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Making ClipFlair Activities Accessible

5/20/2014        Other articles by: rociobanos

The purpose of this post is to make suggestions for teachers to make sure the content they include in ClipFlair activities is accessible to the whole learning community, including students with disabilities. The post has been written by Emmanouela Patiniotaki, Teaching Fellow at University College London. Emmanouela is interested in Accessibility, especially in Online Education, combining the fields of Audiovisual Translation and Assistive Technologies. She has been working as a language specialist and teacher of English and Greek since 2004.


The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international group whose main aim is to develop protocols and guidelines for the best functionality of the Web. These guidelines involve the Web for All design principle that is largely based on the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). While the latest step in making web content and applications more accessible to people with disabilities has already began to claim its place through the lately published Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA) 1.0 (2014) in a form of recommendation by the W3C, there are various ways to turn existing learning tools and platforms into useful accessible learning contexts by making learning content accessible.

According to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 (2008), web content should satisfy four main criteria, presented with focus on aspects that can be managed by language teachers:

1. It has to be perceivable through the provision of text alternatives for any non-text content (e.g. images) so that it can take various forms to cater for several needs. Time-based media need to be provided with alternatives (i.e. transcripts, captions, audio description). Content should also be available in simpler layouts while retaining its structure. The context should be distinguishable (including choice of colours).

2. It needs to be operable, meaning that users can handle it through their keyboards, they are given enough time to read and use the content, content has to be designed in a way that does not cause seizures and help must be provided for users in terms of navigation, content management and location of items.

3. Content needs to be understandable, i.e. given in simple language that can be understood by every user. Also it needs to be provided with consistency and instructions must be provided whenever user input is required.

4. It has to be robust so that it can be reliably interpreted by a variety of user agents, including assistive technologies (names, roles and values can be programmatically determined for all user interface components).

Testing the ClipFlair activity interface

In order to make suggestions to teachers so as to consider accessibility of the content they include in ClipFlair activities, the following tests were performed:

  • -          Colour contrast on existing templates.
  • -          Text size on existing activities.
  • -          Supplementary information for non-text elements.
  • -          Instructions for the use of each element and language.

How can the above be incorporated in your activities?

As teachers, the extent to which you can make online content accessible can sometimes be restricted. However, there are always alternatives for online content management and combined to the various options included in the design of the ClipFlair platform, with a little imagination, you can make your classes fully accessible!

You might be teaching in a class with students with sensory impairments or limited physical abilities. In order to help your students access your activities at the same level as all students, you need to be prepared to do the following:

1.       Export all the material included in the activity so that is readable and manageable through reading devices and with the use of a keyboard.

You can provide an editable file (e.g. Word file) with a link to the video. Be careful! The link should lead to an accessible website where users are able to manage start and pause actions of the video player included. You can select to export any other content you include in your activities simply by saving as .txt. You can then copy and paste the content of each component to the same editable file. Remember that you can directly print the content, which is a very useful function in case you have the right equipment for embossed printing. You can also use a text-to-Braille translator and provide documents directly in Braille.

Be very careful to include distinctive headings for each component and make sure you add all the necessary links to online content (usually the ClipFlair website for instructions and more information). You can use freeware for screen-reading in class, like Chrome Vox, in order to read the ClipFlair website pages.

2.       Make sure you select activities that keep all students included and trained at the same level. In the case of sensory impairments, ClipFlair can act as an ideal tool for the creation of accessible audiovisual content. While your students work on subtitling and revoicing activities, you can create parallel activities whereby your prototypes can act as alternatives and do your best to incorporate universal design principles when designing activities. (For more information on Universal Design for Learning, see here goo.gl/Qnl1ts).

Also, make sure you provide sufficient information and guidance about how each component should be used and what is the aim of each action within ClipFlair.

3.       Make your components big enough when you prepare your activities. The text has to be clear and visible. Remember you can configure the settings for each components, where you can configure the zoom of the component, as well as its opacity.

From the settings, you can also change the colour of each component. Remember that this is a very important setting. You can use the free WebAIM tool to check colour contrast for each of your components (available here: goo.gl/qokJZ).

Whenever you include images in your activities, make sure that the heading of each image describes it sufficiently. When downloading the image to include it in the editable file, make sure this description is also available, either as a label or as an alternative text. When you load your clip, avoid selecting the auto playing option.

Further suggestions

These guidelines do not only apply to language learning activities. Based on the above, you can use ClipFlair as a means to provide accessible audiovisual material for various types of learning activities, enhancing participation of all learners. In this context, the platform can be used as an accessibility tool since it has been designed with Audiovisual Translation principles in mind, allowing for accurate recording and subtitling for such purposes.

The flexibility of its user interface, can turn ClipFlair into a multipurpose learning tool. While subtitling and revoicing have often been discussed for their usefulness in education, the idea of a centralized learning environment that can accommodate video, audio and text, can set the grounds for creative classroom organization.

Why not use the video option to upload your online course tutorial or your power-point presentation, add subtitles to make it more accessible for deaf and hard-of-hearing students or translations through subtitling or revoicing for accessibility in various languages? How about improving writing skills on an intralingual basis? There are so many options in education and with such a powerful platform, they seem unlimited when imagination is there.



Craig, J. & Cooper, M. (eds.) (On behalf of W3C). 2014. Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA) 1.0. [Available at: www.w3.org/TR/wai-aria/.]

Caldwell, B., Cooper, M., Guarino Reid, L., Vanderheiden, G. (eds.) (On behalf of W3C). 2008. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. [Available at: www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/.]

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