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ESC Region 13 Discusses Accessible Video Captioning for Online Learning [TRANSCRIPT]

BARRY LINK: Good morning. Thanks, Tole, for having me down here. I’m a video producer at Education Service Center Region XIII in Texas, and I’m a video producer there. And we’re really excited about the work that we make, and we’re really excited about the captioning that we do, because it extends it. It extends the learning to people that are having disabilities.

Well, let me tell you a little bit about Region XIII. We’re one of 20 service centers in the state of Texas. San Antonio is 20. El Paso is 18. Dallas is 10. And we’re part of these 20 service centers that provide assistance to public, private, and charter schools throughout Texas. So it’s kind of a cooperative.

A lot of schools are struggling. We provide assistance in all forms, from being HR assistance to training and helping these campuses comply with some of the new requirements that are put on them by the state. We work very closely with the Texas Education Association. In Texas, we have the TEKS, the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, and that’s the standard by which children are tested on. And so the testing is always changing.

Small districts have a hard time kind of keeping up with what’s expected from their students, and that’s what the service centers do. We play kind of a big role in between the Texas Education Association and what’s really happening on the campuses, and we do that through a lot of professional development. We have a facility in Austin, Texas, where thousands of people come a year to get professional development on all subject areas, as well as leadership and also network with each other. As well, we sell products to the schools.

We’re really about teacher and leadership. We’re not really working with children in the classroom. We’re providing campuses with products and services that they use in their class, as well as online learning, which has become very popular.

Everyone’s faced with some budget constraints throughout education. Texas is no exception. So a lot of the workshops and things that we do there, we’re trying to transition them to online learning modules. And then, there’s the workshops, which happen at our facility. And then, our specialists go throughout the state and our region and provide those workshops on site at schools. And we do about a million other things.

I mean, we could talk for a long time about Region XIII and the services that they provide, but that would be a different conversation. Basically, we’re really about helping educators have success and having children have good opportunities and really provide the tools for teachers to learn and grow and for leaders to lead their teams effectively, for superintendents and principals to all recognize and share their common goal for student success. But what we’re really here to talk about is video production and captioning.

So the types of videos that we make, to name a few– classroom observation, expert interviews, direct teach, identity, awareness, and we also do a lot of location work. So at any one time we’ll have several productions going on that are trying to take the interests of all the stakeholders, communicate that effectively, communicate that efficiently, and raise awareness about what’s important in education, especially in Texas right now. We have a great in-house team.

So we have about three video producers, and we’re working with our specialists. And they’re out there in the field, and they’re saying, teachers are really struggling with some of these new things that they’ve got to be teaching with the kids. And we’ll develop videos that are trying to help them out and getting these tools online.

We are neighbors with the Texas School for the Deaf. And I think that’s been one of the real eye-opening things for us as we move forward with video production and online production and webinars and all this online learning that’s video based or webinars. Our partners over there were like, why can’t you caption this? Having the Texas School for the Deaf as a neighbor of ours really was an eye-opening experience in that we’re not accessible.

We thought we were doing some great work by bringing our video online. We’re transitioning our workshops to online modules and working really hard to make things available to people. And here, one of our biggest partners and neighbors is like, yeah, thanks a lot. What about us?

So that got us thinking. That’s something we had to do. So we started to look at captioning and realizing how important that was to a lot of educators and people in the community.

Accessibility. As educators, it’s really important that our work’s available. And like Tole said, it’s not just for hearing impaired. I find myself reading captioning a lot. It helps to reinforce your understanding, reinforce the learning. You kind of focus and pay attention a lot more.

It’s important. And as educators, I really feel like it’s our responsibility to make our content available, accessible, and as easy as we can to consume. And that’s really been where we’re coming from as a video production facility in an educational environment.

So I want to talk a little bit about workflow. I imagine you’re here, some of your organizations are making videos now and you’re wondering how to get captioning into them. Or you’re not making any videos yet, probably somewhere along the line of that. Am I right? Are some of you currently making videos, and you want to get captioning into them?

So what we do at Region XIII, we have a completed video. And that’s harder to achieve than it sounds at first, because there’s a lot of people involved in the making of videos. It’s a very collaborative process, as you know, even if it’s just recording a webinar or captioning a workshop. Typically, the content’s very long. It’s interesting only to those people who it’s targeted to. But in the end, you have a completed video.

We use Brightcove, which is a video server. There’s several out there– Kaltura, Wistia, even YouTube– and we looked at a lot of those. Brightcove is something I highly recommend. It’s got a tremendous ability to handle a lot of video. We’re uploading almost a terabyte of video a month. It’s able to recognize the player, so it’s changing its encoding and making the playback fairly seamless on mobile devices as well as on desktops. And it’s got multiple players, so you can affect the look of it.

So we upload our video, which is great, because now Brightcove’s handling the hosting. We’re not overloading our servers on site with hosting video. We’re able to tag that video inside the Brightcove platform. We’ll say, yep, we want this transcoded, and we’ll put in “3Play” into a little tagging area there.

3Play does the magic. I don’t even think I go to the 3Play website anymore. It’s just a seamless integration. And it’s not just 3Play and Brightcove. 3Play does it with several other video server providers. And it’s very cost effective. At $2.50 a minute, I’ll show you even how that’s a great value. But for us and the kind of work that we’re doing, we really felt like, as opposed to having someone sit there with headphones and transcribing, that this was a great price for us.

Then, we have captioned video. It takes about four days. As you can see, that’s the caption of what she’s about to say. We’ll see that video in a second. The beauty of it too is the interactive script, and I’ll show you an example of that in a minute as well. And that really takes accessibility to a deeper place. And you’ll see you’re able to search a script, because if you’ve got long-form content, you’re able to have someone get through that content more quickly and get to what’s important to them.

At Region XIII, everything gets transcribed and gets captioned. That’s kind of a directive. We’re working towards that. It’s not difficult, and it’s not cost prohibitive. And it’s kind of how we’re starting to just make videos.

What’s next in Texas? We have a large Spanish-speaking population, and we’re going to be looking at translation. 3Play provides that service through Gengo. And translation’s important. I think it was how we were feeling about captioning before we realized School for the Deaf was right there. They were like, how about us?

The Spanish-speaking population is growing. And I think that it’s perhaps neglected, and we’re not paying enough attention. And I think the expectation of proper translation is upon us. And not just translating words, but emotion and feeling and intent on presentations.

So I’d like to share with you guys some of the work that we do at Region XIII and show you and have you have a look and see what things look like with captions and without. Let’s see here. This is theteachertoolkit.com. What we have realized with video production is it’s better to show than to tell. So we do a lot of classroom observation.

And when you see kids in the classroom learning, it’s engaging. When you have someone standing up there doing a presentation at a workshop with their peers, they’re not that engaged. Let me just show you this little opening here. You notice the player here. I’m going to reload this page. As I hover over–

TEACHER: Hi. Welcome to theteachertoolkit.com.

BARRY LINK: So as I hover over here, this is the player. So this is provided by Brightcove. You’ll notice all players like Wistia or even YouTube have a little different controller down there. And this little CC button is Closed Captioning. Maybe she’d like to pop back up.

TEACHER: Hi. Welcome to–

BARRY LINK: I’ll turn this on.

TEACHER: –theteachertoolkit.com. This site offers a variety of instructional–

BARRY LINK: And we’ll play–

TEACHER: –strategies created by teachers for teachers. The tools were specifically designed to help in lesson planning and engage all your students. Here’s how it works.

From the Home page, click here to browse through all of the tools. They’re organized by categories, located here, to assist you at different times during the lesson. Click one, and you’re given all the tools designed for that category. Now, let’s take a look at one of the tools.

BARRY LINK: Let’s take a look at one of the tools.

TEACHER: Scroll down to find–

BARRY LINK: So as you can see, if you were hearing impaired, deaf, or not able to have your volume up in a public place, that this content would still be accessible to you. I’ll take the volume down here on these. So it’s just a matter of hitting that closed captioning. And see here it says “Music Playing.” And that’s what Tole was talking about. It’s not just words.

KARINA FERREIRA: So a Whiteboard Wipeout is this. So it’s a whiteboard and a marker that kids use to write answers to questions that I ask them, and they love it. Kids go get the boards, and I will ask them to work on numbers if that’s what we did today. And so I tell them, OK, write the number–

BARRY LINK: I’ll take the volume completely off, and we’re still able to get something out of this video. And when we’re working with our clients, whether they be internal clients to Region XIII or other entities that have seen our work and want to work with us as a video production firm, the closed captioning is there. They’re really excited about it, something they don’t have to worry about because it’s being handled on the back end.

And It’s wonderful for us, because that’s just part of our workflow. It’s not even like, oh, and you’ll get closed captioning. That’s just this great addition. It’s like, no, that’s just how the videos are made now.

And that’s really appealing that clients don’t have to worry about that. That’s something they can take back to their audience and something that they can get excited about, getting it back to being our responsibility as educators. I wanted to demonstrate as well– this is the interactive script. So with 3Play, you’re getting captioning as well as this interactive script.

INTERVIEWER: –interview Milton Dean. He’s an expert in memory and in helping students remember information. I was really excited when Milton agreed to the interview, because we get a lot of questions from teachers related to–

BARRY LINK: You take the audio down. I think you can see this is pretty awesome. If you’re in education, a lot of your content and materials are going to be long, 45-minute conversations or presentations about curriculum or about leadership or about the difference between transformation and turnaround. These are the kind of content that we’re working with the schools in Texas. And quite frankly, if it’s not important content to you, it’s very hard to watch and get through.

But with an interactive script, I think this is one of the most exciting features that we’re going to be incorporating a lot more into our work. If I click anywhere in this content, I can just be reading this. I’ll scroll down. Oh wow, let’s start with short term and memory work. I click this, and it goes to that point in the video.

As well, I have this ability to search. It was lagging a bit, so now we’re right there. So when you’re dealing with lectures especially, like a lecture series, you can imagine some of that content, you kind of want to get to the last 3/4 of what the person might be saying.

Here, I will type in “memory.” So now along that timeline, I’m seeing every time he says the word “memory,” and I can go there and see what he’s saying. So it’s taking accessibility really to a nice, minute level.

I want to show you in the workflow. Here’s a video that’s not had captioning done, so there’s no CC in the playbar. The beauty of the Brightcove and 3Play relationship is once the closed captioning is done, the player gets updated. You don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to take a file and put it there or go into the code and look at the XML and make sure that the timing is lined up. Once the transcription is done, the player immediately updates.

And I want to share a couple of these videos with you. In Texas, we do a lot of work with special ed. For instance, now special ed is inconclusive. They’re not taking special ed kids out of the classroom. Teachers have to teach the kids in class. So that’s a tremendous burden, and the teachers are needing to find a way to do that.

And that’s one of the big things that Region XIII does, is help with that training, helping teachers deal with special ed kids. So in this case, we’ll reload this page here. So especially for our special ed communities, we’re really sensitive and conscious about making our content accessible to them. So here again– oh, we’re not playing. There’s probably a lot of people right now playing videos, so there’s a bogdown.

ROSEMARY ALEXANDER: –or bad behavior is one of the most divisive issues between schools and families. It really gets the family where they live, because it’s how their daily lives are affected by behaviors–

BARRY LINK: Not a terribly exciting video. But if you’re a parent with a child with special needs and you might be hard of hearing, this is gold to you. This is really powerful, wonderful content, and it’s closed captioned. And that’s really important. It’s important to us to make that accessible for people.

And that’s the thing with content I’m finding. If it’s not important to you– there’s so much coming at us with social media. We’re just bombarded nonstop with content. And unless it’s really speaking to you specifically, you’re going to just let it go. But the people who are paying attention to your content, it really has to be available to them in as many forms as we can have it.

So that’s kind of what we’re talking about accessibility. And I’m excited to be working with a organization and have partnerships with other organizations that take this seriously. The next time you’re watching a video, take the audio down. Imagine you’re hearing impaired. Think about that world that is so rich to us and yet potentially so unavailable to a surprisingly large amount of people.

And as video creators, content creators, think about that as being part of your responsibility to make it accessible and make it available. So I hope that I’ve kind of stimulated some ideas or thoughts in your minds about your work moving forward. And if you have any questions, Tole and I will be happy to answer them. Or if you’d like to just talk about some of the work that you’re doing.

AUDIENCE: Just a question again about your process. You’re producing the video, and then you are just shipping it off to Brightcove and 3Play, and they work the magic?

BARRY LINK: Magic is the only word that I can come up with to describe this process. Because what would happen was, prior to finding Brightcove, you’d make a video. And it would be a huge file. And the person you’d made it for would be like, well, can you just email it to me?

And you’re like, I can’t just email you this 400-megabyte QuickTime file. Oh, OK. But I can get it to you on a junk drive– very difficult to do stuff with this media. Because video files are large even compressed, even squished to the point where they’ll play on a Windows Media machine. So these files are very large.

Brightcove and a lot of the video servers have very inexpensive solutions. It’s when you start uploading tons and tons of videos– let’s say you’re doing a lecture series, and you’ve got a six-part thing and they’re 45-minutes long– you need a partner in that. We did look at YouTube. Of course, the price is right with them. But on our campuses, we were worried. A lot of times, there’s restrictions. Campuses will restrict YouTube.

We wanted to have a much more professional face. And also, Brightcove allows us a lot of organization on the back end, and they do the encoding. They’re making the videos play properly on all our devices. Yeah?

AUDIENCE: Quick question. So if you uploaded it to Brightcove, and then let’s say you have a blackboard course. Do you just embed the URL link? Is that how a professor would use that?

BARRY LINK: So you’re saying once it’s uploaded, you would just embed the link

AUDIENCE: I’m asking.

BARRY LINK: Right. So the question is, what do you do with it once Brightcove has processed it and now you’ve got a video? How do you get to your audience? There’s a couple of ways, and most of the video servers handle it the same way. You’re provided with a direct link, or you’re able to take HTML code or JavaScript code and give it to your developer, and they’ll put it right into their page. So you’re either seeing your video inline, or you’re being taken to a direct link.

And with this content I strongly suggest– it’s something we don’t as video producers talk about– but it’s delivering it on the web. OK, great. You made a great video. You uploaded to Brightcove. Way to go. Now what?

You do need some good, strong web support to help you along with that. Because if you’re just going to send out a link, that’s going to pop up in a web browser without any real context. So the videos that I’ve shown you, they’re playing inline in this blog. So you’ve got this blog that you’ve created. Let’s see here. Right.

This is a blog that this content creator has made, and they’re able to take HTML code and put it inline. So this is a blog, What’s So Special. This is kids with special needs. I really encourage you, if you’re a video content creator, to look at the large video hosting services– Brightcove, Kaltura, Wistia, probably a dozen others out there.


BARRY LINK: Right. I do believe that YouTube also provides you with direct embed code which, if you look at TED, TED Talks, even TED-Ed, they’re using YouTube to embed their videos inline into their content. And it’s really key, because once you’ve got your viewers’ eyeballs on your content, you want them to stay there. You want them to see the next video. You want them to click on the available PDF material. You want them to go to the workshop or buy your product. Yeah.

AUDIENCE: So you mentioned $2.50 per minute for the processing.


AUDIENCE: I wonder if that involves space on the server to host all our stuff at no charge.

BARRY LINK: Well, the question’s talking about the cost and the storage space. 3Play is not hosting material. Like in our case, Brightcove is hosting the material.

So that’s $2.50 a minute. It’s unlimited. You could have five hours of speakers from a workshop, and it’s $2.50 a minute. I’m kind of amazed they’re able to do it like that.

And their transcription’s excellent. I think you’ll notice with the YouTube translator, it’s not excellent. And if something’s not excellent, you don’t look excellent, and you’re kind of making excuses. So with the closed captioning service from 3Play, it’s unlimited, and it’s excellent.

It’s spot on. And it’s also representing when there’s not– so it might say “street noise,” “car honks,” “music playing.” So it is trying really hard to provide hearing-impaired people with as rich experiences as they can.

So your video storage question is really more about who’s doing your hosting. And when you start producing lots of content, we’ve found things like YouTube are just not really there to cut it. Depending on your organization and what your resources are and how much you’re making, the higher-end video hosting services really become cost effective immediately. Yeah.




BARRY LINK: Right. I think the question is about how does Kaltura use 3Play Media. Do you want to talk about that?

TOLE KHESIN: Yeah. So with Kaltura, it works the same way as the process that Barry described. You basically just create a linkage between your 3Play Media account and your Kaltura account. And then with Kaltura, you can just add a tag of “3Play” to whatever videos you want to have captioned, and then that’s it. Everything else happens automatically.

Kaltura sends the videos to 3Play Media. 3Play Media captions it, sends the captions back, and then they just show up. And that’s it. And you’ll see the CC button in the player when the captions are there.

AUDIENCE: Right. So if you have Kaltura, your chances are good to have access to 3Play Media.

TOLE KHESIN: Yeah, definitely. Yup.

AUDIENCE: OK, thank you.


BARRY LINK: If you’re interested, I could bring up a Brightcove account and show you the back end. Is that something you’d be interested in? Yeah.

AUDIENCE: I have a question. Are you getting your current funding from the federal government to help subsidize you?

BARRY LINK: The question is, how do we make money and survive? It’s a good question, especially currently in Texas. A lot of people are asking that.

We’re grant funded. A lot of federal dollars are dedicated to special needs. We work with the University of Texas and get grant money from them, as well as we sell products. We’re not for profit, but we’re not not-for-profit, but we’re not for gain.

Cost recovery is our model. We’re not there to be making money. We’re really there to be providing services to the school districts, and we do that through cost recovery and products that are priced appropriately for school districts.

If you’re interested, I could take you through this process right now. I’m in Brightcove, and I’m going to log in. Thank you for being patient. So here we are in our Brightcove account, and we’ve got a lot of media in there. Brightcove does a great job of enabling us to organize it. So here is a video we’ve created.

ARIC BOSTICK: I think the way we improve school climate is to engage students–

BARRY LINK: This is our Brightcove queue. It’s not transcribed yet.

ARIC BOSTICK: –the way we greet them. Hello? How are you doing? Are you fired up today? Hey, good morning, Julius. How are you doing?

BARRY LINK: He’s an expert talking about student engagement and that type of thing. But it has not been approved by our client just yet. But pretty soon the client says, OK, great. We’re going to go with that. Let’s put it up on the website.

Next thing that happens, I’m in the back end of the code of that video a little bit, and I’m going to go to Additional Tags. And immediately, it says 3Play. I say save. I’m not even on 3Play. I have not touched 3Play.

We have an account set up. I went there. I linked the accounts. And it would be the same with Kaltura and Wistia several other players. In about an hour or less, I’m going to get an email that’s says, your video “Expert Interview with Aric Bostick” has been uploaded, and it’ll take four days. And then usually in about two days, that video is closed captioned. I haven’t done anything.

And as I showed you before with the player, all of a sudden now it’s got the CC. And not only that. If I’m done with Brightcove– I’m upset with them. Now, I’m going to go to a different company– I own that transcription. I’m able to use that with a different video server. I also can download it as a Word document. It’s just text associated in time with that video.

I mean, it’s great that Brightcove and these other things talk to 3Play. But I’ve paid that $2.50 a minute, and I own that transcript. And it’s now a Word doc. It’s a PDF. It’s associated with any other video server that I want to go with.

And it’s been a game changer for us. I’m able to walk into conversations with clients and people and be like, yeah, it’s closed captioned. It’s just a matter of the way we do it. So I haven’t even gotten into 3Play, but we could go to 3Play. OK.

And I didn’t have these preloaded, because this really isn’t a pitch about the companies we work with. It’s just the ones that we’re using. And I really want to impress upon you to do the research, to go online and to find the companies that work well for you. This is really about your responsibility as video content producers in the education online community that it needs to be closed captioned.

And here we are inside my company ESC Region XIII’s account. So I’m inside 3Play right now. I’ll just show you real quick. This is a list of videos that are being transcribed right now. I’ll go back real quickly.

Upload a New File. Just like I put “3Play” into the tagging of the video, if I wanted to do it from here, you could see the accounts. These are the partners with 3Play through a linked account. So about a year ago, I linked our account to 3Play.

But I could be with any of these other companies, not just Brightcove. And now I don’t even go to 3Play because they’re linked. They talk. I tag a video, and it’s done.

So let’s look at my files. The last thing that they’re working on, this called “ARD Meeting” right here. Let’s see what this is. Preview transcription. So I’m looking at the transcription right now for my video.

If it was critical, if it needed to be perfect, I could go in right now. Can I go in right now and work on that? It’d be like, oh, no. They keep saying that guy’s name wrong. Or you can be really detailed with this.

So here is the transcription to that video. And the next thing, like I had said earlier, we’re going to be working on translation. I need to set up a translation profile. It’s pretty neat how they do it.

It’s actually sent out, potentially throughout the world, depending on what language you’re getting it translated into. The translators are trained to bring feeling, for lack of another word, to the transcription. It’s not just a straight, sort of one to one. It’s the native language, and they work hard to kind of achieve that.

AUDIENCE: And what about the cost?

BARRY LINK: I think that’s $5 a minute. Am I wrong? I don’t know about the translation. The question is about the cost of translation services.

TOLE KHESIN: Yeah, so about the translation pricing. Actually, if you go to the 3Play Media website, there’s a link to pricing. You can see all the schedule and all the details there.

BARRY LINK: So I was wrong on $5. Maybe it’s not $5. So if there’s not any other further questions, I encourage you to enjoy the rest of the conference. And thank you for your time.