Partnership Aims To Broaden the Accessibility of Digital Media

In an effort to bring digital media, specifically streaming video, to as wide a student audience as possible, two corporations have partnered with the United States Department of Education to significantly expand the number of videos featuring closed captioning and audio description tracks.

Closed captioning, which gives hearing-impaired and ELL viewers the option of watching video with same language subtitling, and audio description tracks, or voiceovers describing on-screen events and key elements for the visually impaired, are specialties of CaptionMax, a Minneapolis-based company offering a variety of media enhancement services to news and entertainment content providers. The company has received two federal grants to increase accessibility to educational media to students in grades kindergarten through 12.

Through the partnership, Discovery Education, a division of Discovery Networks and a large provider of educational media, will this fall have closed captioning on more than 1,700 full-length video programs, as well as more than 13,000 of its core concept video clips. In addition, optional AD tracks, which can be turned on and off as needed, will be a new feature on the company's streaming video products.

Visually impaired students are often at an extreme disadvantage when teachers use the increasingly common tool of streaming video to supplement a lesson, said Jill Soule, a high school teacher in San Diego, CA.  "The few times my students have experienced video description, they have been ecstatic.  The insight these descriptions afforded them was unlike anything they had experienced before."

About the Author

Scott Aronowitz is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas. He has covered the technology, advertising, and entertainment sectors for seven years. He can be reached here.