The Importance of Accessibility – Closed Captions and Transcriptions for Employment Training and Educational Media
In today’s technological environment, audio and video play vital roles in education, both in academic and workplace settings. Presenting carefully prepared online content to target audiences has been the goal in both the corporate and educational sectors for many years. Thanks to advances in technology and software, more people than ever before can now view your content from the comfort of their own home or computer desk at work. This removes the need for physical attendance at lectures or workplace seminars when distance or other conditions are limiting factors.
One of the major trends in this current wave of online media content is accessibility. According to the gov.uk website, 1 in 5 people in the UK have a disability, which could be visual, hearing, motor (affecting fine movement) or cognitive (affecting memory and thinking). However, the need for accessibility is not limited to disabled people. Various factors affect the ability of all users to access your content:
- Audio and visual content alone can become meaningless for users who are either hard of hearing or watching content in a noisy environment, such as cafés or other public locations.
- Connection problems like slow Wi-Fi can limit user access to live online broadcasts.
- Poor health and tiredness during or after illness or injury will make it difficult to focus.
- Older browsers and smaller equipment like mobile phones may have reduced capabilities.
Closed captions and transcriptions can make all the difference in making your content accessible to these users.
Is accessibility a legal requirement?
In the UK, the Equality Act 2010 (which replaced the Disability Discrimination Act 1995) requires both the public and private sectors to accommodate disabled people so that they are not excluded because of their impairment. This includes access to digital services such as websites and other online content. More information on this can be found in the following article on the Scope website: UK Law and digital accessibility: What it means for your organisation
There is an internationally recognised set of recommendations for improving web accessibility called the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1. WCAG gives us a benchmark and a common definition for accessible content. These guidelines will help you to ensure that your website and your online content are accessible to a wide range of people.
Why use closed captions for educational or training videos?
- Using closed captions in your online content is one of the WCAG recommendations. This ensures that anyone with hearing difficulties can be included in your target audience.
- Captions do not only display the words spoken. They also include descriptions of other relevant sounds that occur within the context of your video content, further enhancing the experience of those who cannot hear these sounds.
- Closed captions are also a useful tool for multimodal (or multisensory) learning. This involves engaging multiple senses concurrently (such as reading and listening or seeing and hearing). There is a consensus across research that multimodal learning can have a positive impact on learning outcomes. When you include closed captions with your audio-visual content, it can help to engage the viewer and optimise learning experiences and information retention.
Why use transcriptions for educational or training videos?
Transcribing your educational or training video content has several practical applications.
- As with the closed captions option above, preparing a ‘read-along’ version assists the viewer by providing additional sensory input to produce stronger brain connections. Participants have the option to learn at their own pace and to repeat any sections they don’t immediately understand. This is particularly useful to people whose native language is different to the one used in the presentation. Additionally, when video content is prolonged or broken up over several sessions, it is much faster for participants to have a quick visual scan back through the previous content to refresh their memory, resulting in greater comprehension of your prepared material.
- Pre-printed transcriptions of your educational or training video assist comprehension by allowing participants to highlight sections that stand out or are relevant to their area of expertise. They can add notes themselves, and this further use of sensory engagement (‘touch’, along with ‘vision’ and ‘hearing’) will again strengthen the brain connections and assist in recall during examinations and related activities.
- Once your audience has a copy of the transcript, the format of this document can then be modified to suit their preferred learning style. This further enhances the long-term retention and recall of information for your target audience.
- The text content of your training or education video can be used as the basis for course summaries, online and printed information sources, and to help produce further training materials.
- A transcription can make online searches on media platforms, such as YouTube, to find your video content quickly and easily. Your target audience will be able to find your resources much faster than trying to guess the correct words in the title alone.
- Translation into other languages is made easier when the source material is transcribed. This can allow you to reach an even wider audience, and when combined with closed captions, your content can be viewed and understood by people all over the world.
As can be seen just from these few examples above, the benefits of captioning and transcribing your employment training and educational materials are outstanding, and you will be displaying further compliance with the requirements of the Equality Act 2010 for accessibility.
But there are so many transcription agencies out there, where do I start?
McGowan Transcriptions is a reliable transcription company that provides accurate transcripts AND closed captions that have the potential to assist your audience in not just finding your online resources, but in attaining a better understanding and long-term recall of your video content. Additionally, you will be able to build an easily searchable store of information with every video created, where your content can be cross-referenced and used as the basis of future training and educational endeavours.
Blog written by Paul Dyson