Federal Rules Require Online Videos to Comply with Accessibility Laws

Accessibility lawsIt’s more important than ever to add captions to videos to reach more people with learning disabilities.  They make up almost 20% of the US population.

If you’re an educator, it’s likely that you have taught a student with a disability. Educators who have added closed or open captioning on their videos have a higher rate of reaching all students.

If you’re creating online videos, you may need to check to see if you’re complying with US accessibility laws.  These federal laws were implemented in January 2018. They require online videos and audio files to have closed captioning or transcriptions.

What does this mean?

As an educator, you’ll need to take that extra step to ensure accurate closed captioning on your videos. If audio files are a part of your learning toolkit, you’re required to add transcriptions.

This is required for all new and existing content. A good rule of thumb is to incorporate closed captioning or transcriptions in your creation process moving forward. As for older videos, there are easy ways to incorporate captions. It may be a tedious process but we’ve added several links below to help you with the process.

Who does this affect?

Remote Learning at homeAlmost everyone. It’s outlined under Title II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act which includes just about every public entity including government offices, hotels, religious organizations, and schools. Under these Acts, the rules apply across all aspects of learning including online information and programming services.

Videos that are accessible and follow federal rules are called 508-compliant.

How do I know if my videos are meeting accessibility requirements?

For video content to be accessible, the student must fully understand what is happening in both visual and audio portions of the video.

If a student doesn’t understand the message in either the video or audio sections, the video is not accessible.

How do I make my videos accessible?

There are three elements to video accessibility:

  1. Captions – The audio portions must have captions text that follows the visual aspects of your video. This gives access to people who are either hearing impaired or deaf.
  2. Audio Transcriptions – These are descriptions of the video’s visual elements giving people who are blind or visually impaired access to the information.
  3. 508-Compliant Video Player – Gives a person the ability to use keyboard navigation or an assistive device so they can navigate the video player.

Screencast-O-Matic Captioning Tools

Thousands of educators have turned to Screencast-O-Matic to create engaging online tutorials, lessons, or class videos. Screencast-O-Matic provides easy-to-use content creation tools to help create accessible videos for students.

There are four ways to caption videos with Screencast-O-Matic’s content creation platform.

  1. Upload a Captions File – You can upload a standard captions file (.sbv or .srt format) (Available to all users)
  2. Interactive Captions Editor – This gives you the ability to type in your captions. (Available to Deluxe or Premier users)
  3. Speech-to-Text – The captions tool automatically generates captions for your video by picking up your audio narration. (Available to Deluxe, Premier, or Team users)
  4. Stories – If you create a video with the Stories tool, your captions are automatically created from your script. (Available to Deluxe, Premier, or Team users)

Here is a quick video to show you how to add captions to your videos:

Additional links to know:

GSA Government-wide Section 508 Accessibility Program  https://www.section508.gov/content/learn/laws-and-policies

United State Access Board

Digital Gov: 508 Accessible Videos – How to Make Them