- Dissemination of Information
- Design of Supporting Materials
- Recording & Post-Recording
Accessibility is an integral part of course design and it should be considered in the planning stages of course development. Accessibility is also an essential part of the video creation process and it encompasses the ability of making materials more inclusive to all learners. To make materials and courses more accessible and inclusive, consider and acknowledge that our learners come from diverse backgrounds and have different needs.
Accessibility is also an integral part of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), which is a framework that ensures all learners have an equal opportunity to access and participate in learning (for more information about UDL, visit their website: The UDL Guidelines). These guidelines provide concrete methods that instructors can employ in their courses to increase accessibility for their students. Related to video, one concrete way of increasing accessibility is by adding captions or transcripts to videos. A common myth is that only students who identify as having hearing impairments benefit from captions. However, including as-accurate-as-possible captions or transcripts can help many learners, such as whose whose first language is not English or those who need extra stimuli, maintain focus.
The goal of this page is to focus on accessibility in the video creation process whilst providing tips to help you consider accessibility, disability, and UDL during the recording of lecture content.
There are three main topics that ought to be considered when planning the recording of lectures: (1) dissemination of information, (2) design of supporting materials and (3) recording and post-recording.
As we navigate through these three topics, one thing we should always keep in mind is ensuring that all our learners can engage with and understand the material equally. Are we creating equal opportunities for success in our course design and video creation? If ever the answer is “no”, we should re-consider our strategies and develop more inclusive and accessible solutions. For support, please reach out via the TLS Support Portal.
Consider how much information is enough to be presented to learners. Many studies have demonstrated that student engagement is increased when educational videos do not exceed nine minutes (Guo, Kim, & Rubin, 2014). The researchers tend to agree that cognitive load theory can explain why students’ attention typically drops after six minutes. Therefore, a good strategy is to chunk your content into smaller segments (Guo et al., 2014; Mayer & Moreno, 2003).
Ensure the language is clear, simple (i.e., easy to understand), and concise. This is true for both written and spoken language. Moreover, if you have terminology that might be challenging for learners during the lectures, consider presenting and defining them before the lecture segment.
Speak audibly, clearly, and naturally. Try to include teaching pauses as you would do in a face-to-face class. This provides opportunities for students to mentally catch up. Imagine your students are on the other side of the camera and talk to them, as you would do in a synchronous class. Remember that making some mistakes as you speak is not a problem! In fact, it is natural to do so and it humanizes the lecture videos.
These are all steps that you can take to reduce cognitive load by reducing the noise and increasing the signal. More steps are involved in the design of the supporting materials (e.g., slides).
When designing lecture slides with accessibility in mind, there are so many things to consider. Let’s start with slide sizing. For optimal recording and usage of space, it is recommended to use widescreen ratio (16:9). To learn how to do this, visit Change the size of your slides.
Opt for a clean and simple design for your slides with good colour contrast. This can be accomplished by using only relevant images and avoiding the inclusion of unnecessary information. The idea is that students focus on the message you must convey. Again, we want to minimize the noise and increase the signal.
Remember that simplicity is key, and that less is more! Do not cram the slides with a lot of text information. Choose short bullet points for text in lieu of large paragraphs.
- Preferably, include up to six bullet points per slide and leave white space on the sides and bottom of the screen.
- The white space on the bottom of the slides is where the captions will show on the videos.
- While you’re presenting your bullet points, try to show one bullet point at a time, read it and then explain it before moving on to the next bullet point.
Avoid using noisy transitions or unnecessary animations because they add unnecessary noise that can impact students’ cognitive load. When used often, these animations will distract students from the main message.
Making the slides available to learners before the class can help increate accessibility as well. For example, this practice allows persons who are blind to follow along with Braille display or with a screen reader and earbuds. If the slides are to be made available to learners, make sure every slide has a unique title. People who are blind, have low vision, or have reading disabilities rely on slide titles for navigation purposes.
Verbally cue any visual aids (like images or graphics) and shortly describe them to your learners. Moreover, ensure that images are clear (i.e., not blurry) and, if any text is present on them, it should be legible. Good image resolution is 1920 pixels by 1080 pixels.
Use sans-serif fonts that are no smaller than 24 points. Additionally, it is recommended that titles are set to 36- to 38-point fonts. Sans-serif fonts (e.g., Verdana, Arial, Calibri, Tahoma, Century Gothic) are easier to read on screens.
Use an accessible colour font scheme; that is, a lighter background with darker fonts or darker background with lighter fonts. Consult the WebAIM Contrast Checker to ensure there is enough contrast between your background and foreground colours.
When using colour to denote meaning, make sure you do not use only colour as a way to convey information. Some people cannot distinguish between colours, which means this subset of your audience will miss out on important information if colour is the only method to convey the information. For example, throughout this page, red text is used to denote concrete tips. However, these same words are also bolded.
Before you record every video segment you created on your slides, it is recommended you test the sound and image of your recording for clarity.
- Use an external microphone to record your lectures. This does not have to be top-of-the-line, but something that brings your mouth closer to the microphone is preferred. If you feel your space or equipment is not adequate, fill out Carleton’s Booking Video Equipment or Suite form.
- Record your lectures in a quiet place. Make sure you take notes on the sound levels you are using so you can use repeat them for all lecture segment recordings. This will ensure they are consistent. If you’d like feedback on your test videos, please send them to us via the TLS Support Portal. We’re happy to give you feedback before you commit to recording lecture videos.
Another way to increase the accessibility of your lecture videos is to include the associated transcripts under each video for students’ reference. Some students might want to print them in hopes of following along by reading.
Having the captions available adds an extra layer of accessibility. That is why it is also important to speak audibly and clearly when recording your videos. Captions are machine-generated, which means the accuracy of them is related to how clearly and audibly we speak. It is recommended that lecture videos are uploaded to your MediaSpace to be embedded into your course page. These videos will include machine-generated captions and transcripts available via Kaltura. Kaltura’s media player has been deemed accessible because students are able to control the speed of the videos, the caption settings, and the display settings.
For support with captions and transcripts, access the Carleton Resource page.