Accessibility Requirements for Online Course Multimedia Content (Audio and Video)

Distance Education policies

Listed here are Distance Education policies for accessibility compliance that need to be followed by all instructors teaching online or hybrid courses (50% online or more). See an expanded list of policies on the DE Policies page of the DE Accessibilities web site.

  • For all online classes, multimedia files that the instructor is requiring their students to watch or listen to will need to be made accessible. Multimedia files that are optional, but are on a JC server, such as CATE or Moodle will also need to be made accessible.
  • When an instructor creates videos for SRJC classes, and the video content changes on a regular basis (at least every 18 months), the videos will not need to be captioned unless a deaf student enrolls in the course. Such videos still need to be made available ONLY to enrolled SRJC students, not the general public.
  • Videos should have synchronous captions – transcripts are only sufficient if the video does not have captions. Videos are considered accessible if they have synchronized captioning of the audio portion and where possible, include descriptions of moving visual information. Supplying just a transcript for videos does not fully satisfy the law and SRJC requirements. To be fully accessible to the maximum number of users, it is recommended (but not required) to provide both.
  • Audio files need transcripts that provide text descriptions of the audio. Transcripts do not have to be verbatim; they can contain additional descriptions, explanations, or comments, but should contain all the necessary content from the audio.
  • Videos that are strictly visual (meaning there is no audio or the music does not have lyrics), will not need captioning.
    • Consider that these videos will be an issue for sight-impaired students. You will need to provide an alternative for the visually disabled. A transcript will be sufficient if it includes descriptions of non-verbal screen actions that need conveying.
  • Videos where the visuals include all the words of the audio, in essence the captioning happens in the video itself – as long as the displayed words adequately match the audio, these types of videos will not need captioning. Examples would be:
    • PowerPoint files are used where the audio is strictly the same as the text on the slides, unless the audio would provide a different context or a different meaning.
    • RSA Animate-style videos may fall into this category if the visuals adequately mimic the audio. RSA Animate videos are animated videos that use sketches to illustrate what is in the audio. Often times, the key words that are spoken are represented in the animation.

Captioning and transcripts using the DECT Grant

  • Captioning of all videos and creating transcripts for audio presentations are covered by a statewide grant for Community Colleges, called the Distance Education Captioning and Transcription grant (DECT).
  • There will not be a significant workload issue for the instructor to obtain captioning or transcripts.
  • Instructors should contact the Media Services department to help in procuring a transcript and/or captioning. Contact Katrina Smith by email or telephone at 707-521-7927.
  • It is helpful to provide a list of vocabulary terms or phrases you use in your multimedia files that are specialized to your subject to help with accuracy. Media Services will analyze the captions and transcripts for quality control, allowing for a 5% margin of inaccuracy.
  • 3CMedia Solutions offers an easy way for instructors to request captioning using the DECT Captioning Grant
    • Log in to your 3C Media account
    • From your "My Media" tab, click the "Details & Options" link to the right of the media you want captions for
    • Under "Tools", click on "DECT Captioning Grant"
    • Fill out and submit the form
    • Once created, (usually within 5 working days, depending on length), the caption files will be emailed back to you for uploading.

Captioning software if you want to caption on your own

For instructor-created videos, instructors are encouraged to use the DECT grant. If instructors are interested in creating transcripts on their own, there are various voice recognition software programs and captioning programs that with time and practice can help create a text file from the lecture. Most of these do have an added cost.

  • Dragon Naturally Speaking – Speech Recognition Software (PC) ($50)
  • MacSpeech Dictate - Speech Recognition Software (MAC) ($50)
  • Express Scribe – Transcription Software (MAC & PC) (has free version)
  • – (Converts MP3, WMA, & M4A into a text document) (Free web service to create your own and a paid transcript service)
  • – Captioning  (Create your own captions and subtitles, crowdsourcing captions possible) (Free)
  • (Transcriptions) ($20/year)

Accessibility considerations and requirements for third-party multimedia

When searching online for video or audio, keep in mind that you will need to consider the accessibility of the multimedia. A transcript alone for a video is usually not sufficient. Hearing impaired students may need descriptions of audio not covered by the transcript (or even captions).

  • Distance Education accessibility policy:
    When an instructor links to or embeds third-party videos (from other sources, such as YouTube), and references the video in assignments, tests, or otherwise requires the viewing of the video, it is the instructor’s responsibility to make sure they are either accessible to disabled students or have a plan in place as an alternative.
  • Consider the experience of the sight impaired. Will they be able to understand the content sufficiently from only accessing the audio portion of the file or a transcript? In some cases you may need to add visual descriptions to the transcript.

Check these sites for third-party multimedia

Checking for YouTube video captions

  • It may appear that YouTube videos are captioned, but the quality of the captions may not be high enough to be useful.
  • If there is not a closed captions (CC) icon in the control bar, the video is not captioned.
  • If the video has a closed captions (CC) icon - click on the icon to check the captions.
  • Most YouTube videos make use of YouTube's speech recognition software and there is a high likelihood that there will be key words or phrases that are wrong. 
    • If there is no punctuation or capitalization at the start of sentences, you can be assured that the captions are the automatic kind.
    • The Distance Education department and Media Services will assist faculty in finding options to captioning third party videos.