The Accessibility Field is Changing
For educational institutions planning for the next school year, accessibility practices for online video are one of the top concerns when creating an action plan, and many universities are beginning to develop Equally Effective Alternative Access Plans (EEAAP) to address this concern. While the prevalence of accessibility features in video content is growing, there are still many video platforms that do not have advanced accessibility features, and some with little to no accessibility features at all. In addition to this, the upsurge in online video content has made managing a high case load of closed captioning and audio description content difficult for large scale educational systems.
Due to this growing need, it is essential for educational institutions to examine their video accessibility practices every year, especially with regards to its legal implications. Accessibility practices are constantly changing, including the legal mandates concerning accessibility. All post-secondary educational institutions are now required to comply with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which include regulations for creating accessible video content.
How to Address the Changes
Despite these legal implications, many educational institutions still have a backlog of online video content hosted in older, less accessible platforms. While efforts are being made to caption, describe, and make a transition to accessible platforms, many institutions struggle to meet accessibility requirements in a reasonable time frame.
If your institution uses a platform, technology, or software that is not fully accessible, you might consider developing an Equally Effective Alternative Access Plan (EEAAP) for individuals seeking equal access to video material. If it is not technically possible to make a platform or software fully accessible within a reasonable time frame and before access is needed, providing alternative access in a timely manner will ensure that all students and individuals using video content will have fair and equal access for the time being. An EEAAP is a useful tool that can be used while institutions are still adapting accessibility practices.
An EEAP can and should be created in line with the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Principles. UDL places value on providing multiple means of engagement and representation, reducing learning barriers, and creating multiple streams of access. Creating an EEAAP can help learners everywhere, and it can be useful when applied correctly in your online video workflow. Furthermore, it also ensures that all individuals involved in accessibility practices are being held accountable, making sure that they are aware of the importance of accessibility in education.
On a basic level, an EEAAP should include details about the accessibility issue and the game plan for addressing and providing alternative means of access.
The following are some of the most important factors in creating an EEAAP. However, each EEAAP is different and may need to be adapted to fit the needs of the individual or group in question:
- Describe the Accessibility Issue: What part of the video content, software, and platform is inaccessible? For example, can captions and audio description be added to videos on the platform for those who need them for access? If audio description can be added, can the platform handle extended audio description (in many cases educational video content requires extended audio description to be equally effective)? Are the video player controls compliant with WCAG 2 Level AA guidelines (sufficient contrast, keyboard controllable, etc.)?
- Describe who will be affected: Will students, staff, or the general public be using the material?
- Provide details about how the EEAAP will be provided: What alternate platforms, software, or other technology will be used? Will you use third-party vendors?
- Explain how you will address unforeseen events: If an issue comes up without notice, how will you implement an accessible alternative? Provide a possible timeline of planning, implementation, and follow-up.
EEAAP Resource for Video Providers
Considering online video is at the forefront of accessibility discussions, we thought it would be useful to create an example of an EEAAP for Online Video for your reference.
We hope you will consider EEAAPs in your accessibility goals this year. If you need any help getting started with video accessibility, please reach out to us! We are happy to help.
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