By Barry Dahl – October 18, 2016
Taking a first look at videos for online courses in post #6 of the accessibility series
Videos seem to be playing an ever-increasing role in the delivery of online course materials. From step-by-step screencasts, to video interviews, to artistic or historical pieces; videos can be an effective way of developing skills or expanding the knowledge base of the students.
However, if a student is unable to see or hear the content of the video and audio, then we have an accessibility problem that must be addressed. Video captions and audio transcripts play an important role in providing access to students with disabilities. This post will concentrate on finding captioned videos that you can use in your online courses.
There are many video libraries out there that might have relevant content for the subject you teach. After finding a video that you would like to include in your course, there are two main questions that you need to answer:
- Do you the right to use the video, based on local copyright laws and/or the video license?
- Is the video properly captioned?
It might be a better strategy to proactively search for videos with these qualities, rather than trying to first find a video and then see if it has the qualities listed above.
Finding videos for reuse
There are many possible sources for videos that you are allowed to use in your online courses. Some of the most commonly used techniques for finding these videos include:
- Ask your Librarian
- Librarians are typically highly skilled at finding learning resources that can be legally used in education. There is also a great chance that the library subscribes to one or more video libraries specifically for this purpose.
- Search the entire web
- To search for reusable videos on all of the Internet, I suggest using the Creative CommonsTM search tool. The reason to use this search engine is that it allows you to search various different media sites, and yet it will only find results that are available for reuse and modification, if desired. For our purposes, Use the Creative Commons site to do a GoogleTM search for your topic of interest. This will search everything and bring back a Google search results page, where you can then go to the Videos tab to see videos from across the web that are licensed for reuse.
- Search the YouTubeTM video community
- When searching YouTube, you can turn on the filter that searches for Creative Commons licensed videos. When uploading a video to YouTube, there are only two licensing options: 1) Standard YouTube license, and 2) Creative Commons - Attribution. Therefore, any video on this site that has a Creative Commons license can be reused with attribution to the video owner. With the standard YouTube license, the video owner has retained all rights to the video, except for the rights granted to YouTube by the video owner (YouTube Terms of Service, Section 6)
The most common licenses that allow reuse without asking for permission are a) Public Domain and b) the various Creative Commons licenses. The concept of using anything based on the defense of Fair Use is beyond the scope of this post, so I’m going to hope that you can find content that is already licensed to allow for your use in an online course.
However, finding content that you can use is only part of the battle. Now you need to ensure that your found content has the necessary features for accessibility.
What are captions?
Captions are on-screen text descriptions that display the dialogue, identifies the speakers, and describes other relevant sounds that are otherwise inaccessible to the viewers of a video, television show, movie, computer presentation, or similar media production. Captioning was developed to assist people with hearing impairments, but can be useful to all people depending on their situation. For example, captions can be read when audio can’t be heard no matter what the reason, such as a noisy surrounding environment, or due to the need to keep quiet (no audio playing), such as in a hospital or in a library when headphones aren’t available. Captions can also help improve language comprehension and fluency, whether in your native language or a second language.1
Captions can be either closed or open. Closed captions can be turned on or off, whereas open captions are always visible.
Finding videos with proper captions
Once again, your Librarian can be an invaluable asset in finding captioned videos. If, however, you want to go it alone, here are a few tips.
For the past several years, all videos that are uploaded to the YouTube video community are automatically captioned via voice recognition software. Therefore, all videos have captions, however, the voice recognition captions are often very inaccurate; sometimes embarrassingly so.
On the YouTube website, there is a search filter that will look only for videos with captions that are not the automatically generated captions. Using the CC search filter will find only the videos where the captions have been “touched,” which is the term I use to indicate that either:
- The automatic captions have been edited, or
- A captions file has been uploaded by the content owner
Typically, but not always, either of the two actions above should result in captions that are much more accurate than the automatic captions. However, it is always a good practice to review the video with the captions turned on to ensure that they are helpful and not inaccurate. The short video below shows how to use these filters in YouTube.
Did you turn on the captions for that video? If not, try it again and click the CC button in the lower right corner. These are the auto-captions generated by YouTube within the first 30-60 minutes after uploading the video. There are only a couple of errors, including my favorite at the very beginning, where “This is Barry Dahl” is written as “This is very dull.” Also, the captions have no punctuation, so they appear to be a single run-on sentence.
Now check out the same video, with captions made from a transcript that was uploaded into the YouTube video community after the video was published. These captions are more accurate, easier to read, and better timed than the auto-captions in the first video above.
In the next post, we’ll look at creating captions for your own videos.
Accessibility Posts - October-November 2016
- Setting the Stage for Improving Accessibility of Online Courses
- What is a VPAT and Where Can You Find Them?
- What Value Can You Find in a VPAT?
- Alt Text for Web Page Images
- When Simple Alt Text is Insufficient
- Finding Captioned Videos for Your Online Courses
- Creating Captions for Your Online Course Videos
- Four Easy Wins to Make Your HTML Content Pages More Accessible
- Three More Ways to Improve Accessibility in your Brightspace Courses
- Creating Accessible Course Content in Microsoft Word
- Creating Accessible Course Content in Microsoft PowerPoint
- Six More Tips for Making Online Courses Accessible
Much of the content in this series of posts comes from WAMOE, the Web Accessibility MOOC for Online Educators; co-created by Karen Sorensen of Portland Community College and Barry Dahl of D2L.
1 Written by Karen Sorensen for WAMOE module 3-1.
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