Campus-Wide Response to Captioning: Moving Towards Full Compliance

When it comes to video captioning in higher ed, one of the biggest questions on campus is, “Who’s going to own this?”

Is it the Disability Resource Center, the department creating or hosting the media, or the institution?

At the University of Arizona (UA), the answer is: All the above. UA is moving towards a fully captioned campus through a prioritization approach.

During this webinar, you’ll learn how UA approaches captioning and the criteria used to determine allocation of funds for video captioning. Additionally, discover how successfully building trust and working closely with key personnel across campus units increases access to captioned media. Options for developing processes to ensure media are created accessibly across your campus will also be discussed.

This presentation will cover:

  • How UA approaches captioning and the criteria used to determine allocation of funds for captioning
  • How successfully building trust and working closely with key personnel across campus increases access
  • Options for developing processes to ensure media is created accessibly across campus


Dawn Hunziker
IT Accessibility Consultant | University of Arizona

Patrick Loftus (Moderator)
Marketing Assistant | 3Play Media

Webinar Q&A: How the University of Arizona is Moving Towards Full Compliance

Captioning initiatives at the University of Arizona (UA) are driven by the university’s desire to make information accessible for everyone from the start.

Through the Disability Resource Center (DRC), UA has helped countless students and departments caption media, fueling a strong push to meet full compliance in captioning.

Dawn Hunziker, IT Accessibility Consultant at UA, is at the forefront of UA’s captioning initiative. In this Q and A, Dawn expands on UA’s approach to captioning, from who’s involved to where they get the funding.

How many people are part of your disability services team?

DAWN HUNZIKER: I’m the IT Accessibility Consultant, and I have a colleague, Jeff Bishop, who is an IT Accessibly Analyst. We both work on the IT Accessibility component.

Then, in terms of captioning, we have two staff members. One is the primary coordinator. She is also our Alternate Media Coordinator. She’s working both in coordinating document conversion services and our captioning coordination services. Then she has a supervisor who helps her, if there’s really busy times. And then they have a student staff of about 20 student workers that we cross-train to work between our testing accommodations area, our document conversion services, and captioning.

We do have a separate area for document conversion and captioning. A lot of institutions tend to try and use interpreters or CART captioners to create that content and performing the task of coordinating the captioning and coordinating the services, but we have not gone that route, simply because our interpreters and CART captioners are full-time in the classroom and out and about on campus. So we really want them to have that focus. And we take care of coordinating the captioning services and the document conversion in a separate area of our unit.

In terms of your student workers, are your student workers work study, or regular part-time? How long did it take to train them? And what exactly does their day-to-day job look like?

DAWN HUNZIKER: Both. We do have some work study individuals. But we don’t limit that job to be a work study job because what we find is a lot of work study students come in expecting one thing, and it’s a rote job. And if you are bored by sitting and doing the same thing over and over again, this is not the job for you. But we’re very upfront with student workers letting them know that, if this isn’t working for you, that’s fine.

With student workers, I think, it’s a constant training. It’s another employee, and it’s that constant check in, make sure everything’s going OK.

Our student workers, come in about a week before classes start and have training. Our coordinators have been very good. They have manuals that the students can refer to as they’re working through.

We start them with a very simple process, and work them up through the process. We also have lead student workers that will help train the new student workers. So setting up that hierarchy, so that they learn to rely on each other and learn from each other, is a key component.

… With student workers, I think, it’s a constant training. It’s another employee, and it’s that constant check in, make sure everything’s going OK.

Do you only caption through your staff, or do you use a captioning vendor?

DAWN HUNZIKER: We use a mixture. Captioning vendors do a great job. I’m all for sending it out to the vendors and having them do that portion of the job and work with us and collaborate on that.

I like the mixture idea because, if there’s something that needs to be turned around very quickly, it’s very easy, and we have the ability to do it. [For example], with the announcement of the president, we requested rapid turnaround on those videos so that, when it was posted that night at 10 o’clock, by 8 o’clock the next morning, we had captions on those videos. We can’t do that in-house. And that was invaluable.

Where do the funds come from that are in the account used to pay for the captioning services? Is that a fee that is charged during tuition?

DAWN HUNZIKER: No, we have an account that the university has set aside. And last I heard it, I think it was a couple of million dollars. But I also hear that we go over that on a regular basis. But it’s money that the institution has dedicated.

We talk to them on a regular basis, but we’re working to be fiscally responsible. We show that there’s a need. We show that it’s an accommodation for an employee, or for a student. And we keep very close tabs on that account.

And it’s managed by DRC. But it’s not part of our budget. We have a separate DRC budget that we use for our office supplies, and staffing.

Why don’t you auto-caption all lecture captures? And which accommodations and disabilities groups do you reach out to, including the autism spectrum, dyslexia, deaf, hard of hearing students?

DAWN HUNZIKER: If we know that a lecture capture is happening in a course, we let the students know. And that goes out to the deaf and hard hearing students, anyone with a hearing impairment, and a couple of students in the autism spectrum that have captioning as an accommodation. We have a way to mark students for accommodations in our database. And anyone that’s marked with that captioning accommodation gets a notice.

[We don’t caption all lectures because as] analytics show, across the board, that for face-to-face courses that are being recorded with lecture capture, very rarely do students go back and watch the whole recording again. They’re going back, and they’re looking at a piece of it. They don’t go back and look at it at all.

So we’re offering that same opportunity to the deaf and hard of hearing students, it’s just we’re going to turn that around as quick as they need it when they request it.

I estimated [captioning all lectures in one course], and it put us up into the million of dollars for captioning.

I think that money is better spent on that public content and on those classes that are flipped classrooms. So if an instructor is using our lecture capture to provide the lecture content ahead of time and using the face-to-face venue for that discussion and activity related, collaborative learning related component, then yes, of course, those courses get captioned. That’s not even a question. Where it comes into play is when it’s a recording of a course that you’ve already attended.

What would you say is the best way to spread both awareness and support for captioning on campus?

DAWN HUNZIKER: Get out there. Network. Make sure you’re on those key listservs that happen around campus. I’m on listservs for web developers, for instructional designers, for the IT staff that are on campus. Make sure that you’re advertising, attending those meetings and looking at it from an IT accessibility piece.

Right now, a major focus is on captioning. This week, we presented to the IT directors on campus, a big group of IT personnel across campus that are leaders in the IT area, and said we want to come and provide training for your area. If your area is providing videos, contact us. We’ll caption them.

So it’s sending that message out repeatedly, and saying it over and over and over. Every time I send that message out, I get 20 to 30 messages back again. And they’re always different, new individuals.

We have information on our website about it. And we’re in the process of creating a letter for the campus to raise that awareness and let them know about our resources. But we’re working through the politics of all of that and making sure that the admin know what we want to do and what they can expect, budget-wise, as well.