YouTube is both a blessing and a curse for online learning. YouTube hosts thousands and thousands of great educational videos aimed for higher ed learning, and their topics range from introductory algebra to advanced business management. Any instructor could find supplementary material for their students via YouTube. Unfortunately, most of these videos do not meet federal accessibility standards. All too often, videos hosted on YouTube contain unedited closed captions or no captions at all–rendering them useless in online courses. If an instructor wanted to include one of these videos in their course, they would need to type up a transcript (most likely in a Word Document) that would reflect the video’s audio content. This process takes time and patience, but is necessary step for a course to meet accessibility standards.
Recently, I started playing around on a website called Amara. According to their website, “Amara is home to an award winning subtitle editor that makes it easy to caption and translate video… [With Amara, it is] incredibly easy (and free) to caption and translate your videos.” Initially it sounded almost too good to be true, BUT I’m happy to report that this is one of the best captioning tools I’ve stumbled across so far. With this tool, I’m able to caption videos that I do not own. So, while I will continue to use the YouTube caption editor for videos that I upload to YouTube, I can use Amara to edit captions on videos that I did not upload myself.
Let me give you an example! Below is a video with unedited youtube captions. Take a minute to watch the video with the unedited YouTube captions turned on (Watch our video on how to turn-on YouTube captions if this is unfamiliar to you).
See how the captions do not communicate what the speaker is saying? This is a huge accessibility issue for students with low or no hearing. If I was using this video in my online course, it’s possible that they wouldn’t know what was said and would miss out on an important lesson.
With the Amara tool, I am able to create edited captions and a transcript for my students for this video. These are visible at anytime during the video. All I need to do is click on the caption or transcript button in order to view the correct captions.
Watch the video below with the Amara tool to see the difference!
Now I can view edited captions or a timed transcript on this video. If you have YouTube videos in your course that have unedited captions and you do not own them, Amara can be the answer for you! You’ll first need to sign up for a free Amara account. There, you can create, edit, and time your captions to make accessible videos for your course!
If you need help embedding an Amara video in your course or if you are interested in using Amara but would like further explanation/training, feel free to contact your team at Instructional Design and Technology.