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Caption This! for accessibility

Although most instructors may be aware that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) spells out requirements for accessibility, they may not know the specifics as they apply to the use of video and multimedia in their courses. Section 508 is an amendment to the Rehabilitation Act that requires federal agencies and programs that receive federal funding to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities.

What this means: If you show videos in your class, be mindful of the need to provide captioning to hearing-impaired students. Without captions, deaf and hearing-impaired viewers are excluded from learning the material contained in the video, which is both a legal and ethical concern. Similarly, audio recordings must be made accessible via a transcript.

There are benefits to captioning for all students in your class. Captions promote greater student comprehension of the material covered in the video. Captioning is a great example of universal design.

Here are some guidelines to follow as you consider using video or audio recordings in your courses.
- If you intend to use DVD, VHS, or web-based videos and/or podcasts in your courses, you are responsible for offering accessible versions of this course material. Many educational and commercially produced videos already have captions.
- Don’t rely on YouTube machine-produced captioning. Machine captioning is often error-ridden and inadequate, especially if the material is technical or if the audio quality is poor. Captioning services will caption video. The cost runs between $2 to $3 per minute.

If you have captioning questions, or if you have a student requesting captioning, contact your Instructional Technology Consultant or the Disability Services Office.