The Three P’s of Accessibility

Technical and pedagogical considerations for creating accessible video

Do you find it difficult to know just how to make your classes truly accessible? Are you struggling to know where to start? Join the club.

This web seminar covered both the technical and pedagogical considerations for creating accessible video. Presenters outlined some planning considerations and efficient ways of sharing accessible instructional video, as well as the step-by-step processes that will help ensure that your video is both effective and accessible. The discussion also covered technical basics including lighting, audio, captioning and suggestions on how to implement Universal Design of Learning, and the 3P’s of creating accessible instructional videos.

Ian Wilkinson

Education Projects Specialist

Texas Tech University

Dr. Luft and I started working together a couple of years ago and realized we each have something to learn from the other. I’m a technician. Dr. Luft is a great expert in online accessibility. And we started working on captioning and general accessibility for the campus.

One of the things we’ve discovered is there are two main types of video: passive and interactive. A lot of studies show that passive video is not very helpful for our learners, because they just sit there. You wouldn’t read a book if somebody just turned the pages for you at an uncontrolled pace. That’s not useful. So video has become more interactive now. Studies show that the interactive video is much more effective for learners. People can go back and watch things over and over again, using indexed content and that sort of thing.

Jackie L. Luft, Ed.D.

Accessibility Specialist

Texas Tech Worldwide eLearning

Lecture capture is typically when an instructor is in a classroom recording their lecture. One of the difficulties with that is you sometimes cannot hear the instructor. Maybe the instructor is way back in the classroom and the audio is not very good. This becomes difficult to caption later on. And if a student in the audience asks a question, sometimes the question cannot be heard on the video, especially if the instructor does not repeat the question. Another issue is that a lot of times in a class, the instructor spends a few minutes doing housekeeping—like assignment reminders and relaying subject-area news—and these things aren’t necessarily needed in an online classroom, where they might not be relevant three years from now.

The other type of video in a classroom is instructional video. That’s where an instructor sits down with maybe Mediasite, and they record the lecture right there. They may have slides that go along with it, or they’re doing some screencasting and talking about it. These take a great deal of planning—or, the three P’s for creating instructional videos at your desk: Plan, Produce and Publish.

The first is to Plan. A lot of people see planning and scripting as a burden, especially if they’re a busy instructor. But you do need to plan and script your instructional video like you’re making a Hollywood production. Think about your set—what’s behind you. Think about your costumes—what you’re wearing. Our students are used to seeing highly produced, very polished content, so if your stuff comes off as less polished, you may not get your message across quite as well.

Ian: Thanks to the analytics we have available to us, we see that long videos are watched a lot less than short videos. This falls in line with what we know about TED Talks and YouTube videos and things we see on other social media. Our viewers tend to tune out after about 6 or 7 minutes. So break things up into small, bit-sized nuggets. People appreciate having that just-in-time information instead of having to wade through an hour of content for the 2 or 3 minutes they actually need. Also, it’s easier to caption and edit shorter videos.

Jackie: Closed captions is the known thing to do for accessibility in videos. There are different types of captions. There are synchronized captions, which is the federal regulation—you have a timestamp, and the words on the screen have to be identical to what is being said live. There’s also live captioning, which is what you watch on the evening news. That’s not always accurate because someone’s typing what is being said. So you want to make sure, if you’re creating videos, that you have synchronized captions. There’s also open and closed captions. Most people know about closed captions, which means you can turn them on and off. Open captions are actually burned on and cannot be turned off.

Another thing that isn’t noticed very often is audio description. Basically, it’s when you describe what’s visually happening on the screen. This includes describing words on your slide and anything that’s being demonstrated. This is helpful for people with visual disabilities, and is a federal regulation.

Ian: The second step we have is Producing. Making your instructional video is like a wedding: A lot of planning goes into a very short ceremony, and there are long-term consequences. How well you do your planning affects how the production goes and then how the happily-ever-after goes.

Be mindful of background and clothing. Think about lighting. Be sure you have a camera with optical zoom, not digital zoom. Use a tripod and practice using the camera. And I’m a big advocate for microphones. People come to me and say they have $10,000 for a camera, and I say spend $2,000 on a camera and the other $8,000 on microphones and mixers. People forget audio because it’s invisible. But we all know if it sounds nice, we’ll listen and we get a lot out of it. Also, getting good audio is very essential for captioning.

Finally, Publishing is how you deliver your content to your audience. You want to be sure, before you make it available, that you’ve edited for length and for content. Especially if you’re doing a lecture capture, you definitely want to trim out unnecessary conversation.

Something almost nobody likes to do is watch themselves on video, but it’s important to watch your video several times so that you’re familiar with what works, what doesn’t work, what you want to change for next time, and to know that you are delivering a quality product for your learners. It’s going to save you time in the long run. It feels like it’s a lot of time upfront, and it is, but you’ll be glad that you did this.

To watch this web seminar in its entirety, visit


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