Be the Change.

"Be the Change that you wish to see in the world." -Gandhi
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 CreateAccessibility.com. Here I can share my experiences, learning, and document my accessibility journey.

My long-term goal is that accessible design principles become integral and purposeful within the hands of our classroom creators. These young creators will be the ones designing our future that I hope will be a much more accessible one for people with disabilities like myself. For now, my focus is on closed captioning. As someone living with a moderate-severe, bilateral, mixed hearing loss, I use captioning on a daily basis. It is such a simple and powerful gesture to press the CC button on a video when using multimedia in a classroom or during a presentation. If those captions are good, my comprehension improves dramatically. If those captions are less than desirable or absent entirely, it becomes an obstacle to learning.

Captions are not just for Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. Dual coding theory provides a theoretical foundation for caption use to improve access and learning for all of our students. Our language learners benefit from both seeing and hearing language. Quality captions also provide increased exposure to print for our earliest learners to boost early literacy skills. Struggling learners of all ages can also benefit from the multiple inputs that captioning provides. Captioning can even help improve comprehension when audio quality is less than desirable Have you ever stopped to experience the difference in video content when sitting next to the air conditioning vent on a triple-digit temperature day compared to the seat furthest away? It's a completely different experience that good, quality captions can help equalize. In short, I believe captions benefit everyone.

Despite all the benefits for captioning, it has been my experience that they are not widely displayed in classrooms, trainings, presentations or conferences and are not an essential part of the creation process for most educators and student-created content...yet! I aim to change that. I will use this blog to document my process and learning as I work towards creating the accessible future I desire for myself and current and future students. I hope you consider joining my journey by offering feedback and asking questions.


Feedback Requested.

I like to hear from you! How often do you display captions in your classroom and/or presentations? If this is not currently part of you practice, what is stopping you? Please complete this anonymous Google Form so I can gather additional data to inform how best to proceed with my project.

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