23 July 2020 Blogs

How UNC Greensboro Is Making Streaming Video Accessible to All Learners

Audio-described video, captions and transcriptions are critical for students and faculty of all abilities

Today, ProQuest announced the addition of audio descriptions to its most-watched video titles in Academic Video Online and ProQuest One Academic, making streaming educational video more accessible to visually impaired users. Audio description adds narration to a video, describing its on-screen images for the benefit of those with visual impairments.  

One university who benefits from this service is UNC Greensboro (UNCG). The university is committed to providing high-quality learning experiences to students of all backgrounds and abilities, and accessible streaming video is a huge part of this effort, according to Melanie Eley, Accessibility Coordinator at UNCG.

One way the university ensures this is to caption, transcribe and audio-describe videos for learning within online courses, giving students an alternate way to experience audiovisual content – especially those who may have low vision or be visually impaired, deaf or hard-of-hearing.

In fact, said Eley, everyone can benefit from audio-described video. “Students may view closed captions while in a noisy or very quiet environment,” she said. “Students who are learning English may prefer reading the narration rather than listening, and instructors and staff may find it helpful to pull quotes from video transcripts for their curriculum.”

A Better Solution Through Collaboration

Recently, one of UNCG’s instructors designed a Dance Appreciation course that was fully online. The instructor wanted to stream dance performance videos through Academic Video Online.

ProQuest worked collaboratively with UNCG and a third-party vendor to audio-describe the video files so they could be accessible to students of all abilities, and the experience prompted ProQuest to explore ways to proactively include audio description in all its videos. This direct move towards providing accessible content for all viewers would also eliminate the need for an institution to use a third-party vendor for audio description.

Video to Support Students of All Abilities

By providing UNCG with videos that embed audio description, ProQuest has supported the university in fulfilling its commitment to students of all backgrounds and abilities by helping them learn through multiple modes of media, Eley said.

It also enables UNCG, which is a public entity which receives federal funding, to uphold disability standards such as WCAG 2.1 and requirements of federal laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act (Sections 508 & 504).

“Having videos for certain courses captioned, transcribed and audio-described gives all students the ability to learn from and more fully experience these videos,” said Eley. “Those of us in the accessibility field dream of this. It’s a perfect model for how universities and multimedia providers can work together to produce quality products that are essential for users with different abilities, but useful to all.”

ProQuest has already added audio descriptions to its most popular titles, and will continue to add more upon request by a library.

“Audio description can often be costly, so the fact that ProQuest now offers this service for free is commendable,” Eley said.

Learn more about audio-described video in ProQuest’s news release.

How to Request Audio Description

If you have a student who needs an accommodation, you can request audio description from ProQuest and we’ll work to add it within two weeks at no charge (some limits may apply).