[Athen] VoiceThread Captioning

Hunziker, Dawn A - (hunziker) hunziker at email.arizona.edu
Thu May 11 09:21:16 PDT 2017

Hello everyone,

Based on interest in knowing more about VoiceThread Captioning processing, here's some additional information (sorry for the long email but it's a lot of details!). Feel free to reach out if you'd like to chat more!

Before the semester, we reach out the instructor and request they add us as an editor for all of their initial VoiceThread content/prompts. This typically gives us editor rights on student posts when they respond to the initial prompt. If an instructor does not provide us with editor rights in a timely manner, Disability Services staff have administrator access to the campus VoiceThread component so we can grant appropriate access for our team. Getting the instructor to understand how to give us editor rights can be a little tricky. Thus, the administrator access often comes in handy.

Another note about our permissions: We limit who can request captions which currently includes account administrators and our captioning team members. In cases where instructors are posting content on the weekend and wanting responses before we can caption information on Monday, we grant the instructor rights to request captions, but we double check that it was implemented. Once you integrate captioning services into your VoiceThread account, anyone with access can request captions unless you lock that down. VoiceThread was great in helping us solve this permission piece. While our desire is to caption everything eventually, we are still providing captions for class content on an case-by-case basis.

Once we have editing rights, we use integration services with 3rd party captioning vendors to request captions. This means that when captions are requested, the 3rd party vendors have the ability to add the captions to the VoiceThread post without further intervention from us due to integration setup. It also means that we do not have to download the VoiceThread posts, nor do we need to manually add the caption files to VoiceThread posts. Captioning is all handled through the VoiceThread Interface and 3rd party captioning vendors integrations. https://wp.voicethread.com/howto/closed-captioning/#thirdparty - These integration options are worth every penny you pay for captioning services! We actually set up special/separate accounts with 3rd party captioning vendors that are dedicated to our VoiceThread integration so we could have the default turn-around time established as a "rush" status with every request.

More Details

* You have to monitor posts. We caption instructor VoiceThread prompts all at once if they are pre-loaded. Then the waiting game begins. Once students start replying to an instructor prompt, our team receives an email. This triggers our team to go into the VoiceThread discussion and caption responses. This is tedious because you have to open each response to request captioning and you have to keep checking back for new responses - do not rely on email prompts alone for this process.

* Timing - due to the nature of the VoiceThread as an enhanced discussion tool, we caption content in the 2-8 hour window of time to ensure access as quickly as possible.

* We have outreached to VoiceThread to discuss a solution where we can mark a "project" or specific course content for automatic captioning. This would then automatically handle the captioning for anything tied to that course (a process that happens in our lecture capture solution, Panopto). Status: I need to check back in with VoiceThread on this idea.

Finally, don't forget to talk to instructors about inclusion. If a deaf student is enrolled, how will they contribute to the discussion? If the instructor is requiring a video introduction, asking the deaf student to type an introduction isn't inclusive so we suggest that an instructor open up the option to type a response for the whole class. And, for complete inclusion, we suggest that the deaf student record his response, using ASL with an Interpreter voicing in the background, which is then captioned... We worked with a student and class for this type of response and it worked out great - what an awesome experience for all involved in the course!

Again, if you have additional questions or want to discuss more about our process, we're happy to share information.


Dawn Hunziker
IT Accessibility Consultant

Disability Resource Center
University of Arizona
hunziker at email.arizona.edu<mailto:hunziker at email.arizona.edu>

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