Captioning of Audio & Video Services--Academic Accommodations

September 15, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

We are writing to share some information and to ask for your help. As you know, it is our responsibility to make all instructional materials available to students with disabilities in a timely manner. Submitting your course materials as early as possible enables the Disabled Students’ Program (DSP) to provide legally required academic accommodations, while we work toward expanding DSP capacity.

Among the many changes associated with remote instruction has been a significant increase in the need for captioning, alternative media, and braille. The accommodation that is most impacted right now is captioning, with DSP receiving considerably more requests, especially expedited requests, than they have the current capacity to manage. We use a vendor for much of the captioning; for expedited services, the cost to caption triples. Given this, we are requesting that you please submit your materials for media captioning (including asynchronous lectures) seven days in advance whenever possible. Please note that at this time, materials that are posted on the weekend can only be processed during business hours (Mon-Fri, 9:00AM - 5:00PM).

The volume of captioning requests has increased for several reasons. The number of students who require captioning services has increased, and many students whose disabilities could be accommodated without real-time captioning within the context of an in-person class now require real-time captioning to access that same material when the class is offered remotely. In addition, many of you have restructured your classes for the remote environment in ways that are pedagogically advised but also increase the need for captioning: using a wider range of video and other online resources; making more frequent, lower-stakes assessments; and recording live lectures for asynchronous access. 

Thank you for the extraordinary efforts you are already making in these difficult times, and thank you for doing your best to submit your materials to DSP as early as possible in order to fully include our students with disabilities in your courses. At the same time, DSP is working to identify and hire additional captioners as soon as possible in order to meet this increased demand. Thank you for your efforts on behalf of our students. 

In partnership,

A. Paul Alivisatos
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

Jennifer Johnson-Hanks
Chair, Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate

Oscar Dubón
Vice Chancellor, Equity & Inclusion

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