Accessibility

Lack of Awareness, Budget Are Key Barriers to Captioning Videos

More than half of respondents (55.3 percent) in a recent survey cited lack of general awareness as the top reason they are not captioning all videos at their institution. And at 48.9 percent of respondents' institutions, a captioning budget simply doesn't exist.

Those findings and more came out of a national study conducted by the Oregon State University Ecampus Research Unit in collaboration with 3Play Media. The researchers collected data from 47 higher education institutions across the United states to explore how they handle closed captioning of instructional videos as well as videos used for institutional purposes (such as promotional materials). About 80 percent of the respondents came from public colleges and universities, with 20 percent coming from private institutions; the majority of institutions were universities that offer bachelor's and advanced degrees.

The top 10 captioning barriers revealed by the study:

  • Lack of general awareness (55.3%);
  • A budget doesn't exist (48.9%);
  • Staffing is inadequate (46.8%);
  • Unclear whose responsibility it is (46.8%);
  • Don't have buy-in of administration to caption videos (42.6%);
  • It's too time consuming (40.4%);
  • It's too expensive (38.3%);
  • Faculty won't do it (38.3%);
  • Currently not an institutional priority (31.9%); and
  • We weren't aware it was something that should be done (17.0%).

Most respondents (87 percent) said that their institution captions at least some videos, but only a handful of them caption all videos. Yet about 81 percent said they were "confident" or "very confident" that they understand federal and state accessibility regulations around closed captioning. Fifty-one percent said their institutions are required to proactively caption all videos, but just 17 percent said they were "meeting" or "exceeding" legal requirements. More than half of respondents admitted their institutions do not monitor compliance with captioning regulations, and 20 percent were not sure if they monitor compliance. 

"What this is telling us is that although the closed captioning of all videos may seem to be relatively simple in practice, it is not simple for many of the institutions that responded to the survey. They seem to be struggling to get all of their videos proactively captioned," said Katie Linder, director of the OSU Ecampus Research Unit and author of the study, in a prepared statement.

The study found that institutions are motivated to implement captioning for a variety of reasons, with legal requirements topping the list. The top five motivations cited:

  • To be in compliance with the law (78.7%);
  • To avoid potential litigation (74.5%);
  • In response to accommodation requests (70.2%);
  • To support the needs of all learners (61.7%); and
  • To create a learning environment that is aligned with the mission of the institution (42.6%).

The full report, including information on institutions' captioning procedures, budgets, stakeholder involvement and more, is available for free download from the 3Play Media site (registration required).

About the Author

About the author: Rhea Kelly is executive editor for Campus Technology. She can be reached at rkelly@1105media.com.

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