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University of Wisconsin

University of Wisconsin-Extension Accessibility Policies

Continuing Education, Outreach & E-Learning (CEOEL) serves as the coordinator for University of Wisconsin-Extension continuing education programs at all 26 campuses. CEOEL also provides ID, media, and marketing services for 8 collaborative degree programs. The media services team works with both marketing and online courses. Accessibility policies were developed because UW-Extension (like most places of higher education) is required by law to be compliant with the ADA and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. The accessible designs UW-Extension developed are in line with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), as determined by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

Although the law may have instigated UW-Extension’s development of accessibility policies, they have taken it much further, finding that accessible design supports their mission, aids all users, and allows for searching of multimedia. UW-Extension provides captioning and transcription for all media content, not just upon request by students with accessibility needs. Further, an instructional technologist sets up one-on-one consultations with students who have specific accessibility needs. There is an accessibility team at CEOEL that meets quarterly to strategize online accessibility issues and develop best practices. Says Patrick Wirth, Director of Media Services at University of Wisconsin-Extension, “The one thing we strive for is that we want the outcome of our content to be the same for all of our students across all programs.”

How UW-Extension Utilizes Captioning and Transcription for Accessible e-Learning

Over the past three years, UW-Extension has created an estimated 1,000 media assets, including video, audio, and narrated presentations. All of this media content has been captioned and transcribed with 3Play Media, a remarkably progressive feat. The content transcribed includes meet the instructor videos, virtual labs, virtual fieldtrips, narrated presentations, and what they call “chalk talks.” For narrated presentations, UW-Extension has developed an efficient workflow for adding downloadable transcripts with images that correspond to the slides of the media.

In terms of workflow, they simply upload an MP4 file to 3Play Media, receive captions back, and upload captions in the webVTT format, which works well with HTML5. For their downloadable transcripts, they submit the audio file of the narrated presentation to 3Play Media, download the transcript, and apply their program-specific template and images.

How UW-Extension Utilizes Captions and Transcripts for Marketing

Not only do the students love captions and transcripts; the CEOEL staff loves them, too! The staff has found that captions and transcripts provide creative marketing strategies. Downloading a transcript of a student interview or testimonial allows the marketing team to rearrange the text into a storyline, pull quotes to highlight, and improve SEO.

Further, many UW-Extension marketing videos get put on YouTube, and captions make the videos rank higher and improve accessibility and engagement. The workflow is simplified because UW-Extension has linked their YouTube channel with their 3Play Media account. All they have to do is select the videos they want captioned, and 3Play Media automatically posts the captions to the video when they are completed.

UW-Extension has taken advantage of the many benefits that captions and transcripts provide, utilizing it for accessibility, student engagement, marketing, SEO, and searchability. Working with 3Play Media to create an efficient and refined workflow, captioning and transcription is now a vital part of their e-Learning strategy.

Impact of Captions and Transcripts on the Student Body

To see how adding captions and transcripts to media content was impacting the student body, UW-Extension surveyed their Sustainable Management students and found that 50% used the downloadable transcripts as study aids. The students appreciated that they could print the text, read along with the media, and highlight important parts as the instructors presented. In fact, much to UW-Extension’s chagrin, they found that some students relied solely on the transcripts and didn’t even watch the narrated presentations! The downloadable transcripts are so popular that if somehow a presentation slips through the cracks, students alert tech support right away that there’s a missing transcript.

Screenshot of University of Wisconsin System website on a laptop

3Play Media provides top-notch support on a quality service. I found the ability to edit my transcripts/captions online and download new copies any time to be particularly useful.

David McHugh
University of Wisconsin Madison
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