Definitions - Multimedia

Accessibility - utilizing flexible technologies to make electronic and information resources (EIR) available to a variety of users, taking into account their abilities and preferences; may refer to the removal of barriers that make it difficult or impossible for individuals with disabilities to utilize EIR.

Accommodation - providing an individual with visual, hearing, motor skill, and/or cognitive disabilities alternative means of access (to EIR) if the existing mode of delivery of those resources is not fully accessible to them. At Texas A&M University, accommodations must be provided for those individuals who have registered through our Disability Resources office. See examples of classroom accommodations in the Disability Resources Faculty Guide.

Audio descriptions - commentary and narration which guides the listener through a video or presentation with concise, objective descriptions of scenes, settings, costumes, body language, etc. Audio descriptions are intended for users with visual disabilities, providing additional information about what is visible on the screen—such as actions, scene changes, facial expressions and on-screen text.

Captioning - the process of converting the audio content of a television broadcast, webcast, film, video, CD-ROM, DVD, live event, or other productions into text and displaying the text on a screen, monitor, or other visual display system, and then synchronizing it with the media so that the text can be viewed at the same time that the words are being spoken. Closed captions can be built from a transcript by breaking the text up into small segments called caption frames, and synchronizing them with the media, so that each caption frame can be displayed at the right time.

Captions - display words as the textual equivalent of spoken dialogue or narration, and they also include speaker identification, sound effects, and music description. According to the National Association of the Deaf, captions should be: (1) synchronized and appear at approximately the same time as the audio is delivered; (2) equivalent and equal in content to that of the audio, including speaker identification and sound effects; and (3) accessible and readily available to those who need or want them. Captions must have sufficient size and contrast to ensure readability, and be timely, accurate, complete, and efficient.  When displayed, captions must be in the same line of sight as any corresponding visual information, such as a video, speaker, field of play, activity, or exhibition.

  • Closed captions - when captions are visible only when selected and activated, such as when they are visible on a television screen. Closed captions are typically located underneath the video or overlaid on top of the video. Closed captions communicate all audio information, including sound effects and non-speech elements.
  • Open captions - when captions cannot be selected or activated, such as when they are permanently embedded in the audiovisual material. This practice can be distracting to some users.

Disability - according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or mor of major life activities, a record of such impairment, or being regarded as having such an impairment. Disabilities may include, but are not limited to vision loss, blindness, and color blindness; deaf and hard of hearing; cognitive issues; and loss of motor skills.

Multimedia - the integration of multiple forms of media which may include text, graphics, audio, video, and more. For example, a presentation involving audio and video clips would be considered a "multimedia presentation." Educational software that involves animations, sound, and text is called "multimedia software." 

Transcript - the textual version of the multimedia audio content that contains additional descriptions, explanations, or comments such as auditory action and background noise. A transcript is usually a text document without any time information.

Universal Design - the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.  The intent of UD is to simplify life for everyone by making products, communications, and the built environment more usable by as many people as possible at little or no extra cost. Universal design benefits people of all ages and abilities. A common example of UD is providing videos which are closed captioned. See additional examples of Universal Design in the Disability Resources Faculty Guide.


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