Closed captions help all students

YouTube logo and Closed Captions logoWith tertiary education institutions turning to online learning and creating videos of lectures, the need to caption these videos could be more important for all students than first realised. The findings of this study show the need for more work in this area, but early results show that captioning benefits most students, with or without disability. This finding could transfer to the general community. 

“When queried whether captions were helpful, 99% of students reported they were helpful (5% slightly, 10% moderately, 35% very, 49% extremely). We were unable to determine differences among students with and without disabilities, as we did not track individual survey responses.” Interestingly, in this study 13% of respondents indicated having a disability, but only 6% were registered as such.

young female at a desk with laptop, coffee cup and notebookVarious reasons were given for the benefits of closed captioning – noise in their listening environment, unclear speech in the video, spelling of new or unfamiliar words, and being able to take notes just by stopping the video and not needing to rewind to listen again. Students with English as a second language also benefitted. Although these results show the need for more research, they found there was a 7% increase in student results compared to the previous year’s students who did not have captioning. The article also discusses the cost of captioning and other options, such as speech recognition. The title of the article is, Closed Captioning Matters: Examining the Value of Closed Captions for All Students, and is published in the Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 2016.

Editor’s note: Anyone who has seen the results of “automatic” online Google captioning will know that the results are very haphazard. It is good to see how captioning is now being seen within the scope of universal design and could be more widely applied.

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Website accessibility – is it worth the hassle?

picture shows a tablet in a person's hand with a computer screen in the backgroundThis article from the Prototyping blog site uses its own advice in the presentation of this useful information for anyone involved in website design and content. They acknowledge that designing a website is already a hassle with so many things to think about that it seems too hard to think about accessibility as well. Find out why you should consider it. At the end of the article the give sources for the article – Why designing an accessible website benefits your company and all its users. Below are a couple of snippets from the article.

There are four guiding principles for accessibility, acronymed as POUR:

  • Perceivable: content must be perceivable in multiple ways;
  • Operable: content can be navigated through multiple means; the structure makes it easy to find what user is looking for;
  • Understandable: interface behaves in a predictable way;
  • Robust: content works well with mobile devices and assistive technology.

Links that inspired the article:

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The right to read: Copyright barriers and e-publications

Picture of a Kindle reading deviceFluent readers might be surprised to find that their world of books is not accessible to everyone. In Gerard Goggin’s foreword to Paul Harpur’s book, Discrimination Copyright and Equality, we are introduced to some thorny problems in the e-publications world. The ability to read is something that most people take for granted. Books can expand a person’s worldview, be entertaining, enlightening, and of course open up a world of knowledge and understanding. But what if you can’t read the printed word? Hard print books are translated to Braille, talking books, and there are apps that will ‘read aloud’ the text. But the e-Book world is another matter.

Goggin provides a comprehensive overview of the issues covered in Harpur’s book and gives an excellent snapshot of things we should all consider. The actions of Amazon and the impact on Kindle are mentioned. The right to read is clearly not recognised in the e-publication world. Goggin says, “The continuing oppression of print disabled readers, and their exclusion from the world of books, can no longer continue…” It is time to bring these issues into the mainstream, apply the principles of universal design, so that those who need accessible formats are no longer considered an exception needing special treatment. 

Those unable to access the printed word include people who are blind and have low vision, people with difficulty holding or manipulating a book, and people with cognitive disabilities such as dyslexia, autism, and acquired brain injury.

Gerard Goggin was a presenter at the 2016 Austalian Universal Design Conference. He is Professor of Media and Communications at the University of Sydney.

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Age and capability: some common myths

A young person stands on a stage hold ing a microphone. the backcloth has the words Siler IT fest with chinese characters written below.Singapore is leading the way in creating an inclusive society. Universal design is apparent in the new built environments and housing, and now they are looking at improving the technology side of life. Mothership.sg – a Singaporean digital news and information platform says there of five misconceptions about older people and their use of IT:

  1. Older people have learned everything that they can over their lifetime. 
  2. Festivals are for young people who like to party and spend money. 
  3. Older people are cliquish and prefer to hang out with their own peers.
  4. Persons with disabilities aren’t able to fulfil their aspirations.
  5. The government is already doing so much for older people and people with disability, so I don’t need to step up.

The Mothership website has more information about these misconceptions and includes short videos to explain more.

For many people “Old” is like tomorrow – it will never come. If we were to have inclusiveness, such terms would disappear – they were only useful to marketing professionals when they thought all people over the age of 60 were an homogenous group and needed special products and services. 

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Inclusive Toolkit by Microsoft

A black circle with the word inclusive in white letteringMicrosoft has produced a great document that spells out the need to design inclusively. The way the issues are explained can be applied to any design discipline. This resource is a best practice example of how to present a persuasive argument for designing universally. Here is a sample from the text:

“Inclusive design has a strong heritage in accessibility. There are great examples of inclusive practices from architecture, physical products and public spaces. Yet, digital technology presents new opportunities to expand this expertise in new ways. In this toolkit, we define inclusive design as a set of practices that can be applied to any existing design process. Inclusive is how we design. It’s our tools and methods. In comparison, accessibility offers ways to improve access to what is already designed. A curb cut is still a curb. The cut makes the curb more accessible. Inclusive design gives us ways to design for ever-changing human motivations and needs. And design systems that can adapt to fit those diverse needs.”

Download the toolkit here

 

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Considering body size and shape

CEUD Site-LogoThe Centre for Excellence in Universal Design in Ireland has developed a really useful set of fact sheets on considering body size and shape in designs.

The Overview fact sheet explains some of the statistical measurements used and how they can mislead designers.

The Data fact sheet explains the steps in using the data within minimum and maximum values

The Adjustability fact sheet  looks at “accommodation” and “adjustability” factors.

The Testing fact sheet introduces user testing and identifying how users will interact with the design, and lists the steps to take in a user study.

 

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Media Accessibility Guide

service providers accessibility guideMedia Access Australia has produced a comprehensive quick reference guide for accessible communications.  Although the target audience is service providers that deliver support to NDIS participants, it is useful for all organisations that want to make their information accessible. The contents include information on how people with disability access online information, producing and distributing messages, publishing content online, accessible emails, and engaging with social media.  The original guide was funded by Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs in 2013.

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