Friday, December 17, 2010

Closed Captioning

One of the aspects of online learning that I struggle with is ADA compliance. Not the concept of ADA compliance, I completely agree that universal web design is better for everyone, but how do I implement ADA compliant web resources.  In the past this has been done by checking my website periodically to make sure that my websites are compliant by tools such as SortSite or designing with standards from W3C in mind. But in my mind, those are the easy things. Basic website design is easy to make compliant, what I have found more and more difficult is multimedia.

Technically, every time we post information to a website for our students to use in a class it should be compliant. This means that audio files have transcripts, video files are captioned, PDFs are accessible etc. Most of my faculty don't even think about making their content accessible until they have a student they have to make accommodations for and redo their entire class.

For my part I have tried to support faculty in these endeavors as much as possible and be an example of compliance with our college website. Yet, I have found that even I have forgotten to be compliant. So this semester I have been working with my graduate student to close caption our official college videos. This may come as a shock, but I have never captioned a video before.  My GA worked on it for about a month and could not get it to work. This week I was able to spend a couple hours tackling it. Finally after a few updates, the right versions of the right software, and a bit of luck I was able to add captions to a 2 minute video. Now, this was the first time I tried, and I'm sure after this it will be much easier for me, but I was surprised at how much work it took to make these videos compliant. To add insult to injury, I couldn't actually host this video on our Clipshare video server and had to directly upload it to our website.  What I was not aware of is that the close captioning process actually creates a text file linked to specific time codes in the video. These two files are linked, but seperate. As long as they can find one another, everything works fine.

So there is a happy ending, I have my captioned video and I have played by the rules, but would a teacher or professor have the amount of time to make this effort?  What gives me hope is how easy Youtube has made it to add captions to their videos. I can only hope that it gets easier for all of us to make our multimedia accessible, and for us all to value the effort it takes.

1 comment:

joseph said...

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