Captions, Transcripts Provide a More Inclusive Learning Experience 

By: Verbit Editorial
student on a computer smiling

According to Disabled Students UK, a student-led advocacy group, students with disabilities face accessibility issues at schools and universities that make their experience qualitatively different from students without disabilities. The group cites a 2020 report from University College London that found 58% of students with disabilities had been made to feel unwelcome at the university due to their disability. 

“The outcomes of the situation are damning,” the group says. “The Office for National Statistics data shows the proportion of disabled people who have a degree is almost half of the proportion of non-disabled people, a situation that has not improved over the last 9 years.” 

The Equality Act of 2010 protects individuals’ civil rights regardless of gender, sex, age, religion, political affiliation, disability, marriage status or sexual orientation, and requires employers make “reasonable adjustments” to accommodate people with disabilities. These accessibility requirements extend to schools and universities. However, Disabled Students UK says there often is a difference between what the law says and what schools and universities have in place.  

Below are a few simple ways that captions, transcripts and audio description can help accommodate students with disabilities. 

Access for All 

In today’s education environment, it’s increasingly important to provide students with as many resources as possible. Thankfully, in many schools and universities, technology has found a place in the classroom over the last decade. Gone are the transparencies and overhead projectors and in their place are student laptops and interactive smart boards. 

Though student learning environments can change, the accessibility of those learning spaces should not. In-class captions and captioned video instruction, transcripts and audio description can help make classrooms and course materials accessible to all students. 

student in a classroom smiling

Captions in the Classrooms 

First and foremost, captions provide a critical link to education, entertainment, news and emergency information for the Deaf and hard-of-hearing community. They make audio and audiovisual materials accessible for millions of people and help satisfy accessibility rules and regulations. 

In addition to making content accessible for students who are Deaf or hard of hearing, studies have shown, and schools have found, that adding captions to live lectures, prerecorded videos and other digital content improves comprehension, engagement, retention and the overall learning experience for all students and not just those requiring accessible content. They also can be a valuable tool for teachers looking to address the diverse learning needs of all students and can be helpful for instructors looking to differentiate their lessons. 

A study conducted by San Francisco State University provided video learning materials with captions to one group of students and the same video materials without captions to another. The students given the captioned materials were found to be more engaged and responsive to questions and demonstrated an improvement of one full grade point versus those students who did not view the captioned content. 

Another survey showed a nearly 10% increase in recall accuracy in students viewing captioned content versus those learning without captions. 

Captions also enable students to take their online video homework anywhere. Walk into a busy coffee shop or café and you’re likely to find students working on their laptops. These typically aren’t the quietest of environments, but adding captions to online course materials means that students can study and learn (or, let’s be honest, watch the latest viral cat video) in even the noisiest of locations. 

They also are beneficial to those learning English as a Second Language (ESL). Captions give ESL students the opportunity to review confusing materials or reference difficult or complex terms that they may have had trouble translating without a written reference. 

students in a library with a teacher

Transcripts in the Classroom 

Captions provide the added benefit of transcripts. Teachers can share a transcript of the captioned video, enabling students to read along in class, take notes and have a printed study guide handy to review later or share with friends who missed the class. 

Further embracing technology, some schools are enhancing student learning with Gen.V, Verbit’s new generative AI tool. Gen.V quickly analyzes a transcript, extracts key information and provides automatic summarizations, keyword and SEO highlights and headline suggestions. With Gen.V, students gain even greater value and insights from their Verbit-produced transcripts. 

Audio Description in the Classroom 

Much as captions provide a visual way for individuals who are Deaf or hard-of-hearing to experience sound, audio description provides an audio means for people who are blind or with low vison to experience video. 

The service inserts audio-narrated descriptions of a video’s key visual elements, such as onscreen actions, characters, costumes and text appearing in graphics in the video, into natural pauses between the program’s dialogue. 

And like captions, adding audio description to video course materials can provide an additional resource to students, help them focus on the material, increase in-class engagement and offer another way for teachers to connect. 

Rely on Us 

Verbit serves as a trusted partner for all university transcription and captioning needs. Our access solutions are designed to increase student engagement and serve disability requirements for both live courses and recorded media. Contact us today for more information.