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Media Captioning

Per CSU policy, Executive Order 926, the CSU is to make its programs, services, and activities accessible to students, faculty, staff, and the public, with disabilities. This includes, but is not limited to, multimedia programs and services as well as multimedia materials. 

"Multimedia" includes a combination of text, audio, still images, animation, or video regardless of delivery system, e.g., YouTube, PolyLearn, PowerPoint, campus website, etc.  This means that video presentations with audio must be "captioned." Captioning (or subtitles) must be visible "for any time-based multimedia presentation (e.g., a movie, video, or animation.)".

Prioritization Guidance

Since the volume of captioning needed is immense, making full compliance challenging, the university must decide how to provide and support captioning. Prioritizing this effort is critical; decisions will be based on the impact towards students, faculty, staff, and the public as follows:

High Priority:

  • An accommodation is requested by a student, staff member, or other person who requires captioning and verified by the appropriate campus authority, e.g., Disability Resource Center, Human Resources, Office of Equal Opportunity, etc.
  • The multimedia will be presented multiple times and/or over an extended period of time, e.g., used in a course for more than one term, reused in new courses and newly revised segments of existing course, etc.
  • Multimedia is on a public facing web page, e.g. commencement or other public-facing streamed or recorded events, news and marketing videos, informational videos, etc. This includes social networking and other non-university hosted sites officially associated with a Cal Poly department, unit or service.

Other Prioritization Considerations:

  • Any multimedia that is purchased should be delivered in a captioned state. If not, captioning will be done upon receipt once proper rights have been acquired. This applies to un-captioned purchased media and online videos belonging to other owners (e.g., YouTube) that may be used in a class or on a website. The employee/department is responsible for securing permission from the copyright holder/content owner or acquiring updated or alternate material with captions.
  • Archived materials are to be captioned upon request. Frequently requested materials should be captioned.
  • Captioning is a low priority if Lecture capture is used to post a lecture that is a review of a face-to-face class, and will only be available for one term, and you have verified that you do not have an accommodation request.
  • If captioning is required for one term only, the quality must be clear enough to allow equivalent access (defined as the ability to infer the meaning of whole sentences).  Note that at this time, dictation software, such as YouTube's automatic captioning, is not acceptable due to the tendency for errors, unless manually fixed by the content owner.

Captioning Resources

At present, Cal Poly has not identified a centralized funding source for captioning; therefore, each department is responsible for covering any related costs. Through CSU, Cal Poly uses an outside vendor (offering low rates and fast turn-around times) to meet its captioning needs. In addition, Cal Poly has established a process to live caption streamed events. Finally, many do-it-yourself tools are available for individuals to use, many at no cost. 

Information about recommended media captioning options and processes is maintained by ITS Classroom Technologies. ITS works with Cal Poly's Disability Resource Center, Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology, Robert E. Kennedy Library, and other campus entities as needed to facilitate captioning requests.

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