Accessibility for Higher Education Athletics

August 16, 2019 BY ELISA LEWIS
Updated: May 1, 2020

Go, team, go! If you’ve attended a college or university in the United States with a sports team, you probably know just how big sports culture is. Pre-game festivities typically take place in a parking lot outside of a sports stadium and filled with excited students and nostalgic alumni.

There’s no denying the popularity of higher education athletics. According to the National Football Foundation, 163 million people watch college football games – and that’s just football. That number doesn’t include other popular sports like basketball, soccer, and hockey.

The excitement isn’t only limited to the games themselves. With video, college teams are able to keep the momentum going before and after games.

In addition to attending games, college sports fans are engaging with other video content produced by higher education athletics departments including game highlight videos, student-athlete highlights, upcoming games, and more. If this content isn’t captioned, it becomes inaccessible to the millions of people who are deaf and hard of hearing.

By making higher education athletics videos accessible, not only do you increase accessibility, but you reap many other benefits too, like a boost in SEO and user experience.

Taking Your Video Content to the Next Level

User Engagement

Captioning college sports videos is like when a player scores the game-winning shot – it makes the experience that much better.

Closed captions with videos improve user experience. Did you know that 80% of people who watch video with closed captions on aren’t deaf or hard of hearing? With the popularity of smartphones and tablets, people are able to watch videos anywhere.

Some of these places can be very loud or quiet, making engaging with your favorite content difficult. Imagine trying to watch game highlights on a noisy train or even at the library? When headphones aren’t available in sound-sensitive environments, captions are a great way to still understand what’s being said in the video.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Google is the most popular search engine on the web, averaging 5.8 billion searches per day. When a user enters a search query on Google, thousands of results show up.

A good SEO strategy is not about trying to attract everyone to your video. It’s about finding the right viewers who are genuinely interested in your content. The best way to do that is to make sure your video gets in front of the right eyes.

Videos with captions had a 13.48% increase in views the first 14 days of being published.

Captions improve SEO because of the text that’s associated with captions. Search engines can’t watch a video, but they certainly understand text. When you caption videos, it’s more likely to rank higher on search engine result pages (SERPs) for relevant keywords.

A study by Discovery Digital Networks found that videos with captions had 13.48% increase in views the first 14 days of being published.

Accessibility and Legal Compliance

There are 48 million people are deaf or hard of hearing in the United States, and that with the increase in life expectancy, that number is rising.

Captions make your content accessible to students, alumni, and other fans that want to keep up with the latest in sports at your university. Inaccessible video excludes a whole population of people who are avid fans. They want to engage with your video, but without captions, they wouldn’t be able to understand any auditory information.

There are laws in place that protect people with disabilities from discrimination including the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and the 21st Century Video Accessibility Act.

accessibility laws: The ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, the CVAA

The ADA is a broad anti-discrimination law that protect people with disabilities from discrimination. If you’re publishing video content on a public university website for marketing purposes, it must be captioned in order to follow ADA regulations.

Under Title III of the ADA, places of public accommodations must accommodate people with disabilities. This includes colleges and universities that are privately owned.

The Rehabilitation Act is especially significant if your college or university receives federal funding. The federal government requires that any organization that receives funding must provide assitive technnology accommodations, including closed captions.

Additionally, if you’re a higher education atheltics department and your videos have been played on broadcast television, you must caption these videos once they’ve been posted online.

The venn diagram below visually shows how different accessibility laws apply to different types of organizations. You’ll notice that some organizations overlap different laws. That’s because more than one law can apply to an organization.


accessibility laws: rehabilitation act, FCC, CVAA, ADA, and state laws

Want to learn more about which state laws apply to you? Click the state where your college or university is located and discover which laws apply to you.


Ready to make your content accessible? get started with video accessibility with 3play media

This blog post is written for educational and general information purposes only and does not constitute specific legal advice. This blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

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