Understanding and engaging with legislation, policies and standards
When advising on and designing content destined for online delivery, it is an essential part of my job that time is taken to ensure it can be presented in a form that is as accessible to as many users as possible, whether that be people with disabilities or learning difficulties, to the devices the content and information can be accessed from.
As part of the partnership with Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland (CHSS), an official YouTube channel had been launched, listing a number of eLearning content videos, including patient to doctor and patient to nurse conversations. This content is openly accessible to the general public, and in the second phase of the project, one of the requirements for any new content was to make it accessible to users who are deaf or hard of hearing. My involvement was to create/embed subtitles (captions) into each video, allowing them to meet the WCAG 2.0 standard for prerecorded content. The purpose of the WCAG as a whole is to explain how to make web content more accessible to people with disabilities.
“The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are part of a series of web accessibility guidelines published by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the main international standards organisation for the Internet.” W3C Web Accessibility Initiative
The task of embedding subtitles into the videos was somewhat simple. YouTube offers a tool whereby it automatically converts the audio of a video uploaded via the Video Manager, into text transcripts. For the most part this content is correct. In evaluating the automated transcripts, it was evident that YouTube was unable to pick up the thicker accents and deeper tones of some of our speakers within the videos, causing for a loss of subtitle quality. I needed to listen through the videos, editing and correcting any subtitles as necessary. I didn’t appreciate the amount of time and attention to detail that was required. Once I had completed the first video, I was able to plan the editing of the remaining videos in a more effective manner.
For future video content creation projects, I have built this subtitle evaluation task into time estimates, allowing project managers to be aware of what is required. I was also involved in running a subtitling training session for other members in the team, which widened the awareness of the accessibility standards we were striving to meet for new, prerecorded content.
When the need for subtitles was originally identified, aside from making content accessible to the deaf or hard of hearing, I didn’t appreciate the other opportunities they also offer. Video transcripts and subtitles can enhance engagement levels, as they allow learners to search videos for keywords, maintain concentration levels throughout longer publications and as Taylor (2017) discusses, can also be helpful for users unable to access the audio content:
“The social model of disability suggests that the society or environment is disabling the individual rather than their impairment or difference. For example videos without subtitles disadvantage anyone watching in a noisy environment but they disadvantage deaf people all the time.”
My approach to tasks and projects has now changed as a result of this. I was previously naive in regards to accessibility standards; instead of planning for them at the start of a task, they’d only be considered in later stages of a development, which I now know can be detrimental to the time spent on and quality of the content. With clear and careful planning at the start of tasks, I have been able to consider other methods of making content accessible, from researching font-sizes to thinking about the positioning of content, in order to help more people engage with the content.
Taylor, J. (2017). Getting started with accessibility and inclusion. [online] Jisc. Available at: https://www.jisc.ac.uk/guides/getting-started-with-accessibility-and-inclusion [Accessed 19 Apr. 2017].
Evidence and additional links
Working within a team who are responsible for the development and maintenance of our bespoke learning environments, it is imperative the same principles and standards are adhered to when adding or editing code. This allows for us as a team to move in and out of systems without having to learn different code patterns, improving the ease and efficiency of maintenance and future developments.
Recently I have been working with programme teams in creating smaller pieces of work; which currently only require one person to be managing and developing them at any one time. By ensuring I am following the same code standards as with our larger platforms, it allows me to foster code consistency across all our services, meaning anyone in the team can come into the project, and be able to pick up change requests if I was not available. Our previous team manager introduced us to the ISOBAR Code Standards, which cover a number of web languages, and I (with the team) have been following their principles and guidelines ever since. Whilst I don’t use it everyday, its a bookmarked website that I can call upon when starting out with, or working through a task.
Positive Impacts (team)
- Lower development costs
- Lower maintenance costs
- An efficient support service
Working towards these standard principles has positive impacts for both the development teams’ and our users experience. Fostering a coding consistency allows us to deliver a higher quality end product that can be accessed by users across browsers and devices, whilst our development and maintenance costs are lower. Any redesign modifications can be altered efficiently across systems, and any new developments can be built within the existing frameworks; building on and utilising existing code or models. From a support aspect I have also noticed the streamlining of support issues when using this approach. With a core code base in place, there has been a reduction in errors experience as our developers are all working towards the same principles. When issues from users do occur, the process of identifying and investigating the issue is much more efficient.
My evidence for the awareness of these technical standards comes in the form of screenshots including the initial email from my previous manager, asking for feedback on proposed standards to follow, and the other screenshots show the standards we chose to abide, with example code.
Evidence and additional links