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Accessibility Tools for Content Creators

Frameweld is driving online accessibility via its suite of tools for closed captioning and e-learning, explain Ashish Shah and Len Cartsos.

Frameweld is an integrated provider of rich media, development, and production services based in New York City, United States

Frameweld is an integrated provider of rich media, development, and production services based in New York City, United States. Image courtesy: raineugene.org.

It is no secret that online learning is here to stay. According to a 2013 report by the Babson Survey Research Group, over 7.1 million higher education students took at least one online course in 2013, while the number of students taking at least one online course continued to grow at a rate far in excess of overall enrollments. Moreover, the percent of academic leaders rating the learning outcomes in online education as the same or superior to those as in face-to-face instruction, grew from 57% in 2003 to 74% in 2013.

While these numbers are impressive, they do not specifically relate to students with disabilities. That being said, online education can be a promising solution for students with certain physical disabilities since it will allow them to take courses without needing to navigate to a physical location. Persons with sensory disabilities can also benefit from the online course experience if the platform provides the proper accessibility features. While the Americans with Disabilities Act states that online courses should be made accessible to students with disabilities, it has not provided any specific standards, leaving it up to the provider to decide the extent of the features it will provide.

Frameweld’s commitment to access for all started back in 2000, even though the concept of online accessibility was nascent at the time. Using a Universal Design approach, Frameweld developed a suite of tools that would allow users with disabilities to follow online instruction with ease. Encourse is Frameweld’s learning platform for creating and delivering online courses. It empowers instructional designers and educators to create custom learning workflows and implement courses using different instructional approaches, from blended and flipped-classroom models of instruction, to self-paced certification courses, and synchronous open courses (MOOCs). It is being used by organizations like Columbia University, the Pennsylvania Department of Education, and Dignity Health.

Encourse’s integration with another Frameweld tool, Workshop, allows for the creation of synchronized rich media presentations that can be used in the learning workflow. It is this integration that also provides all the accessibility features one would need for accessing these presentations – captions for the deaf and hard of hearing; keyboard navigation for physically and visually impaired users; video control shortcuts and descriptions of visuals for visually impaired users; and beyond. These accessibility features were all designed with careful planning and attention to detail, to ensure that accessing the video presentations was easy and friendly for all users. Captioning your video materials also allows users to perform full text search through all content related to your video – titles, descriptions, captions, slide data, chapter labels, and speaker information.

A third tool used in conjunction with Workshop and Encourse is SyncWords, Frameweld’s closed caption automation platform. SyncWords takes in a media file and a transcript and outputs many different types of captions files. These captions lead the field in timing precision and segmentation optimized for user experience. While no one tool requires the other to function, the symbiotic relationship between these three platforms gives users a full suite of tools to create an online learning experience that is not only easy to use but accessible for all users.

And finally, our Recapd platform delivers captions in real-time to deaf and hard of hearing individuals on their mobile devices or desktops, enabling them to participate in webinars, conference calls, and live meetings. Deaf users can now follow speakers and conversations in live meetings, literally, on the palm of their hands, thus adding an extra level of convenience and comfort. Recapd is used at several universities, as well as widely across federal agencies.  

Co-authored by Ashish Shah and Len Cartsos.
Ashish Shah is the co-founder of Frameweld, a New York-based company that provides products and services for improving accessibility. Ashish graduated with degrees in Mechanical and Industrial Engineering from the University of Mumbai and Stanford University, respectively.

Len Cartsos is a Product Manager at Frameweld. He is a key member of products group at Frameweld where he contributes from the initial stages of information architecture to the design implementation and testing the finished product. He received his Bachelor of Arts in History from Brandeis University, and an MBA from St. John’s University.

G3ict doesn't endorse or promote the products or services by companies or organizations. We provide information and listings which we hope are helpful to our readers. 


Related Resources

Blog: Training Students with Disabilities to Use Assistive Technology | Read Lucy Greco's Article.

Publication: Accessibility In Transition: From Remediation to Born Accessible in Post-Secondary Education | Download PDF.

Event: World Education Summit - Dubai, January 25-27, 2016 | View Details.


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• USA: Portland Community College Introduces Web Accessibility MOOC for Educators

• Nominations Open for U.S. FCC Chairman’s Award for Advancement in Accessibility (AAA)

• New Standard on Accessibility: Leaving No Content Behind Online, Washington, D.C., USA

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