Make Accessibility a Priority

As we’re all implementing technology to access our learners, it’s absolutely imperative that we prioritize accessibility. “But, Jen, none of my students have hearing impairments.” “But, Jen, I don’t have any students with visual impairments right now.” **Thinks to self: I can skip this content from Teaching Is Intellectual**

But wait!

Everybody benefits from captions and alt text. Everybody. As students are in various contexts, it’s imperative that they can access the content without having to have audio on. Captions benefit those who are learning in an environment where it’s not ideal or possible to use audio, captions improve comprehension by providing a visual check for understanding of the words spoken, and captions make your video text-searchable!

Many of the video tools you may be using, YouTube and Panapto, have transcription built in. If you’re using your phone to record for posting on social media, you need an app for that. On iPhone, you can use Clipomatic. You record your video directly in Clipomatic and upload it from there to your class’s social media site. Clipomatic costs $6 and has many language options. Android and Google users can use AutoCap which works in a similar way as Clipomatic. It’s $4/a month of you can use the free version with a watermark. Both allow you to edit the text before uploading.

Zoom allows for a meeting attendee to type captions during the meeting but does not have built in captioning. Microsoft Teams has live captions in meetings but only in English. We need to be mindful of these limitations in our synchronous group meetings – particularly with the expectation of students attending lectures in Zoom.

Most smartphones are equipped with a number of built in visual accessibility options. This is a great way to test the accessibility of our content. If the phone doesn’t detect alternative text for images to read through the screenreader, you’ll need to add it manually. All the social media platforms have the option to add alt text to your post. Again, alt text benefits ALL learners! It provides text descriptions for photo images so all can read/hear the description if the image fails to load. This provides another means of accessing the content if wifi is spotty or there are other tech barriers.

Accessibility must be a priority, not an afterthought – a built in part of our course delivery design. What other tools do you use to ensure your content is accessible for all learners?

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