A recent study has found that about 75 percent of college students, based on responses from undergraduate and graduate students at four-year institutions, make use of closed captions and transcripts when viewing videos for class purposes.

These students said they use the captions and transcripts in order to increase focus, retention, engagement, and comprehension.

Closed captions are generally used to help in the moment, and especially to overcome poor audio quality, while transcripts are often referred to as a study aid after the fact.

This is a very interesting finding, especially since only about 13 percent of respondents were registered with their school’s disability services, and only 19 percent of respondents had difficulty hearing.

The research also highlights a problem in higher education: despite federal funding requirements to include close captions and transcripts when universities create video for teaching purposes, many universities don’t actually do this. Coupled with the use of externally produced video from Hollywood or YouTube this means that most videos don’t have these features.

This means that we’re failing our disabled students, which is unsurprising if you work with these students or are yourself disabled. This is a pretty inexcusable failing, as including these features isn’t particularly difficult from a production standpoint.

Nearly 100 percent of respondents had at least one class that included video content, so this isn’t a problem for a small minority of students, but something that everyone faces.

The researchers hope that this study, showing the value of closed captions and transcripts for all students, will help encourage instructors to use them more frequently.

“Many people associate the use of closed captions and transcripts only with disability accommodation, and that can mean they are not made widely available,” says Katie Linder, author of the study. “One hope for the study was to help educate university administrators about how a range of students are using these tools, and that making them more available could help more learners.”

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