Why Automatic Captions are Not Enough: Making Instructional Materials ADA Compliant

YouTube, Zoom, PowerPoint, and other video platforms can provide machine or automatically generated captions and transcripts. However, when automatic captions haven’t been human reviewed and edited, they are not considered ADA compliant (Section 508). Multimedia should be supported with captions and transcripts that have been human edited for appropriate grammar, punctuation, speaker and sound identification, as well as time synchronization. The goal is for captions and transcripts to be easily readable and timed for comprehension when audio content cannot be heard. Did you know a study by Ofcom has shown 80% of viewers who use captions and transcripts are not deaf or hard of hearing?

To improve the accessibility of your videos, podcasts, and other multimedia with sound, there are services available to faculty. If you are IDL6543 certified and have W modality courses, consider applying for the Proactive Captioning for Online Courses initiative. If you are not yet certified or teach other modalities, consider making an appointment at the Faculty Multimedia Center (FMC) to explore self-captioning options. The UCF library has many video resources with proper captioning and transcripts all faculty may use, and “Ask a Librarian” may also help. Remember when selecting third-party multimedia content to check if proper captioning or transcripts are available and functioning. So, what is wrong with automatic captioning? Nothing unless that is all you are using in your Webcourses@UCF. Let’s take advantage of these opportunities to improve access to our instructional multimedia to benefit all students.

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