Let ACS and PostCAP help ensure instructional media accessibility


Did you know that it is not just professors lecturing and the videos they show in a classroom that need captions, so that persons who are deaf and hard of hearing can understand what is being said?  ANY media used by your institution on its website or in its distance learning portal must be accessible to students who are deaf and hard of hearing…regardless of whether or not students with hearing loss specifically make a request.  Think of how your institution makes its buildings accessible to persons who use wheelchairs without waiting for a specific request for wheelchair access.  In the same way,  your instructional content needs to be accessible to people who are deaf and hard of hearing.

It is sometimes erroneously believed that making media accessible is optional or at the discretion of whether or not the school believes it can afford captioning.  You might want to re-think that.  February 12, 2015, the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) filed federal class action complaints against two of our nation’s most prestigious institutions of higher learning. The lawsuits allege these two institutions discriminate against persons who are deaf and hard of hearing because their online instructional content is either not captioned, or captioned so poorly as to not support equal access to understanding its meaning. NAD alleged this lack of captioning deprives 48 million Americans who are deaf and hard-of-hearing of the same educational opportunities as those who can hear. The suits also alleged lack of captioning violates Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title III of the ADA.

So, how in the WORLD does an educational institution caption the instructional media it has in its digital library? Most institutions lack the number of people necessary to complete such a task.  Fortunately, a post-production captioning vendor, chosen wisely, can do it for you.  The trick is to choose the right captioning agency for your institution’s needs. 

T.J. DiGrazia, Operations Manager of Alternative Communication Services (ACS) LLC and owner of its post-production captioning sister company, PostCAP LLC, presented on this  very topic last summer at the Association of Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) Annual Conference in Sacramento, CA.  T.J’s presentation was so enthusiastically received that AHEAD interviewed him for an in-depth follow up discussion published in the October 2014 issue of Disability Compliance for Higher Ed.

For more detail, you may view an electronic copy of the article published in September 2014 by clicking on this link


T.J. suggested you educate yourself on the following before speaking with vendors:

  1. Determine your institution’s internal policies on captioning online videos and DVD’s.  Document your efforts to secure written permissions to caption copyrighted material.
  2. Educate yourself about the post-production captioning process and the key terms captioning vendors are likely to use: open captioning vs closed captioning, roll-on versus pop-up captions, captions versus subtitles, types of audio files, standards for captioning (synchrony, placement, accuracy, and completeness), time codes, and so on.
  3. Trusted sources for acquiring this background information such as Alternative Communication Services, PostCAP, PEPNet.org
  4. Understand how vendors determine cost

Once you understand the basics, T.J. said you are ready to interview vendors.  All vendors are not created equal.  These are the key questions you want your vendor to answer to your satisfaction:

  1. Determine the vendor’s per-minute pricing as well as any minimum lengths imposed with that pricing
  2. Ask what you will receive…will it be the finished product (captioned video) or just a captioning file you will then have to combine with the video on your end
  3. Find out how the media files will be exchanged between you and your captioning vendor
  4. See if there are any ways you can cut costs without sacrificing communication access
  5. Request the vendor to demonstrate by captioning a five-minute video for free.  Walk away if they balk.

Alternative Communication Services and its sister company PostCAP LLC have been helping entities with their digital media for a long time. They will be happy to answer any questions you might have. For more information, you may contact T.J. DiGrazia at info@postcapllc.com

 Disability Compliance for Higher Education article cited in this blog:

(2014), Using post-production captioning vendor can help you ensure media accessibility. Disability Comp. Higher Ed., 20: 1, 4-5. doi: 10.1002/dhe.20082

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