All posts by Daniel Jacobs

Harvard & M.I.T. sued over lack of captions

The importance of educational media accessibility is in the spotlight, as lawsuits against both Harvard and M.I.T. were filed by the National Deaf Association last week. The lawsuits are over the failure of the two schools to adequately caption their online learning content. This content includes various video and audio material, including online lectures and podcasts.

New York Times article link

This should be an informative legal proceeding and one to keep an eye on. It may impact interpretation and enforcement of already existing laws that relate to electronic media access like ADA and the Rehabilitation Act, especially as online learning increases in higher education.

Here at UT, we’re very concerned with accessibility and are proud of the efforts made to caption campus media. However, even with significant progress made thus far, there’s more to be done. These lawsuits emphasize the importance of our university’s efforts to level the playing field and provide access to the benefits of online learning to everyone.

Students captioning
Two student-workers captioning video content at the University of Texas at Austin Libraries.

If you are a content owner and have questions or need captions please contact me or visit our site for more info.

Daniel Jacobs –







Fall 2014 Captioning Metrics

We’re a good ways into the fall semester, so I thought it might be interesting to share some data we’ve gathered through our captioning and transcription service piloting phase.

First up is a chart displaying how many minutes of video or audio we’ve transcribed and captioned total. There’s also a trend line indicating the amount of staff hours worked. I’ve grouped this data into 2-week chunks.

minutes captioned chart
Minutes Captioned from 9/2014 – 11/2014

As you can see, we hit a high mark in the second half of October with steady increases up to that point.

Of course there are quite a few variables that affect how quickly a video or piece of audio can be transcribed and  captioned. How quickly someone speaks or how technical the language can have a big impact on turnaround time.

Below, you’ll find a chart displaying a breakdown of which groups have requested captions or transcription from us over the course of the semester. This is based solely on number of videos or audio (not duration).

Requesting Parties chart

I’m always on the lookout for ways to increase efficiency. It’ll be interesting to see how this data develops over time.

That’s it for now.  Thanks for reading.


Captioning update

Here in TIS we’ve been quietly rolling out a captioning and transcription service. It’s not widely publicized yet, but we’ve captioned or created transcriptions for almost 70 videos, totalling nearly 1,000 minutes of content.  That’s roughly the equivalent duration of The Lord of the Rings trilogy (theatrical edition) 2 times through!

In addition, we have almost 50 hours of new content on the docket for the upcoming months.

We are very fortunate to have hired three fantastic student staff members, who are diligently and efficiently transcribing, timing and creating very high-quality captions and transcripts at blistering typing speeds (want to challenge us to TypeRacer?)

So far, the feedback has been very positive for both our turnaround time and overall quality of work.

Although this is just the beginning we’re very excited about the progress. Especially since we have some other exciting initiatives in the works. Our next phases will include:

  • rolling out a website
  • ramping up our capacity
  • creating a captioning knowledge base
  • getting the word out to entire UT campus

If you are interested in seeing some of our work, here are a few links to public facing content that we’ve done:

School of Pharmacy [Dr. Talbert Interview for AACP Award]

UT Libraries Poetry Center [Reading and Discussion with Texas Poets Laureate]

UT Undergrad Math Club iTunes U videos –iTunes U

Need captions or transcriptions for your videos? Make your content accessible! Please contact me, Daniel Jacobs ( to get the ball rolling. I’d love to talk shop and answer any questions you might have about all things captions/transcription.  And please do check back here for more updates in the future.

p.s. I’m serious about TypeRacer. Set up a race, send me the link.