What’s Accessibility Got To Do, Got To Do With It? Captioning Your Videos

Accessibility is just so cool! It takes a little extra effort, but once you’ve done it for a class, you usually don’t have to do it again (hint: create a Master Class in Canvas for each course you teach and make all changes there — then you can just export the most recent version of the course each quarter! If you want more details, ask the friendly folks over in eLearning, or keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming blog post about it!)

Caption all the videos you’re using in your course

Captioning videos can take a long time — believe me, I’ve been there. But it’s worth it for all the students that it helps. Once you’ve captioned a video, it’s always captioned. This is especially useful if you use the same video each quarter. In a world of open resources, you can even share your captioning with other folks. I know, it sounds like you’re giving away your hard work for free (which you are), but think of how many students you can help by creating and finding open resources that are accessible to all students.

Okay, so captioning… how does it work? Essentially, you are creating a transcript for a video so that hearing-impaired folks can access the same information as the rest of the class. This can also be useful for students who learn better visually, rather than audibly.

Captioning/transcribing videos is also handy because you can go back and search the transcript for a specific section of video. This saves students (and possibly you) time and energy; searching for a keyword or phrase takes less time than fast-forwarding or skipping through a video to find one piece of information. Many students use this function for studying. If they remember that there was information about, oh I don’t know, mitosis… they can search for that word; if the word was spoken in the video, then it will show up in the transcript. ASL instructors also use captioning regularly to accompany Sign Language that appears in a video for folks who are just learning the language. This is a great tool that I don’t think gets used often enough.

There are companies who will transcribe or caption your video for a pretty penny. But why not do it yourself?

Yes, it takes time. No, it isn’t adrenaline-pumping or dance-inducing. It does, however, create a great learning tool that can be utilized by all your students.

How do I caption my own videos?

Normally Canvas would have the direct option of creating a video within the platform (using the film strip icon in the toolbar for any Rich Text Editor within Canvas), which would then direct you to Amara.org for captioning. Unfortunately, a bug attacked and the captioning through Canvas function is currently out of commission (they are working on it and hope to return it to use soon).

While you wait for that feature to return, you can just go directly to the program that Canvas uses — Amara.org.

Amara.org is easy and simple to use. It requires that you provide a link to the video (easily found if you use Tegrity to record, or upload videos to YouTube). Once it loads the video, you get to start typing along.

Amara senses when your transcribing it getting behind the video, and will automatically pause the video for you so that you can catch up.

To see what a video will look like after you’ve finished captioning it through Amara, you can check out this video.

If you really enjoy captioning videos and have some spare time, Amara gladly accepts volunteers to help caption. It also offers a paid service where you can send them a video, pay for the captions, and they’ll do it for you (not as fun and not as free).

Where can I find captioned open source videos?

YouTube is constantly working to get all of their videos captioned. Vimeo does not currently provide captioning for their videos.

Why is captioning important?

Hearing-impaired or deaf students need captions in order to access the material for courses. If a student makes the college aware that they require accommodations, it is on the college’s plate to make sure that all material is accessible. This usually means that the material must be accessible for all students in the course or it will be pulled from the course. This is why it is extremely helpful (and stress-reducing) to caption all videos for your course ahead of time.

If you use media in your course and are unsure of its accessibility for all students, feel free to contact the Center for Disability Services on campus, or contact the eLearning office.

eLearning @ Centralia College
Kirk Library


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