Making Multimedia Accessible

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Streaming video on the web is an engaging instructional tool. Everyone benefits from dynamic visual displays and dialog. Well, not everyone. Viewers who are deaf miss all audio content not also presented in a visual form. Those who are blind can access only the visual content also presented in spoken form.1   

Multimedia is defined as using more than one medium of expression or communication.  Although still images are a different medium than text, multimedia is typically used to mean the combination of text, sound, and/or motion video.3 

It is usually not difficult to make video and multimedia accessible to viewers with sensory impairments, but special considerations should be made at the design phase to ensure complete access to everyone.3

When thinking about instructor-created multimedia, this often means video or audio lectures.

Captions & Transcripts

Typically, the text alternatives for the sound in a video are captions (which display on the video and are synched to display at the same time as the audio) or transcripts which provide a textual version of the content.

The "No Audio" Multimedia Experience

The following activity is an attempt to simulate an educational video as a person who is deaf or hard-of-hearing might experience it.

Captions

Watch the following 1 minute video.  The audio has been removed from the video. 
  • For the first 30 seconds, there are no captions. 
    • Can you determine what the video is about? 
    • What content information do you think is being presented?
  • About half-way through the video, you will be prompted to click on the Closed Captioning (CC) button in the video player to activate the captions.
    • Can you determine what the video is about? 
    • What content information do you think is being presented?


Think About:

For this video, were captions necessary for the learner to understand the content being presented?

Captions interact with the visual information to provide equivalent information the learner.

Transcript

In the table below, you will see the word-for-word transcript of the audio in the first column, and in the second column, you will see a modified version of the audio.

Word-for-Word Transcript Modified Transcript
A memo is used internally within a business to transmit informal information.

A memo may be distributed on paper or in an email format.  

Typically, in either format, the memo is written on the company letterhead.

Since a memo is used internally, it does not contain the same parts that a letter contains.

The basic sender/receiver information is contained in the memo heading.

The heading labels are typed in all caps followed by a colon.

You use the TAB key on the keyboard to evenly line up the heading information.

Finally, the memo closes with a positive idea, but it does not contain a signature block.  

Remember, the sender information is given in the memo heading and does not need to be repeated.

Together, these components make up a business memo.
A memo is used internally within a business to transmit informal information.  A memo may be distributed on paper or in an email format.  Typically, in either format, the memo is written on the company letterhead.

Since a memo is used internally, it does not contain a dateline, an inside address, salutation, complimentary close, or signature block like is found in a business letter.  This basic sender/receiver information is contained in the memo heading.

The heading labels of TO, FROM, DATE, and SUBJECT are typed in all caps followed by a colon.  After typing a label, use the TAB key on the keyboard, then type the appropriate information. 

For example,
TO:              All Employees
FROM:        Mary Margaret, CEO
DATE:          April 30, 2013
SUBJECT:    Marvelous Muffins for Marvelous Kids! Event

Using the TAB key will evenly line up the heading information.

Like a letter, the memo closes with a positive idea, but it does not contain a signature block.  

Remember, the sender information is given in the memo heading and does not need to be repeated.

  • Could learners fully understand the concepts with just the word-for-word script?  (if the text is not synched with the visuals, then the visuals are no help…)
  • Does the modified transcript include enough additional descriptive text to allow the learner to fully understand the concepts?
  • Shift a moment away from a learner with an auditory disability to one who is blind or visually impaired.  Would the learner be able to fully understand the concepts from just the audio, or would additional descriptions in the modified transcript be needed?

Think About:

How does this demonstration affect the way you see captioning and transcripts used with videos?


1  Burgstahler, Sheryl, PhD.  "Creating Video and Multimedia Products That Are Accessible to People with Sensory Impairments."  DO-IT: Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology. University of Washington. 2014. Web. 17 Nov 2014. <http://www.washington.edu/doit/Brochures/Technology/vid_sensory.html>.
2  Rouse, Margaret. "multimedia." TechTarget. April 2005. Web. 17 Nov 2014. <http://searchsoa.techtarget.com/definition/multimedia>.
3  Burgstahler ---.
Image from: http://www.jillcode.com/wp-content/uploads/2002/09/multimedia.jpg

Next: Video Captions