Captioning Corporate Training Videos: What You Need to Know

March 23, 2023 BY REBECCA KLEIN

A Look at Disability in the Workplace with Cheryl Rayburn [Podcast Episode]

Corporate training videos have become popular for companies worldwide to educate, train, and onboard their staff.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, when companies pivoted to virtual and hybrid work models, corporate training videos were used for their cost-effective, engaging, and versatile nature. According to Forrester Research, employees are 75% more likely to watch a video than to read documents, emails, or web articles.

This blog will discuss the legal requirements for making corporate training videos accessible, the benefits of captioning company videos, and valuable tools to increase engagement.

Legal Requirements for Captioning Corporate Training Videos

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires private companies to caption their content. This includes public-facing videos, training videos, video tutorials, and videos used for internal communications.

Under Title I and Title II of the ADA, company training videos must be accessible.

Title I of the ADA prohibits employers and government agencies from discriminating against qualified individuals on the basis of a disability. Title I covers all aspects of a job, including job training.

Title II of the ADA prohibits public entities from refusing to accommodate people with disabilities and must provide the necessary aids to ensure equal access.

Under the ADA, employers must make the necessary accommodations for their employees as long as these accommodations do not impose “undue hardship” on the business.

Undue Hardship for a Reasonable Accommodation

Legally, the only way an employer would be exempt from their obligation to provide a reasonable accommodation is if such an accommodation would cause “undue hardship” to the employer.

Undue hardship means significant difficulty or expense. Undue hardship can refer to financial difficulty and accommodations that are incredibly substantial, disruptive, or would fundamentally alter the nature or operation of the business. Employers typically make case-by-case basis judgment calls on whether a specific reasonable accommodation would cause undue hardship.

If a specific accommodation is deemed an undue hardship, employers are expected to try to find another accommodation that can be made without hardship.

EEOC v. FedEx

In 2014, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued FedEx for failing to provide captions and sign language interpreters for in-person training and training videos in the following situations:

  • Mandatory initial tour of facilities
  • New-hire orientation applicants
  • Staff meetings
  • Performance meetings
  • Safety meetings

This was a clear violation of the ADA, and the courts agreed.

With an annual revenue well into the billions, FedEx could not prove that providing captions and sign language interpretation were “undue burdens” to the company. When FedEx filed a motion to dismiss the case, a federal judge denied the motion.

The case was eventually settled, with FedEx agreeing to pay $3.3 million and provide programmatic relief to resolve the disability discrimination lawsuit.

Supervisory Trial Attorney for the EEOC Maria Luis Morocco said about the case against FedEx:

The law is clear: Employers have to provide reasonable accommodations to ensure that deaf and hard-of-hearing job applicants and employees are afforded equal employment opportunities — which includes the full benefits and privileges of employment, such as being informed of performance expectations and safety requirements.Maria Luis Morocco, Supervisory Trial Attorney for the EEOC

 Implementing accessibility at your company? Learn more about disability in the workplace. 

What are the benefits of captioning corporate training videos?

There are many benefits of captioning videos, but for training and onboarding videos, specifically, captioning helps with accessibility, engagement, and translations.

1. Accessibility

The most apparent and essential benefit of captioning is accessibility. Providing accessible company training videos is not only legally required, but it’s also ethically important.

Captioning training videos ensures that deaf and hard-of-hearing employees receive the same training as other employees. Additionally, many people in the workplace have a disability that may not always be physically apparent. Regarding accessibility, it’s crucial to be proactive rather than reactive. Just because an employee’s disability isn’t disclosed or visible doesn’t mean it’s not there. Accessibility ensures that all employees receive an equitable chance at success, which, in turn, contributes to greater success for the company.

2. Engagement and Memory Retention

Have you ever sat through a long lecture before? It was probably hard to stay focused. While training videos can be highly engaging, sometimes it’s harder to capture a person’s attention with video alone. Videos are a great way to share information in an engaging way. However, even with video, keeping an audience’s attention can still be hard.

So, how can you retain employee attention? You can use captions! Captions help to reiterate and clarify information for your audience.

According to Ebbinghaus’s “forgetting curve,” learners rapidly forget acquired knowledge once learning ends. Within one day, 50% of what employees learn is forgotten, and 90% is lost within the first week. One way to combat the “forgetting curve” is to use captions: A research study by the University of Iowa found that people recalled information better after seeing and hearing it.

3. Translations

Video accessibility even helps with diverse audiences. Many companies are global organizations with employee bases in multiple countries. Getting company training and onboarding information translated into other languages can become time-consuming and expensive. When your videos are already captioned, it’s easy to translate the content for a broader audience.

Making Corporate Training and Onboarding Videos Engaging and Accessible

Training and onboarding videos are great educational tools, but to make them engaging and accessible, it’s essential to implement video accessibility.

To make your videos accessible, they should include tools like captioning, audio description, transcription, interactive transcripts, and playlist search. Without these tools, training videos become inaccessible to employees with certain disabilities.

When you caption your videos, you make it easier to translate, create derivative content, and use tools like the interactive transcript and playlist search.

The Interactive Transcript

The interactive transcript allows users to search for keywords in a transcript, then jump to the specific spot where the keyword is mentioned in the video. It creates an interactive viewing experience for your user.

In a study by the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, test scores increased by 3% for students who used closed captions and 8% for students who used interactive transcripts.

Playlist Search

Playlist search allows users to search for a keyword throughout the whole video library. If a user is searching for training videos about employee conduct, they can simply type that into the search bar, and every video about employee conduct will populate.

Playlist search makes it easier for your employees to customize their experience and find the videos they need to watch more efficiently.

Case Study: Oracle University offers online and offline training programs to help customers and employees adapt to Oracle technology. Oracle captions 100% of their training online videos. They’ve noticed improved engagement, better comprehension for non-native English speakers, and greater flexibility for their viewers. Oracle notes that the 7% increase in overall production cost is worth the extra value the transcripts provided.

Corporate Companies Investing in Video Accessibility 

Many organizations realize the tremendous impact that accessibility can have on their employees.

For example, Oracle uses captions and transcripts to enhance its on-demand video training program, Oracle University. Many working professionals use Oracle University to help further their careers by seeking knowledge specific to their role or industry. Oracle captions and transcribes 100% of its video content. They noticed improved engagement and comprehension for non-native English speakers and greater flexibility for viewers. Oracle believes that the increase in overall production cost to make their videos accessible is worth the extra value that video accessibility provides. 

Additionally, Mary Kay, Inc. produces educational and training video content for its independent salesforce, who are English and/or Spanish speakers. The company saw the value in captioning its videos in English and Spanish because it ensures that everyone, regardless of ability or language, has equal access to valuable training information that could impact the success of each contractor. More contractors now have access to essential information whenever and wherever they want.

A look at disability in the workplace. Listen to the episode.

This article was originally published by Elisa Lewis on October 22, 2018, and has since been updated for accuracy, clarity, and freshness.

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