Moves to online instruction: accessibility cheat sheet

A computer screen shows a man in a blue jacket standing in front of a blackboard.The sudden move to online instruction runs the risk of forgetting accessibility features. A cheat sheet on making a quick move to online instruction has some handy tips. Some are obvious, but of course, they are obvious once they are mentioned. Basics such as, make sure you don’t have a bright light behind you. But other tips are not so obvious for accessible online instruction:

– Don’t try to do anything you are not comfortable with
– Focus on the essential learning
– Keep lectures shorter
– Make documents accessible and caption videos
– Allow a range of assignment options
– Find ways to work out what works and what doesn’t
– Make expectations clear

This one pager has a brief explanation on each of the tips and should help give confidence to instructors making the change. Many tips are good for video meetings as well. The cheat sheet comes from Disability Compliance for Higher Education. 

 

Captioning helps knowledge retention

A video screen showing captioned text at the bottom.A new study found that students are happy to use captions when learning new information. By testing two groups the researchers found a significant improvement in outcomes by those who had videos with captions vs. videos without captions. Instructors are encouraged to either source educational videos with captions already embedded, or get help from their institution to do it. Or even better, learn how to caption their own instructional videos. The title of the article is, Captioning Online Course Videos: An Investigation into Knowledge Retention and Student Perception.

Access the article via ResearchGate and request a copy of the paper. With more teaching and learning happening online, this is one technique that can benefit all. Captions are not just for people who are hard of hearing. 

A similar study on the benefits of closed captions for learning was carried out by Oregon State University. They surveyed more than 2000 students in 15 institutions and found more than half said captions help by improving comprehension. The most common reasons for using captions were: to help them focus, retain information and overcome poor audio quality of the videos. Transcripts are often used as study guides and to find and retain information. 

“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.