UA has no plans to slow down on their captioning and accessibility efforts. They plan to continue raising awareness and support for the faculty and students at UA, including working more closely with the professional and master programs to get their videos captioned.
Technology and teaching tools are changing rapidly, which brings new challenges and strategies for UA, but by continuing to stay informed and to collaborate with the faculty and students, they plan to combat all obstacles and in the near future be a fully compliant school.
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