Online course and MOOC access issues are being flagged by individuals bringing lawsuits against content providers, the latest being Ian Deandrea-Lazarus in New York state – who requested closed captions on course content instead of sign language interpretation.
In February 2015, the New York Times reported that Harvard and MIT received lawsuits due to their open online courses [MOOCs] not being captioned for full access by people with hearing issues (or who speak English as an additional language for that matter).
TV And Radio Access Challenges Move Online
This news was also covered by Ars Technica, by TodayOnline and by Time Magazine, whose article was titled “Can We Build An Internet That Includes The Hearing Impaired?”.
One response is to hire a solutions provider like Translate Your World International (pronounced Ti-wee) or Kaltura, which has a knowledge exchange. Another option for entities is to grow new business by developing and marketing solutions, as seen with NPR Labs’ captioned radio solution which delivers accessibility for different population segments.
Digital Tools Are The Leveller
With The Australian noting that digital tools remove barriers for students to access dialogue in online and ‘face’ classes, the issue of who is tasked to source these solutions surfaces.
Accurate live captioning of audio is the last bastion of inaccessible information, knowledge and learning. For students who cannot hear, participation in both online and face-to-face classes is still fraught with difficulties, frustrations and miscommunication.
Voice recognition is now a maturing technology and genuinely opens doors to students and employees at risk of marginalisation due to hearing issues or other life challenges.
The US Department of Education has added a childrens’ online video channel with subtitles to its DCMP (Described & Captioned Media Portal). This accessible content can be used with and by, students in class or at home via the Web, phones and tablets, apps, and set-top boxes. Perhaps providers of MOOCs can consider similar access approaches, as discussed on the links posted below in the comments section.