TechSmith: Video Lectures That Meet New Accessibility Guidelines

With growing demand for online courses, instructors are incorporating video lectures to give students the flexibility to learn at their own pace, increase engagement, and assess student performance. However, lecture videos must be accessible to provide learning opportunities to all students.

Accessible content doesn’t play favorites, but instead makes information available to everyone, including those with disabilities. Providing accommodations to students with disabilities is required by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, which is being updated effective January 18, 2018.

One of the major updates includes the incorporation of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 and applying Level A and Level AA Success Criteria and Conformance Requirements to websites and electronic documents, with an overall  goal to ensure consistency in accessibility across the information and communication technology industry. In order to avoid situations seen at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for not providing closed captioning for online courses and other educational materials, it is imperative to make sure your lecture videos meet the latest requirements.

Below are crucial ways to make your video lectures accessible:

1. Captioning

As one of the most well-known ways to be accessible, generating captions allows students with hearing impairments to watch videos and follow along by reading the corresponding captions. Things to consider when captioning your content include the accuracy of speech-to-text capabilities and whether or not the platform prompts you when captions are not aligned with captioning guidelines. According to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, “authoring tools shall provide a mode of operation that prompts authors to create content that conforms to the success criteria for supported features and file formats.” Non-ADA compliant captions need to be highlighted so they can be edited, and lectures can be held so they aren’t published until final approval. It is important that captions can be easily viewed in the LMS. Providing a transcript is advisable as well.

2. No Mouse Required

For the video player to be accessible to those with visual impairments, it must be usable by keyboard, not mouse. It must be navigable by a screen-reading device that allows the student to tab through options to pause, replay, fast forward, or adjust the volume. This compatibility must include the ability to read words (and images) on the screen and let the viewer choose which buttons to click. Everything image-based must have some form of text associated with it, so that those who are visually impaired know exactly how to interpret the image. Any interactive features or quiz questions must also be compatible with a keyboard and available for a screen reader.

3. Make Sure It’s Readable

It is important to create material that it is easily readable. To keep things simple, ensure there is high contrast between the background and the text—such as white background with black text—so that it is readable to anyone who may be color-blind or have other visual impairments. When choosing a font, avoid serifs, as the extra “decoration” of a serif font can make smaller text difficult to read. Choose a sans-serif font instead. In addition to using an  appropriate font, when incorporating links into content, use descriptive language because it provides information on where the link will take the reader. Avoid using the terms “click here” or “use this link”, but instead describe where the link will lead them. This descriptive language is much more helpful to those using a screen reader.

These are just a few of the areas you need to address to make sure your lectures are accessible. Click here to download the full report and read about the additional four key areas, as well as how to make sure your current and past lecture content stays compliant through this transition.

TechSmith was an exhibitor at the 2017 Innovations Conference.

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