Closed Captioning and Educational Video Accessibility

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1 the complete guide to Closed Captioning and Educational Video Accessibility MEDIACORE

2 WHY ARE CLOSED CAPTIONS IMPORTANT? Video learning is exploding! Today, video is key to most online and blended courses, and because video has become so crucial to online learning, it s vital that every student can access it regardless of any disabilities. In many cases, this right is backed up by law. WHO S USING VIDEO? 94% of educators now regularly use video in the classroom as an effective teaching aid. source» Yet, the majority of video providers have overlooked a crucial accessibility feature that can also offer huge educational benefits to all students: Video subtitles, a.k.a. closed captions. Providing closed caption support guarantees equal opportunities to people with disabilities, gives everyone equal access to resources, and ensures that businesses and educational institutions are complying with anti discrimination laws such as the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and section 504 compliance accessibility for all students. nearly 1 in 5 americans are deaf or hard of hearing: failing to provide subtitles is denying approximately 48 million people access to this online content in the us alone. source» In fact, the benefits of closed captioning are so clear that even ex President Bill Clinton is passionate about it. Citing Neilsen Research on television subtitles, he explained that: [Subtitling] doubles the number of functional readers among primary school children a small thing that has a staggering impact on people s lives. 01

3 WHAT IS ADA COMPLIANCE, AND WHY SHOULD I CARE? ADA compliance specifies that higher education institutions must provide reasonable accommodations to a student s known disabilities. This includes the adaptation of course materials, which can include the recording of classes (lecture capture) to providing auxiliary aids and services such as closed captioning. Accessibility laws specify that people with disabilities are given equal opportunities to access and engage with the same content and resources available to a person without disabilities. If you want to learn more about how the Americans with Disabilities Act impacts video accessibility, Captioning provider 3Play Media offer some detailed resources online. Lots of institutions that we speak to know that they need to be providing captions with their content but might not be sure about the best way of delivering this. With a variety of options on the captioning landscape, each either their own pros, cons, technologies and costs - not to mention integrations with existing video systems and LMS platforms things can quickly get confusing. WHO IS THIS E-BOOK FOR? we designed this ebook to be a quick reference guide on the closed captioning landscape for educators and professionals at institutions of all sizes. in the following pages we take a look at how closed captioning works, and three different technologies for delivering captions. 02

4 SO, HOW DO CLOSED CAPTIONS ACTUALLY WORK? All of the subtitles you see in captioned videos are contained in a simple caption file, linked to the video via the video player used to watch it. Caption files such as SRT and VTT provide a simple set of instructions, telling the video player to display text at a set timecode, for a specified duration. THE ANATOMY OF A CAPTION FILE srt and vtt caption files may seem complex, but under the hood they re basically just text documents containing specific instructions for the video player to display certain text at specific timecodes. here s a short excerpt from a video about the orbits of planets: 00:01: > 00:01: Current understanding of the mechanics of orbital motion is based 00:01: > 00:01: on Albert Einstein s general theory of relativity, which accounts for 00:01: > 00:01: gravity as due to curvature of space-time, 00:01: > 00:01: with orbits following geodesics. So, to offer closed captioning on any video, all you need to do is create a caption file. There are three primary ways to do this. We ll take a look over the next few pages. 03

5 1. CREATING YOUR OWN CLOSED CAPTION FILES There are a number of apps available to help you create your own caption files. These typically let you load your video, type out captions as the video plays, and export a closed caption file in a common format (such as SRT or WebVTT). These files can then be uploaded, alongside your video, to your media platform, where they ll be made available to students during playback. Creating your own captions can be a good starting point: It will familiarise you with how closed caption files are formatted, and is cost effective. It s a great option if you need high quality captions for a few short videos. However, because it s extremely labour intensive it isn t suitable for universities who want to caption thousands of videos across hundreds of online courses. Here s a quick overview of the best captioning tools around, and some simple instructions on how to use them: CAMTASIA 8» Windows Techsmith s popular screencasting and editing app also has great support for creating and exporting SRT caption files for any video. Camtasia supports both manual caption creation and speech to text, which automatically creates captions from audio in the timeline (recommended for videos of a speaker with no background music or noise). Check out TechSmith s training videos to learn how to create captions using speech to text, how to create captions manually and export caption files when you re finished. 04

6 AEGISUB» Free, Mac, Windows and Unix Aegisub is the best free app we ve found for both Mac and Windows. It s free and very easy to use: Aegisub doesn t support video playback, but you ll probably want to have your video open in a web or desktop video player to reference as you create captions. In Aegisub, simply enter your caption text alongside a start and finish timecode and click the green arrow to save it. Repeat this for the duration of the video. Click File > Export as... and make sure to add.srt as the file extension. 05

7 HTML5 VIDEO CAPTION MAKER» Free, Web Microsoft offers a free, web-based captioning tool that s easy to use: First, you need to point the tool to the video you d like to caption: Upload your video file to an FTP server or online video platform that gives you direct access to the file path (this doesn t work with consumer platforms like YouTube and Vimeo). Paste the video URL into the Enter URL of video file field. Your video should appear in the player on the page. Pause the video at a point where you d like to add text, type out a caption and click Save & continue to see your caption added to the caption list below with a time stamp. Rinse and repeat for the duration of the video you d like to caption. When you re done, copy the full text and paste it into a blank text document, then save the document as [your title].vtt. ARE YOU A MEDIACORE USER? caption maker is a great solution to manually caption videos stored in mediacore. first, make sure that the mediacore video you are using is shared with the public (this is a necessary step to ensure that microsoft s caption maker can see your video, but a video only needs to be shared publicly for as long as you are creating captions). navigate to the video and select the download button. right-click copy link. paste it into video caption maker s enter url of video file field. 06

8 SUBS FACTORY» $7.99, Mac Subs Factory is a full featured, native Subtitling app for Mac OS X. It provides an easy, visual display of your subtitles durations and location in a video s timeline, as well as making it easy to jump to any subtitle within the video player. Simply click the yellow note button while your video is playing to add a three second subtitle block at that timecode. Enter your text and change the duration of the subtitle if necessary, and repeat as many times as you need. When you re ready to save your SRT file, click Export. 07

9 2. CREATING CAPTIONS USING A MACHINE TRANSCRIPTION SERVICE Here, your video content is fed through a computerized speech-to-text engine which then automatically generates closed captions for your content from the speech within the video. Generally, this method is around 80% accurate - and while it s good enough to generally give a viewer an idea of what s being said, it s often not high-quality enough for a student to depend on it for their learning. What it is good for, however, is allowing interactivity around the video such as allowing students to search the speech within a video, and find the section they need. Machine transcription can provide a rich source of metadata allowing students to find and discover the learning content that they need, even down to a specific point in the video. Machine transcription can also be used as part of a hybrid approach: instructors can use a caption file produced by a machine transcription service as a starting point, which they then load into a captioning application to tweak, edit, and generally make more accurate, before sharing it back with students to provide captions. PROS + + Automatically captions every uploaded video. + + Gives a good baseline level of captioning. CONS Accuracy generally isn t good enough for students to rely on it. Often struggles with technical vocabulary in academic subjects. + + Can be used as a starting point for manual tweaking. + + Provides rich metadata for content search and discovery. + + Cost-effective, scalable and fast 08

10 3. CREATING CAPTIONS USING A TRANSCRIPTION SERVICE WITH A HUMAN TOUCH Video is fast becoming a core part of the learning process and for this reason, many institutions choose to make use of services that use a real, live human as part of the process, to ensure accuracy in transcription and captioning. This is the most costly captioning option, but it s also the most accurate, and the only effective solution for ensuring that large collections of video learning content are accessible by students. Transcription services often offer a number of different options for institutions to choose from such as the time it takes to complete a transcript, and the combination of human/machine involved in the process. Aside from accuracy, there are a number of additional benefits to a human being involved in the transcription process. These sorts of transcription services often have a diverse range of specialized staff who are able to accommodate content technical vocabulary from different disciplines, which can be crucial in the sciences and other technical subjects. Many captioning services also provide translation, allowing institutions to extend the reach of their content to a global audience. Many online video platforms also include automated workflows which integrate with popular closed captioning providers -- and so if your institution already has a relationship with a captioning provider, it s worth checking if your video platform has an integration in place with that provider. If you don t yet have a captioning provider, the team at your institution s video platform can also make recommendations based on your needs and budget. PROS + + The most accurate option available for rock-solid, high-quality captions. + + Can incorporate technical subject-specific vocabulary. + + High-quality caption translation is also often offered. CONS Can be expensive, especially where an institution has lots of content. Because a human is involved in the process, the return of captions isn t as instant as auto-captioning. 09

11 SOME FINAL TIPS It s important to offer students a feedback mechanism, for when captioning isn t available for a video they need, or when there s an issue with a video s captions. Institutions should regularly audit their video accessibility. What percentage of your videos are captioned? What is the quality like? What feedback do your students have on the closed captioning you re providing? Institutions are creating more content than ever, of different types -- from core online course content, to student and faculty-created content. Each of these types of content has different purposes, and reaches different audiences. Institutions should have a clear policy in place regarding how captioning is approached for different types of content. A clear policy will help institutions to ensure accessibility, and manage the costs associated with captioning. The delivery of captions to the student is also crucial to consider. Users are increasingly using mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets to access video learning content (mobile video consumption has risen by 16x since 2011), so it s crucial that captions give a good experience on mobile devices too. 10

12 THANKS FOR READING! We hope this guide can help you better understand the benefits of considering a cloud hosted video solution. If you enjoyed the guide, please consider sharing it. And, if you d like to learn more about how you can improve your online video strategy, get in touch we d love to help! Share this book on Twitter Get in touch ABOUT THE AUTHORS james cross is an apple distinguished educator, and an expert in the use of online media for learning. as mediacore s director of education, james works with institutions around the world to help them build powerful learning experiences with online video. james is a published author on the topic of digital media based learning, and is invited to speak regularly on the subject including sxswedu and aidan hornsby is a filmmaker and photographer with a deep interest in how video can be used to assist and transform teaching and learning. aidan helps instructors from institutions around the world to produce great educational videos for their students. 11

13 MEDIACORE Video is transforming education, and MediaCore helps hundreds of educational institutions around the world embrace it. The MediaCore Video Platform puts powerful video learning and sharing tools into the hands of every student and professor empowering them to easily capture, manage and share video privately and securely across all platforms and mobile devices. In addition to our own distribution platform we integrate deeply with major platform providers like Canvas, Moodle, BlackBoard and Desire2Learn in bringing video to thousands of online courses our institutions create. Learn more at MediaCore.com» 12

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