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37th Annual CSUN Assistive Technology Conference Has Concluded

[Help!] Captioning at Scale for a Large Research University

Date & Time
Wednesday, March 16, 2022 - 11:20 AM PST  
Orange County  

In 2019 Harvard reached a settlement in the class-action lawsuit brought against the University by the National Association of the Deaf (NAD). Included in the settlement were the requirements that:

Within two years of the settlement, Harvard must caption all audio and video content created and produced at the University and posted on a public-facing University Website between January 1, 2019 and December 1, 2019.

All audio or video content created and produced at Harvard and posted on a public-facing University Website on or after December 1, 2019 must be captioned when posted.

In a large decentralized institution like Harvard, this was a challenging task. With thousands of websites, tens of thousands of multimedia embeds, and hundreds of groups across various departments and units, even identifying what websites or media channels Harvard owned required significant resources.

In order to bring the University into compliance with the settlement terms, the Digital Accessibility Services team, a small group within Harvard University IT, undertook several initiatives: Development of a website inventory for Harvard, identifying site owners and technical contacts; Creation of a Digital Accessibility Liaison network to help support outreach and communication across the University; Development of an internal application used to dynamically track the caption status of media channels and embeds; Partnership with the Office of the Vice Provost for Advances in Learning to help identify embedded media across University websites; Training, resources, and communication around captioning best practices and services; Preferred vendor contracts with captioning and live captioning service providers.

The DAS team will discuss how they completed captioning commitments for content from 2019 as part of the project. At the same time, they are actively ramping up training and communication to help build awareness and knowledge for departments and units to independently manage their own captioning needs.

The presentation provides insight into Harvard’s approach to meeting the settlement terms, and the challenges they faced along the way. The DAS team members will discuss their strategies for building a culture of accessibility at a large decentralized University like Harvard. Key features include creating tools and leveraging technology to monitor tens of thousands of separately controlled websites and associated video or audio sources for compliance. Likewise, training and outreach efforts were key to making Harvard’s audio and video content accessible on a tight timeline.

This Presentation Link is provided by the Presenter(s) and not hosted by the Center on Disabilities at CSUN. The Center on Disabilities has confirmed, as of March 15, 2022, content linked is relevant to the presentation, but has not been reviewed for accessibility nor will the Center on Disabilities attempt to remediate any accessibility issues in the linked content. Please contact the Presenter(s) with any accessibility concerns.

  • Higher Education
  • Information & Communications Technology
  • Disability Specific
  • Media & Publishing
  • Marketing
Audience Level
Session Summary (Abstract)
Two years ago Harvard reached a settlement, agreeing to caption online content from many stakeholders across a large, decentralized institution. Join digital accessibility team members to learn about their approach to the work along with tools developed, services integrated, and training delivered to carry out the work and promote accessibility.  
Session Type
General Track  
  • Captions & Transcription
  • Digital Accessibility
  • Evaluation & Remediation
  • Law, Compliance, and Policy
  • Video & Live Streaming


  • Kyle Shachmut
    Harvard University
  • Andy Hollenhorst
    Harvard University

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