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Webinar Series: Mediasite Captioning and Accessibility

By: Art Morgan

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This webinar provides details on how to set up and use the Mediasite captioning workflow integration, as well as several other important accessibility features of Mediasite by Sonic Foundry.

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 caption video in Mediasite from Sonic Foundry.

My name is Art Morgan, and I’m VP of partner development here at AST.  I work with our partners, which are mainly online video platforms and educational technology providers, to help make closed captioning your educational video 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 leverage video and multimedia more effectively in ways that are consistent with Universal Design principles.

The specific platform that we’ll cover today is Mediasite, from Sonic Foundry.  Many of you may already use Mediasite, but for those who have not been exposed to it I want to review first some of the advantages of using Mediasite 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 Mediasite closed captioning integration, and the various 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 Mediasite can help in that area.

From the learner perspective there are several things that are appealing about Mediasite. First, the video player that comes with Mediasite is very flexible. For example, if Mediasite was used to record both slides and a video of the instructor, the learner can decide whether she wants video of the slides larger, or whether she wants the video frame of the instructor larger. Focusing on the instructor could be useful for example if you are lip reading or if you are a language learner and you’re learning new vocabulary and how to pronounce those words. I’m showing here a screenshot of the Mediasite player on a laptop, with the view of the instructor largest, and two supplemental screens occupying a smaller portion of the screen.

Another thing that learners really like is the search feature. All of the caption content is indexed, so students can search for a specific point in a video, or in a set of videos, that contains a key term. Similarly, Mediasite 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.

Many students also really like the fact that it’s easy to view Mediasite content on mobile devices, and that they can access it at all times of day, no matter where they are. Finally, I wanted to note that Mediasite also 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 now offers live captioning, or CART services, which could be used with Mediasite video that is streamed live.

From an instructor and staff perspective, one of the biggest benefits is that it makes it easy to record high-quality video.  Once the cameras and recording devices are set up for a classroom, all the instructor needs to do is connect their computer and put on the microphone.  The recording can be scheduled to start and stop at certain times and days.

There’s also an option in Mediasite that allows instructors to record video directly from their laptops without any special hardware, and they can even upload video that they created using other tools, like Camtasia or QuickTime. This allows you to turn Mediasite into a campus video portal, without all the privacy concerns, ads, cute cat videos, and other distractions that you would find on YouTube. It also allows instructors to create playlists, or channels, that are for a specific course or section of the course. The screenshot that I’m showing here shows precisely that concept: a set of videos, each with a thumbnail image and a description of the topic, which could be created for a specific class, and exposed only to that class.

Other things that are benefits for instructors and staff include Mediasite’s analytics features – an instructor can see which students have viewed certain videos, for example – and also the Mediasite LTI integration makes it easy for instructors or staff to select videos that have been recorded or uploaded to Mediasite 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 captioning options in Mediasite can save a huge amount of time for instructors and staff.

So let’s discuss the captioning process for Mediasite next. To provide some context before I go into details, on this slide I am showing a diagram that shows three circles, representing Mediasite, CaptionSync, and a transcriber. The first circle says video platform, which in this case is Mediasite. Mediasite 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 Mediasite 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 Mediasite that your Mediasite administrator will fill out.  It has only five fields, and I’ll walk through it. First, you provide a name and description for this “transcription profile,” as Mediasite calls them.  Keep in mind that you can set up multiple CaptionSync transcription 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 transcription profiles.  For template, you’ll choose Automatic Sync Technologies, and then you’ll enter the CaptionSync username. Then you’ll select Generate New Key, and click Add.  This gives you an Encryption Key, 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 Mediasite and click “Test,” which will test the connection to make sure the two platforms can connect securely.

Now let’s talk about how to request that a video or sets of videos be captioned. I’m showing the screen in Mediasite where you can request captions for an individual video, and will walk through it. First you navigate to the presentation’s summary page. From there, select Manage Content, and Add Delivery in the pull-down menu.

Now I’m showing the Mediasite screen that you’re taken to after selecting Add Delivery. You just click the checkbox labeled Audio Transcriptions, select the appropriate Transcription Profile and whether you want one-day processing, and when you click Save the video will be sent to CaptionSync for captioning.

The process is almost exactly the same for requesting a whole folder of videos, with the only difference being that instead of making the request from an individual presentation page, you just right click the folder that you want to caption, and then follow the same selection steps.

You can even do this for scheduled recordings by adding a captioning “delivery” to a recording schedule or template. This is what most schools do when they have a student with a hearing accommodation in a class.  That way the class sessions are recorded automatically, the recording is sent off for captioning automatically, and the video is available with captions as quickly as possible with no need for intervention from instructors or staff.

The last few points relate again to the Mediasite player. Mediasite 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 a couple of these webinars, and it’s worth pointing out that Mediasite has a method of adding descriptions for visual items that appear in slides that are used in a presentation. It’s part of Mediasite’s Slides Editor, and I have an example here of how it works. You select a particular slide, and then you are prompted for a slide title and a slide description, much like Microsoft Word’s interface for adding titles and descriptions for images. And the nice thing here is that these slide descriptions are exposed to screen readers in the Mediasite player.

The final point is that using full-featured video players like this makes it much easier to employ Universal Design for Learning principles.  We’ve shown how you can present multiple representations of the content, and allow for multiple methods of engagement with the content. So if you have access to Mediasite on your campus, you should definitely encourage instructors to give it a try.

That’s want we wanted to cover today. We have several tutorials that are included on the Resources section of the blog page for this webinar, and as usual if you are setting up the Mediasite closed captioning integration and need any assistance, feel free to reach out to our support team at

Resources for Mediasite Captioning