Showing posts from 2016

Why Closed Captioning? What the Research Says

What does the research say about captions? Captions benefit all learners and people use captions for different uses. Morton Ann Gernsbacher provides an excellent review of literature in "Video Captions Benefit Everyone"  that summarizes studies on this topic. As expected, captions benefit D/deaf and hard of hearing users by improving comprehension but the effect has been found to be similar for hearing children. In particular, there have been numerous studies demonstrating how captions benefit children learning to read with early literacy skills. Additionally, captions help improve comprehension and promote memory retention. There has also been numerous studies on how captions support learning a second language.

More recently, Karen Linder, Ph.D., published a national study looking at Student Use of Captioning and Transcripts in College today. This study I find particularly interesting because the 2/3 of the 2,839 respondents were age 24 and younger meaning they grew up in a …

Why Closed Captioning? Improve Your SEO

Closed Captioning, Subtititles, and Transcripts provide text that search engines can index resulting in better Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Businesses or individuals with a lot of video content desire traffic to their content to improve visibility and monetization strategies. Videos with captions will help drive traffic to your content because not only will the title and description be indexed but also the captions and transcripts meaning users are more likely to find your video over one a similar one that is not captioned. I am not an expert on the backend of how this works, so if this speaks to your why behind starting or continuing a captioning practice, there are lots of articles and tutorials online that provide a more in-depth explanation of how this works.
Searching for Captioned Content Improving my SEO is not a big captioning motivating factor for me but I am always on the look-out for good quality, captioned content. This can be done easily with a few tricks. You can ta…

Why Closed Captioning? Easily Navigate a Video

When captions are present on YouTube videos, it makes it easy to navigate to a certain part of the video.  This is especially useful on longer videos to find a small portion to share in class. I've also used this feature in combination with Control/Command + F to quickly find a keyword and go exactly to that point in the video. Transcripts help to be more efficient in using media and locating exactly what you need.

To navigate to a certain point in any YouTube video:

Click More > Transcript Choose your desired transcript. YouTube defaults to the manually-created captions in the language of the video however you may see Automatic Captions transcripts as well as transcripts in different languages if uploaded. 
Scroll and click on the transcript and your video will automatically go to that section. Transcripts have other benefits besides being able to navigate a video. I have copied and pasted video transcripts into a Google Doc for further analysis by students. I started this proc…

Why Closed Captioning? Access to Other Languages

Any video on YouTube or within Google Drive that contains manually-generated captions, allows the viewer to self-select a language of their choice and the captions will be auto-translated. It's as simple as choosing the Settings Gear > Subtitles/CC > Auto-Translate > and finally selecting a desired language.

Both YouTube and Google Drive allows video owners to upload multiple subtitles or Closed Captioning files, so content creators who are multi-lingual can create transcript files in more than one language to ensure greater accuracy than the auto-translate feature. In this case, the user would still click on the gear and see additional Subtitles/CC options for each language a caption file was uploaded.

Given the diversity of languages present in our classrooms and homes today if educators and their students closed caption their video content, we can Create Accessibility for even more users. Imagine a student video project now accessible to family members who speak anoth…

Why Closed Captioning? Part 1/7

If there is one thing I keep hearing this year, embedded in a variety of different contexts, is leading from your Why. I know my Why behind this Create Accessibility project but realize that doesn't necessarily translate to the why of others.

Recently, I attended the CETPA conference in Sacramento that had lots of different technology vendors. While talking with one vendor that has a fabulous product used in our classrooms, I brought up the point that none of their training content was captioned. I had previously brought this to their attention by email much earlier in the year and received a very gracious response.  However, this time I initially I didn't get any response in the conversation so I provided more information about the difficulties that inaccessible content creates for people with disabilities like myself. The vendor handed me their card with the response, "Well, IFthis is really important to you, send me an email." It was an odd exchange. Walking away…

Alt Image Tags in Google Docs, Slides, Drawing, and Sheets

Last week, I discovered that Google Drive (Docs, Slides, Drawing, and Sheets) all support the insertion of alternative text for images. Alternative text is an accessible design feature that provides alternative text for images. This is a critical for people with low vision or blindness who access the internet via a screen reader. It is also useful when your internet is slow because alternative text is faster to load and will display before the image loads. I have done my best to consistently use alt img tags on this site but had NO IDEA this feature was available in Google Drive. It only makes sense to also add alternative text to Google Drive files and what a great #CreateAccessibility lesson for students along with digital literacy.

How to add Alternative Text to Images in Google Docs, Slides, and Drawing.Insert your desired image.Click on your image.Format > Alt Text (all the way on the bottom of the format menu)Add your Alternative Text in the Description Box Click OK How to add…

Edit Existing YouTube Auto-generated Captions

If you have existing YouTube content with auto-generated captions and wish to create accessibility by editing the mistakes, omissions, and other errors, this post is for you. Before you get started, thank you!!! Thank you for being part of the solution to creating a more accessible internet. Depending on the amount of YouTube content you have, this prospect can seem daunting and overwhelming to ensure all your content is accessible. Please remember, Rome wasn't built in a day and the internet isn't going to become an accessible place overnight. We all do our part and learn how to do better one step at a time. I hope this post helps provide guidance on beginning the process of captioning YouTube content with existing auto-generated captions.

Prioritizing what to Caption.Keeping in mind that Rome wasn't built in a day, here's my recommendations.

Start with your shortest video to learn the process. Your shortest video will provide a training ground to learn the process wit…

Using Voice Typing to Create Transcript Caption File

If you're looking for another workflow to generate transcripts for Google Drive videos than can be uploaded as captions, described in a previous post, Google Docs voice typing provides a possible starting point. 

During the testing of Caption Creator for Google Drive, created by Jordan Rhea of, I made 13 copies of the same 47 second .mp4 file trying different caption file formats and recording the subsequent results. Once I figured out that you could upload transcripts as .srt files without any of the timings and the captions would auto-sync, I tried Google Voice as a way to capture the transcript from the video. 

At this point I was tired of using the same video and I wanted to try the process with a longer video. Not having any of this media in my Google Drive, I downloaded a 2 minute video from my YouTube Channel and then uploaded it to Google Drive. Using the Tab Resize Chrome Extension, I created the side-by-side display with the video on the left and an open Google D…

Uploading a Transcript to Caption Google Drive Videos

Google Drive video files support adding caption tracks. This is an important feature to create accessibility within classrooms especially when other captioning interfaces may not be available. If you right click on a video file stored within Google Drive, you'll notice a Manage caption tracks option. You can upload a caption file in either .SRT or .SUB format. These aren't exactly common file extensions that you see in the Google Suite. I've created .SRT files in the past and they are complex. The formatting requires a caption number, start and end times to the milliseconds for when the caption will appear, and finally the caption itself. I have used a paid app to accomplish this in the past. Not exactly a fiscally feasible solution for schools. Another option is using a text editor and manually creating this formatting. It's possible but not a user-friendly or reasonable solution especially with younger students. It's been really important to me to find a solution…

Dear UC Berkeley,

On September 13, 2016, the University of California, Berkeley published a response to the Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation findings regarding the accessibility of their publicly available, free online content. As a hard of hearing individual, California resident, proud University of California alumnae, and long-time public school educator, I am deeply saddened, frustrated, and sickened by their response.

The full 10 page DOJ report is available online. Here is my TL:DR version. A complaint was filed by the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and two Deaf individuals against UC Berkeley alleging that their free, publicly available online content is not accessible to Deaf and hard of hearing individuals. Following an investigation, the DOJ found that "significant portions" of the free, publicly available online content, housed on EdX, YouTube, iTunesU "are not accessible to people with hearing, vision, and manual disabilities."

Here are a few Findings of F…

Deaf Awareness Month Challenge

September is National Deaf Awareness Month. This month, #CreateAccessibility challenges educators to increase awareness and contribute to making online media more accessible for Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals by doing one or more of the following.

Display Captions When Showing Videos.  This can be accomplished by pressing the CC button, if present. I always recommend watching a video with captions prior to showing it in class since auto captioning is not reliable. There is a high probability of encountering objectionable content or terribly inaccurate captions with user-generated content on YouTube. The regular display of quality, accurate captions will support all your learners and create a more inclusive learning environment.

1st View, 2nd View, 3rd View Lesson.  We often ask students to complete a first read and then a second read of text with a different perspective or purpose. Take this idea and apply to video. Try watching a short video multiple times by mixing up the inputs…

Applying to #GoogleEI? Avoid These Common Autocaption Bloopers

Are you applying to join the next cohort of Google Innovators? Join my #CreateAccessibility Innovator project by captioning your 1 minute video. Not only will you help make the internet more accessibility to everyone, you will avoid these common autocaptioning bloopers illustrated with the blessing of a some fabulous #COL16 cohort members.

Autocaption Blooper #1: Names
Have you met "Present in my home?" Probably not by that name. But if you've had the opportunity to meet Rosalinda Jaimes, you know she's an amazing educator! Names are one of the most frequent autocaption bloopers.

Autocaption Blooper #2: Taken out of Context
Nannette McMurty is one of several #COL16 cohort members with inspiring visions that focuses on parents. Her vision video describes how she used technology with her children to connect with grandparents who live far away. However, the autocaptions tell a completely different story.

Autocaption Blooper #3: Tone
I am super excited about Joanne Schmutz&#…

We Can Do Better than 2% Accessibility

Captions!!! This warms my heart to see in Language as Evidence session @ — Melissa Oliver (@maoliver17) July 16, 2016As I return to full-time work today, I can't help but reflect on my learning adventures during the Summer 2016. Besides the Google Innovation Academy, that sparked this Create Accessibility Project, I attended and/or presented at 2 GAFE Summits, 1 CUE Rockstar Teacher Camp, Instructional Leadership Corps (ILC) Regional Conference, and the Google Geo Teacher Institute. Added up, that's roughly 15 days of professional learning with multiple sessions and speakers. Despite the variety of speakers, I encountered displayed captions once during the entire summer. 

To put this in perspective, I conservatively estimate that I saw at least 50 videos while attending these various conferences. If you do the math, that's 2% of the media encountered had captions displayed. The optimist in me thinks that perhaps this num…

Who's responsible for Accessibility?

Earlier this week I had an experience at the Apple Store leading me to wonder, "Who's responsible for Accessibility?" With a few days off this week, I signed up for a bunch of free workshops at the Apple Store. I began using an iPad for the first time a month ago and transitioned back to a Mac about a year ago and figured it was time to learn a few new things about my devices. I was particularly looking forward to playing with Keynote. I've always admired the visual ease of Keynote presentations as an observer. My roadblock came during the Keynote workshop when I couldn't figure out how to include/display captions for embedded audio or video content.

For anyone that has ever attended one of my presentations or trainings, you know my standard is to always display captions. If a video doesn't have captions or ones that are less than desirable, I create my own content or find an alternative. I typically use Google Slides with YouTube videos as you can display cap…

Curb Cuts, Captions, and Universal Design

I've been thinking a lot about Curb Cuts recently. They are everywhere and have gone relatively unnoticed to me even though I use them all the time. This animation includes just some of the curb cuts I encountered on a short morning walk to a local coffee shop. If you're counting, there are nineteen pictures and this montage is not inclusive. As someone without a mobility impairment, I have the privilege of going about my day without noticing curb cuts. These innovations were initially created to assist injured veterans back in the 1940s. Since 1990 they have been required by the American with Disabilities Act. Curb cuts were further modified to include tactile paving that assists those with visual impairments. Besides providing access to those with mobility and visual impairments, curb cuts assist families with strollers, the child learning to ride a bike, the shopper with a full cart, the itinerant teacher who moves schools and classrooms on a daily basis (this was me for 7 …

Be the Change.

When asked my biggest takeaway from #COL16, there are many. The one that feels the most urgent is the realization that If I want an accessible environment, I must create it. I can no longer wait for technology to be invented or perfected to make things accessible. I can no longer wait for policies or laws mandating accessibility guidelines within the online environment. I can no longer expect people or organizations to utilize universal design principles. If I desire an accessible environment, then it must be actively created. It's not enough to caption my own content and always display quality captions during trainings and presentations. These personal actions have not achieved the changes I seek. For this vision to become a reality, I need to be the man in the mirror and make a change. This blog is the first contribution to Here I can share my experiences, learning, and document my accessibility journey.
My long-term goal is that accessible design princ…