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Accessibility features embedded in lecture capture

Lecture capture platforms can accommodate human-generated closed captions, and are compatible with screen-reading software
University Business, November 2013

Unlike MOOCs, lecture capture platforms are used widely in for-credit courses. Providers of the technology have built in many accessibility features in the past several years.

Lecture capture platforms designed by Echo360, Panopto, and Sonic Foundry, for instance, can all accommodate human-generated closed captions, and are compatible with screen-reading software used by students with visual impairments. Students who cannot use a mouse can use keyboard commands to navigate the platforms.

Echo360 worked with Gallaudet University for the hearing impaired in Washington D.C. to develops its captions. Its platform now has an open-framework so its partner companies can add transcriptions and captions, says Wes Barnes, director of services.

“It’s an open platform that lets any of our partners who are interested in doing that type of integration work with us,” Barnes says.

Panopto was created at Carnegie Mellon University to provide lectures to students with physical disabilities who couldn’t attend class. Additional accessibility features in its platform now include podcasts that are created for all content, and to which users can subscribe, says Arix Bixhorn, vice president of marketing.

“For every record that gets created, either with Panopto or if it’s an existing video that gets uploaded, we will automatically create an audio podcast of that video for the visually impaired,” says Bixhorn.

Sonic Foundry is working on adding automated captioning and transcripts. Transcripts created by software are good enough for search engines to read but not quite accurate enough for human consumption, Brown says.

“More stable, more reliable, more trustworthy transcripts will be able to be created automatically from software,” he says.

A big part of the future in accessibility is allowing students with disabilities to upload video presentations and other content to its platform from an iPad, iPhone, Android, or other mobile device, Brown says.

Another initiative is making an institution’s archives of video lectures accessible to create a You Tube-like library that all students can access, on demand. “You have to have ubiquitous access, not accessibility on request,” Brown says. “In the future, accessibility will no longer be rationed.”