Learning Shorts: Supporting Universal Design with Captioning

Pre-captioning Video Lectures

by Guest Bloggers, Aaron Baker, data analyst, and Daniel Spillers, system administrator –

Closed Caption Example

Last week we learned that making content accessible for users with disabilities helps users of all ability. For example, adding transcripts and closed captions to online videos makes that content accessible to the blind and deaf but it can also be a substantial benefit to non-native speakers and people who would rather read than watch or listen. The transcript also makes the video searchable within itself, especially when each caption is tied to a specific time marker in the video. A simple recorded lecture becomes a multi-faceted learning tool.

This week let’s address a popular excuse for not making content accessible: time. One of the main reasons instructors fail to provide a written transcript of a video or to add closed captions is the perception that it takes too much time. Preparing for a lecture already takes time, add to it the possible complexities of video production and online course delivery. Adding accessibility to the end of that already long process seems daunting if it entails watching and listening to a video, then typing all that content into a written transcript, and finally adding closed captions.

But instructors are not so unprepared. For the most part, instructors know what they are going to say before they get in front of a class or behind the video camera. The easiest way to incorporate accessibility into any situation is to plan for it ahead of time and not after the fact.
Writing out lecture notes prior to class and then using those notes as a script for the class is an easy and streamlined way to plan and incorporate accessibility, because once a video of that content is produced, creating a transcript becomes a simple matter of copy and paste with minor edits for what may have changed during the delivery of the lecture.

Not only would the practice of “pre-captioning” lectures make them easier to transcribe, but having the discipline of writing out what you are already planning on saying in class leads to better teaching. We find this iterative principle in the freshman composition process: pre-write, write, revise. An iterative process is one that looks for constant improvement each go around.

Becoming a better lecturer means codifying the process and improving the content and delivery each time. The easiest way to do that is to open a file with the lecture—aka the script, transcript, captions, etc.—and make edits based on student learning outcomes and other assessments gathered from the last time the lecture was given.
This is what instructors everywhere already do, but perhaps didn’t realize how it could lead to improving accessibility.

Understanding Universal Design for Learning is part of a semester-long Learning Shorts series on Accessibility and Universal Design in conjunction with the Department of Educational Leadership, the Disability Resource Center, and Scholarly Technology and Resources (STaR).

Posted in: Blackboard News, Featured, Instructional Design, Learning Shorts

Comments are closed.