Webinar: Ensemble Video Accessibility

This webinar provides background for Syracuse University staff on how to make your Ensemble Video content as accessible as possible.

Note: The following video should be considered an alternative to the Annotated Transcript, which contains descriptions of visual references in the media. Also, the pages listed in the Resources section are primarily text-based, and will be useful to those who do not have access to the visual content.


Annotated Video Transcript

>> Hello everyone. The topic of this webinar is how to make your Ensemble Video content as accessible as possible.

My name is Art Morgan, and I’m VP of partner development here at AST. Kevin Erler will also join me for the question and answer session. I work with our partners, which are mainly online video platforms and educational technology providers, to help make the process of providing high quality closed captioning faster and easier. We also focus on some things that traditional closed captioning vendors don’t focus on, including how to make your video players more accessible, and how to leverage video and multimedia more effectively in ways that are consistent with Universal Design principles.

The specific platform that we’ll cover today is Ensemble Video. Many of you may already use Ensemble, but for those who have not been exposed to it I want to review first some of the advantages of using Ensemble to manage your videos, both from a learner’s perspective and from the perspective of an instructor or staff member. Next we’ll cover how to set up the Ensemble closed captioning integration, and the options for requesting captions. Finally, we’ll review a few other factors to keep in mind in order to make your videos as accessible as possible, and how Ensemble can help in that area.

From the learner perspective there are several things that are appealing about Ensemble. First, the video player that comes with Ensemble is very flexible. For example, it’s responsive to a variety of screen sizes, and can be used on mobile devices and tablets.

Another thing that learners really like is the search feature. The caption content is indexed, so students can search for a specific point in a video that contains a key term. Similarly, Ensemble has a feature that allows you to speed up the playback of the video, or slow it down, and many students love that feature because it lets them adjust the pace to one that works best for their particular learning style, which may vary based on the content or their existing knowledge of the content.

This a benefit of recorded video in general, but many students like the fact that they can access an Ensemble video library at all times of day, no matter where they are. Finally, I wanted to note that Ensemble also now has a live streaming option, which can be useful for courses where some of the students are not on campus. As you may know, AST offers real-time captioning services in addition to post-production captioning services, and we have tested our real-time captioning with Ensemble’s live streaming feature.

From an instructor and staff perspective, one of the biggest benefits of using Ensemble is that it can serve as a secure, private campus video portal, without all the privacy concerns, ads, cute cat videos, and other distractions that your students might find on YouTube. It also allows instructors to create libraries and playlists that are for a specific course or section of the course.

Other things that are benefits for instructors and staff include Ensemble’s analytics features – an instructor can see how many times students have viewed certain videos, for example – and also the Ensemble LTI integration makes it easy for instructors or staff to select videos that have been recorded in or uploaded to Ensemble, and embed them or link to them on specific course pages or menus in your LMS.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly for this audience, the easy-to-use CaptionSync captioning options in Ensemble can save a huge amount of time for instructors and staff. I’m showing on this slide one of the admin menus from Ensemble, which has options for organizing videos, enabling live streaming, and enabling the caption features.

So let’s discuss the captioning process for Ensemble next. To provide some context before going into details, on this slide I am showing a diagram that shows three circles, representing Ensemble, CaptionSync, and a transcriber. The first circle says video platform, which in this case is Ensemble. Ensemble pushes a video to CaptionSync for captioning. CaptionSync routes the video to an appropriate professional transcriber, and then the transcript created by that transcriber is converted into a caption file, and finally that caption file is pushed from CaptionSync back to the Ensemble platform and associated with the original video. That’s what we refer to as the round-trip captioning integration.

To make this work, there is a one-time setup process, but it’s very simple. I’m showing here the form in Ensemble that your Ensemble administrator will fill out. It has only a few required fields, and I’ll walk through them. First, you provide a descriptive name for the captioning profile. Keep in mind that you can set up multiple CaptionSync captioning profiles, so you’ll want to give each profile a meaningful name. For example, if you have one CaptionSync account for your engineering school and another for the business school, you could create two separate profiles. Ensemble generates an encryption key for you, which you’ll copy and paste into a corresponding field on the CaptionSync account. Once you’ve done that, you can come back to this screen in Ensemble and click “Test,” which will test the connection to make sure the two platforms can connect securely.

There are a couple of optional fields that are sometimes useful. The first is PO Number. CaptionSync accounts can be configured to require a purchase order, and each purchase order can have a dollar limit and an expiration date. If your CaptionSync account is set up for POs, you can enter the PO number or name here in the profile, and then give access to this profile to the appropriate users in Ensemble.

Finally, there’s an optional field that says “Allow Rush Orders.” If you check that box before saving the profile, then users who have access to this captioning profile will have an option to request one day turnaround when they request captions. One day turnaround costs a little more than two day and four day turnaround, and some groups like to restrict that option only to certain people.

Now let’s talk about how to request that a video be captioned. I’m showing the screen in Ensemble where you request captions for a video. To get here you click Edit for the video, then select the Caption tab, and then Submit to Captioning Service.

By default the description is the title of the video, and usually you’ll want to leave that as is, but you can change it. There is also a Notes to Transcriber field. We talked about this field a bit in the previous webinar, but let us know if you have any questions about how to use that field.

Once you’ve submitted the video for captioning this tab shows the status of the request. Initially it will say Submitted, then once we’ve received the video in CaptionSync it will change to Awaiting Transcription, and ultimately it will update to Captioning Completed. Once captions have been added, the video thumbnails in your libraries will have the CC icon, making it easy to scan for videos that are not yet captioned.

The last few points relate again to the Ensemble player. Ensemble has done a good job of paying attention to other accessibility features when developing their player, such as keyboard controls and screen reader compatibility. We’ve mentioned audio description in past webinars, and it’s worth pointing out that Ensemble has a method of adding audio descriptions as well as annotations to videos. Note though that the Ensemble audio description feature only allows for standard audio description, which typically is not sufficient for educational videos with dense dialog. We’re happy to answer questions about audio description options.

One feature that I really like in Ensemble, which most video players don’t have, is that administrators can configure the players so that they have captions on by default. Research has shown that viewers understand and retain content better if they watch videos with high-quality captions than if they watch without captions, so you might want to have that option turned on for the benefit of your students. I’ll include a link to some of that research in the Resources section.

The final point is that using full-featured video players like this makes it much easier to employ Universal Design for Learning principles. With players that have an interactive transcript and search feature you can present multiple representations of the content, and allow for multiple methods of engagement with the content. I’m showing a screenshot of the Ensemble interactive transcript on this slide.

That’s want we wanted to cover today. We have all of these links on the Resources section of the blog page for this webinar, and if you’re setting up the Ensemble closed captioning integration and need any assistance, feel free to reach out to our support team at support@automaticsync.com.


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