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Copyright and Accessibility Survey Results

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In the fall of 2012, the PCC Copyright Committee asked questions of faculty related to copyright and accessibility. 227 faculty members responded. Below are highlights of the results, as well as links for additional context and related resources.

Our first question asked what you think your students need to know more about.

90% of the faculty who responded indicated plagiarism.
a)      Copyright (52%)
b)      Intellectual Freedom (37%)
c)      Plagiarism (90%)
d)      Other (12%)

If you haven’t already seen it, check out this library page devoted to plagiarism prevention.  Do you have more ideas about how we can support you in preventing plagiarism?  Let us know at!

The second question asked about which techniques faculty would find helpful in terms of bringing information to students.

The top responses were websites and handouts.
a)      Websites (50%)
b)      Guest Lectures from Librarians (39%)
c)       Handouts (50%)
d)      Exercises (39%)
e)      Short Modules  (46%)
f)       Other – see responses (12%)
Note: the copyright committee is developing a page for faculty to use with students. The page will provide links, handouts, & exercises. It will complement existing pages which provide faculty with guidance and students with FAQ. We’ll let you know when that page is up and ready to use.

We also asked faculty whether or not they knew about the limitations on using accessible versions of copyrighted videos.

While over half of the faculty who responded did indicate they understood, there were many survey respondents who saw no connection between copyright and accessibility.
To be clear – copyright holders have the right to publish material that is inaccessible, but once PCC instructors choose to adopt it, we take on the responsibility for ensuring equal access. This is not always possible and should move us toward purposefully choosing accessible content from the start.  The trick is that when we require students to buy or watch material that is not captioned, we take on the responsibility for captioning it with institutional dollars each time we realize there is a student with legitimate need, and because of copyright restrictions we usually can’t use the captioned version again unless another student with documented need requires it. Realistically this means we are putting enormous amounts of time and energy into producing improvements that we can’t even let our full population benefit from.  The up-side is that if we simply choose to search for and use captioned media whenever possible, it will save all those institutional dollars for other projects.

For those who want more context check out this brief review of Accessibility in Higher Education.

We asked which sources faculty tend to turn to when searching for videos.

Almost three quarters of the faculty who responded indicated that YouTube is the primary vehicle for identifying multimedia content.

a)      Publisher Site (39%)
b)      You Tube (72%)
c)       Librarian (15%)
d)      Library Search  (39%)
e)      General Search (46%)
f)       Recommendations (46%)

Given how many of you are searching YouTube, we want to be sure you are aware of the following quick search tip:


When searching for media on YouTube, it is easy to search for captioned videos. Simply type the keyword you are searching for followed by a comma a space, and the letters cc. The Disability Services website has a handout that gives more detail on YouTube features.  When using YouTube videos, it’s also important to remember there is significant variation in the quality of the captioning.  Automatic captioning is often very poor and does not provide equal access .

One way to ensure quality captions  when searching for videos, is to check out library resources like Films on Demand.  The videos included in Films on Demand have generous licensing that allows you to use them in many educational contexts without worrying about copyright issues and they have high quality captioning.  Ask your liaison librarian if you have any questions!

When searching, do you prioritize for content that is captioned?

Less than half of the faculty who responded said they typically prioritize for captioned content.

Based on some of the comments we received, we wanted to clarify a few points.

1) Some respondents thought we should just have the Sign Language Interpreters sign through the videos when they are shown in class since they would be in the room anyway. However, it is not usually effective to have ASL Interpreters try and interpret videos into sign language as they are playing. Keep in mind that video is usually edited tightly. Often there is more information being conveyed per minute visually than in a typical verbal interaction.  It is impossible for students to look at the Interpreter and the video at the same time. Also, not all students who need captions use ASL Interpreters. In fact, not all students who benefit from captions even have hearing loss.  For more information on how accessible learning materials can benefit a diverse population, check out resources related to Universal Design for Learning.

2) Some respondents noted that captions were often of poor quality. We want to be clear. Not all caption t racks are created equally. If searching on YouTube, please know that “English (automatic captions)” do not provide equal access, they are transcript files have been generated using automatic speech recognition.  Make sure you see “English”.

The problem is that speech recognition, while pretty darn awesome, is simply not up to the job of listening to a video’s settings2settings1audio track and assembling an accurate transcript. Speech recognition programs, such as Dragon, can work really well when there is a high quality microphone comparing a single speaking voice to an active user profile. They work especially well when used live, correcting mistakes as they are encountered. Automatic Speech Recognition can really only work well in environments such as phone trees where there are only certain phrases that are expected. What it can’t do very well, is listen to a complex audio track with multiple speaking voices, and produce an accurate rendering in text.

When you see English, or other language tracks that don’t have the (automatic captions) tag, it means someone actually uploaded a file which will generally mean much higher quality results. If ever there are concerns about the quality of captioning for a student with documented need please contact Disability Services right away.

PCC has multiple ways to deal with uncaptioned or poorly captioned content. We have staff and faculty with mad skills, as well as bulk rate captioning minutes through a vendor. We got a great rate, but it is still over a hundred dollars per hour so we really hope to increase the usage of quality content that is already captioned, or will be captioned by the media provider. The great news is that Librarians can help you search for already captioned content that is high quality.

We asked how you would like to receive information about accessibility and copyright.

A majority of you responded that a regularly updated website would be best.

a)      Website that is updated regularly (85%)
b)      Blog with monthly posts  (17%)
c)       Workshop you could attend in person (26%)
d)      Webinar to participate in from your desk (28%)

Given that 85% of you said you would like to have access to a website that is updated regularly, we plan to update the copyright website more frequently and we hope you will enjoy what we are providing, but also invite you to continue to give us feedback about what you need in terms of copyright information, guidance, or best practices.

Please see the following websites for more information:


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PCC offers this limited open forum as an extension of the respectful, well-reasoned discourse we expect in our classroom discussions. As such, we welcome all viewpoints, but monitor comments to be sure they stick to the topic and contribute to the conversation. We will remove them if they contain or link to abusive material, personal attacks, profanity, off-topic items, or spam. This is the same behavior we require in our hallways and classrooms. Our online spaces are no different.



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