It doesn’t take much to get me excited, but it takes a lot to get me fired up. #CreateAccessibility has gotten me fired up, and I’m taking action! 

I recently returned home from the Google Innovation Academy (read more here), where I worked with 35 other amazing educators, 6 coaches, 4 program mangers, and many more Google employees and Innovators. The main purpose of the three intense days is to put together a project to solve a problem in education. I’ll share more on my project in the future, but right now I want to focus on my friend Melissa Oliver‘s project. 

Create Accessibility

Melissa’s project, Create Accessibility, is centered around making online content accessible to all learners and all humans. Melissa says, “The one [COL16 takeaway] that feels the most urgent is the realization that If I want an accessible environment, I must create it. I can no longer wait for technology to be invented or perfected to make things accessible. I can no longer wait for policies or laws mandating accessibility guidelines within the online environment. I can no longer expect people or organizations to utilize universal design principles.” She hopes to empower students and teachers to caption their own videos, which benefits not only Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, but also all our learners. I’m definitely not an auditory learner, and I’ve found captions very helpful when watching informational videos.

When we were accepted to #COL16, Melissa messaged me and told me that there were some humorous errors in my auto-captions. (I forgot to get a screenshot, but I’m pretty sure “butthead” was in there somewhere.) I went in and fixed my captions, but then didn’t think much else about it.

Just like Melissa mentions in her blog post “Curb Cuts, Captions, and Universal Design,” we don’t notice curb cuts (the small ramps in the sidewalk that allow us to move from sidewalk to street), until we have a need for them. The same thing is true with video captions. Captioning is not something in the forefront of my mind–until now.

So what am I going to do about this?

I’ll be honest, adding in captions takes time. And when I’m making a flipped video or quick tutorial for my students or teachers, I know I’m not going to want to stop and add in captions. But, I realize how essential this is to making my online content accessible to all, so it’s worth it. Please keep me accountable, especially once the school year gets busy.

I tried out the “transcribe and auto-sync” feature on YouTube (go to your video > “subtitles & cc” > select language > select method > “transcribe and auto-sync”). For an almost 5 minute video, it took me about 20 minutes to transcribe and check my captions. My favorite part of this feature is that I can set the video to automatically pause when I start typing. I would listen to a couple seconds, then start typing what I hear. When I was done, YouTube auto-synced my captions to the audio. It was easy!

Transcribing my “Quizzes in Google Forms!” YouTube video
Double checking my auto-synced captions before publishing.

Watch my accessible video here. Remember to turn on the captions!

I challenge you all. Go to your YouTube channel, find your shortest video, and try out the “transcribe and auto-sync” captioning feature. 

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