[Athen] captioning

Sean J Keegan skeegan at stanford.edu
Fri Feb 19 14:30:30 PST 2010

> We are in the process of developing some
> policies regarding captioning of media,
> and wanted to find out how some other
> campuses are handling it.
> Do you outsource it?

It depends. If the materials need to be done very fast (e.g., 24-48hr
turnaround) and is a non-Web based format, then we will most likely
outsource. Also, if the video is a foreign language, or in a recent
case, heavily accented British English slang, then we outsource. Our
office coordinates the captioning process if it is intended as an
accommodation (e.g., specific student for specific class). This is
usually coordinated either through myself or our Accommodations
Coordinator. We have used a few different transcription companies for
the outsourcing part, particularly when we need the materials back in a
very specific file format (e.g., DVD, VHS, QuickTime/Windows Media
movie, etc.).

In terms of software, I use several depending on the final output. Most
of the work I see is already in a digital format, so I tend to use
MAGpie (free) and MovCaptioner (low-cost). If you have money, then
CPC's MacCaption or CaptionMaker software will do just about any format.
It is good to review the type of video materials your institution is
predominately using as it may also be cheaper to outsource the
captioning of some content than to purchase whole racks of equipment. I
know some institutions who had VHS tape they wanted captioned, but were
also moving to DVDs. It was far cheaper to just purchase captioned DVDs
than to go through the captioning process.

In terms of how we address captioning right now, our office, in
collaboration with the Stanford Online Accessibility Project (SOAP),
built a Web-based system to facilitate the process of getting video
content captioned, particularly for Web-based video. This was initially
a pilot project aimed at converting video into Web-ready formats as well
as delivering caption files. The transcript process was outsourced to
transcription companies and the captioning system then used the
transcripts to automatically synchronize the video and transcript. If a
staff member already had a prepared transcript, then that could be
loaded into the system and the time-stamping would be done at no cost.

The idea of the project was to give the University a means that
coordinated the outsourcing and creation of captioned materials in
Web-friendly formats "semi-autonomously". We did not want one person to
have to manually handle each transaction or to do the actual
time-stamping, so we built a Web system to handle that part for us.

A presentation from Accessing Higher Ground is online:
http://captioning.stanford.edu/presentations/ (best viewed using Opera

In terms of captioning policies, my suggestion would be to develop
practices and processes before the policy. Too often I have seen
colleges develop a "captioning policy" that creates the situation where
faculty, staff, etc. abandon the use of media altogether (or just ignore
getting the video captioned) because the policy is so restrictive or so
removed from actual practices that it becomes near impossible to comply.

Take care,

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