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Grants and Funding Available To Support Your Captioning Efforts

By: Aylin Dunham
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Captioning and transcription are two crucial tools being used to improve students’ success and engagement in education, especially for those with reported disabilities. Educators are using them for course video and live class sessions to help their students study more easily, improve their comprehension and retain more of what they learn. However, many schools are faced with the challenge of securing the proper funding needed to purchase effective solutions.

The good news is that schools and colleges can expect to receive an additional $20 billion in funding in 2022. School leaders who are looking to invest more in captioning and transcription this year benefit from tapping into these public sources of funding, some of which only require a short application process.

Here are some of the top sources of funding that colleges and universities can take advantage of to support their students’ accessibility needs.

American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)

Funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) offers schools great flexibility, giving them the option to purchase many types of services and tools. It allocated nearly $123 billion to the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund in 2022, doubling the amount offered to schools in the CARES Act and Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) combined. ARPA funds are available until December 21, 2024 and can be used to purchase captioning tools for in-class and online learning needs.

For example, the US Department of Education recently distributed $95 million in ARPA funds to Vermont. The grant supports K-12 schools in the state that plan to purchase technologies like captioning to support learning. In total, Vermont’s schools are receiving more than $285 million total in ARPA funds, making it the 51st state to have their funding plans approved since June.

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Distance Education Captioning and Transcription (DECT) Grant

While most programs offer funding for multiple types of tools and services, there is one in California that was specifically made to support schools’ captioning needs. California Community Colleges (CCC) that offer distance learning are eligible for the Distance Education Captioning and Transcription Grant (DECT). This grant provides captioning and transcription funds to help schools enhance accessibility and offer better learning experiences for students across the CCC.

California educators can use this grant to caption these types of courses:

  • Distance learning and online classes
  • Hybrid courses
  • In-person classes that incorporate distance learning methods of content delivery (web conferencing, video, etc)
  • Any class with a student that has a captioning accommodation

When using DECT, educators can also get funding to caption with an approved vendor like AST, which is trusted by the likes of San Mateo College and Citrus College. The process allows schools to either purchase captioning from AST and request reimbursement or complete an application that allows the DECT program to pay AST directly for any captioning service requested.

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State Appropriation Funding

Each year, states allocate a certain percentage of their sales and income tax to support education. Public universities, colleges and K-12 schools can use this state funding to purchase technologies like captioning and transcription. Many higher education leaders are fighting to increase state funding even more, pushing appropriation funds to levels never seen before.

For example, states like Minnesota saw a historic budget surplus, with $7.7 million in extra funding for 2022. Minnesota’s community college system is taking advantage of this surplus by requesting $353 million from the state, while the University of Minnesota requested nearly $1 billion dollars to support students’ needs in different areas, including accessibility.

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Take Advantage of Available Funding Now

While the increase in education funding is a welcome change for many, educators need to think strategically about how and when they use this money. Wisely investing in technologies like captioning can help more students succeed, promote accessible learning and bring about positive change for you and your school.

These sources of funding offer greater opportunities for colleges, universities and K-12 schools to invest in technologies with proven abilities to make their educational delivery plans more efficient, such as AST’s captioning and transcription software which can be used for all three sources of funding.

AST can adapt its offerings to work for the needs of large institutions such as the University of Arizona and smaller ones, such as Chemeketa Community College alike, to arm them with solutions that improve students’ learning and engagement and support equitable learning. Reach out to learn more about our captioning, transcription and audio description and how they can be customized to meet your institution’s needs.