Case Study: Hard of Hearing

Ms. Martinez, Online student who is hard of hearing

Ms. Martinez is taking several distance learning courses in physics. She is 62 years old, and has been hard of hearing since birth. She can hear some sounds but not enough to understand all speech, so she learned sign language in addition to written language. She had little trouble with the curriculum until the university upgraded their online material to a multimedia approach, using an extensive collection of audio lectures. For classroom based lectures the university provided sign language interpreters and CART writers (professionals’ typing what is being said verbatim). However, for web-based instruction, they initially did not realize that accessibility was an issue, then said they had no idea how to provide the material in accessible format.

With the help of a local disability organization, Ms. Martinez was able to point out that the university was clearly covered by a policy requiring accessibility of online educational material. She was also able to point to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) as a resource providing guidance on how to make websites accessible, including those with multimedia content.

The university had the audio-only lectures (no video) transcribed and made these transcripts available through their website along with audio files. For multimedia presentations that include video and audio, the university provides captioning of the audio. Ms. Martinez uses a media player that displays these captions directly below the video so that she can better understand the context of what is being said.

Through this process the university discovered many more benefits of transcripts and captions. For instance, it was much easier to comprehensively index the accessible multimedia resources and provide them in the search engine of the website. They also found they can provide captions in other languages to support international students, students who could not download or play the audio, and many more.

Our questions to you are:

  • If Ms. Martinez visits your website, would she be able watch videos and audio?
  • Would she bookmark you, for future reference and purchases?
  • Does your website support captions and transcripts?

Case Study from: The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
Our Questions from: IceWeb Solutions’ Staff