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Captioning in the Classroom

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The Office of Accessible Education (OAE) provides accommodations to OAE-registered students with disabilities. Stanford University is obligated under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and other similar laws to ensure Stanford students are provided equal access and an equivalent educational experience regardless of whether courses are held in person or remotely.

Why am I being contacted about a captioner in my course?

Does adding a captioner to my course pose any confidentiality issues?

How will this affect me in class?

How do I add a captioner to my Canvas course?

How does captioning work in a foreign language course?

Why am I being contacted about a captioner in my course?

Students who are deaf or hard of hearing often require classroom accommodations so they can access the material presented. They may communicate through a variety of means: real‐time captioners, sign language interpreting, writing, lip reading, or if the individual possesses residual hearing, use of a device to amplify sounds.

When an OAE-registered student requests captioning in their classes, the OAE arranges for a real-time captioner, also known as Communication Access Real-time Translation (CART). Captioners provide word-for-word speech-to-text interpreting services. They are charged with taking all spoken words and environmental sounds and conveying them via text for the student. Section 36.303(b)(1) of the Americans with Disabilities Act specifically recognizes CART as an assistive technology that enables students with dynamic communication access.

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Does adding a captioner to my course pose any confidentiality issues?

No. Captioners are held to a stringent Code of Professional Conduct described by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) and the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA), which requires compliance to strict standards of professionalism, neutrality, confidentiality, as well as respect for students, teachers, staff and TAs. They are expected to communicate the integrity of the message as delivered by the instructor, neither adding nor removing any information.

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How will this affect me in class?

On-Campus Classes

You may be asked to wear a microphone which connects directly to the student’s hearing aid. The microphone may also connect to a remote captioning device in which an off-site captioner receives a direct audio feed of course instruction and captions the content for the OAE student in near-real time (typically a 1-3 second delay). The student will be responsible for bringing you the microphone at the beginning of class, as well as collecting it at the end of class. We only ask that you wear it.

Alternatively, there may be an in-class captioner physically present in the classroom with you, as opposed to a remote captioner. This captioner will sit with the student and type on a stenograph, a specialized keyboard that facilitates increased typing speeds for the captioner. 

Classes Held Through Zoom

Please share the link to your Zoom session with our captioner, as well as any passwords you may have set on the meeting. Once the captioner has the link to the Zoom meeting, they will join the class just as any other student. The professor may see an extra person in their class under the name “Captioner.”

At the beginning of each class, we ask that you assign our captioner as the individual allowed to create captions for the session. Zoom does not currently allow you to save this choice, so you will need to manually assign them at the beginning of each class. Fortunately, it is an extremely easy process.

For full details on how to do this, click our How To: Assign a Captioner in Zoom.

If your class uses breakout rooms, please be aware that the captioner needs to accompany the student into these rooms.

Pre-Recorded Classes

In the event that your class is scheduled to be held remotely, and you plan on posting pre-recorded lectures rather than live classes, the OAE can help you caption this content in order to maintain accessibility for all students. Our captioners will create subtitle files, also known as srt files, to be added to your course videos. This can be facilitated one of two ways:

I can add the srt files myself

If you are comfortable adding the captions to the Canvas course yourself, you can give our captioner Observer level access to your course.

  • Observer level access does not allow the captioner to download course videos, an essential piece of creating srt files. If you choose this option, we will need you to provide access to the course videos elsewhere by uploading them to a secure location such as Box, Google Drive, etc.
  • Once the captioner has access to the videos, they can begin to create the srt files. Upon completion, the captioner will send them to the professor to manually add to each video.
  • Instructions on how to manually add srt files to your course videos can be found at How To: Upload .srt files to Canvas.

I would prefer that the OAE add the srt files for me

In the event that you do not have time to add srt files yourself, or you are not comfortable enough with the Canvas system to do this, please give our captioners Designer level access to your Canvas course. This allows our captioners to add srt files to your course without giving them full Admin privileges.

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How do I add a captioner to my Canvas course?

Please see "How do I add someone with a SUNet ID to a course site?" for detailed instructions from the Stanford Canvas team on how to add an individual to your Canvas course. The OAE will inform you of the SUNet ID for the captioner in question.

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How does captioning work in a foreign language course?

Captioners do not act as translators. Any captions that the student receives will be in the language that is spoken. For example, in a German class, any time the teacher is speaking German, the captions will be in German. If and when the teacher switches back to English, the captions will match that. Captioners are required to be fluent in both English and the foreign language in order to be assigned to a class. Alternatively, you may have two captioners in your class - one for each spoken language.

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