The University should make subtitles mandatory for pre-recorded content 

Passed: November 2020 (24th)

What do you want? / Why do you want it? 

With the vast majority of University teaching being done online, it's more important than ever to make sure that digital content is accessible. As a deaf student, I rely on captions in my general online life. While most of my modules use subtitles on their pre-recorded lectures, there are some cases where subtitles are not used. Not only does this mean that I have to work harder to understand and concentrate on the content, but the disparity and inconsistency across modules is frustrating, and stress-inducing at times. 

The impact of this is worsened when lecturers only do a voiceover for their lecture, instead of filming themselves, as the possibility to try and lipread isn't available. By making subtitles mandatory (which are usually done automatically), deaf students like myself can keep up as easily as hearing students and not undergo the additional stress that hearing students don't have to go through of not knowing what to expect from each module, accessibility-wise. Furthermore, many hearing people use subtitles to aid comprehension, as well as students whose native language is not English. This simple policy change would ensure that the University is equally considering the learning of a whole additional cohort of students, and would support students from a range of backgrounds during the move into digital learning.

Expires: November 2023 (24th)

Submitted By: Ana-Sofia Velasco

Officer: Education / Equality & Liberation

Area of Work: Access to Education 


May 2022: Subtitles are now automatically generated by the software that's used to record lectures. Pre-recorded content should be generated using similarly digitally enabled software. 

February 2022: Almost all systems can add captions. Some are automatic and built in (i.e: if you do a pre-recorded video on a local machine and publish via ‘media site’ it will auto generate the subtitles with 80% accuracy). There is an option for ‘human capturing’ to be requested- currently human capturing hasn’t happened a lot (this is what makes accuracy higher) so we want to push more requests from staff.

University Policy can be seen here and is as follows: 

Auto-captioning will be available for all AV content in Mediasite, and will be automatically created for all scheduled recordings, desktop captures and ad-hoc recordings. Captions will only be published if they reach a quality threshold of at least 80%.  

Auto-captioning is available for Microsoft Teams and Stream, and can’t be altered.  

Auto-captioning is not currently available for Collaborate Ultra, and the University is working with the system vendor, Blackboard, to understand the system roadmap for this functionality.

January 2021: The University has approved the implementation of video captioning as part of its strategy to improve equality access in learning and teaching - essentially captioning should be provided where possible.

November 2020: New Policy