Accessible Instructional Materials - Creating Instructional Materials

This article contains frequently asked questions regarding the process of making instructional materials accessible to everyone.


What is the Accessible Technology Initiative?

The Accessible Technology Initiative is a California State University (CSU) campus wide project whose mission is to ensure that each CSU campus follows CSU policy and federal and state laws pertaining to access to information and technology. Sacramento State is dedicated to meeting the needs of persons with disabilities in all aspects of its academic programs and services. The university recognizes the importance of making its physical facilities as well as its information technology services accessible to serve the largest possible audience and ensure the campus is accessible by everyone.

  top of page

Where can I find information about the Accessible Technology Initiative?

You can find information about the ATI by visiting the Accessibility at Sacramento State website. This website was created to provide you detailed information about the ATI's 3 priority goals which include: Web Accessibility, Instructional Materials Accessibility, and Accessibility of Procurement of Electronic and Information Technology and information about how Sacramento State is implementing and addressing each area.


  top of page

What is assistive technology?

Assistive Technology are "products, devices or equipment, whether acquired commercially, modified or customized, that are used to maintain, increase or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities..."(Assistive Technology Act of 1998) Assistive technology can be hardware or software that enable users with disabilities to access information. Some examples of assistive technology software include:

  • Screen readers: software programs that present graphics and text as speech ( JAWS)
  • Screen magnifiers: programs that allow the user to enlarge everything on the screen ( ZoomText )
  • Scan/read software: scans information to the screen using optical character recognition and then "speaks" it out loud using text-to-speech ( Kurzweil)
  • Alternative input devices: allow individuals to control their computers through means other than a standard keyboard or pointing device ( National Center on Accessible Information Technology in Education)

  top of page

Is there a list of areas to cover when preparing an accessible course?

Some of the key areas include:

  • Textbooks - Have you submitted your textbook requests to the bookstore for Spring Semester? See Master Calendar of deadlines.
  • Syllabus - Is it in Electronic Format and readily available to students?
  • Videos and Audio - Are these captioned and/or transcribed?
  • Accessibility Training - Have you attended one of our accessibility workshops?

  top of page

Are training sessions available about creating accessible instructional materials?

Training sessions about how to create accessible materials in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Adobe Acrobat, and how to create an accessible syllabus are offered through the Academic Technology Center (ATC) at Sacramento State. We offer these training sessions during the Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters. To obtain more information and to sign up for training on instructional materials accessibility and web accessibility, visit the Academic Technology Center webpage.


  top of page

Where can I find training manuals, tutorials and other documentation that I can use to learn about creating accessible instructional materials in MS Word, MS PPT, and Adobe Acrobat?

You can find training materials to guide you through the process of creating accessible instructional materials by visiting the Creating Instructional Materials page. Through this webpage you can download training manuals for creating accessible content in Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, Adobe Acrobat, and how to create accessible webpages. Visit the Professional Development for Accessible Technology website, which is a CSU system wide resource for teaching and learning about accessible technology. This website will feature CSU faculty spotlights about faculty who are "taking the initiative" to make their courses accessible. It also offers ATI recommended training and tutorials for the development of accessible materials.


  top of page

What do I do if I need to caption and/or transcribe a video/audio file for a course I am teaching where a student who is deaf or hard of hearing is enrolled?

The best method for captioning a video is to upload the video to Mediasite and then submit it for captioning. Instructions can be found in the:

Uploading Existing Videos to Mediasite Article, and

Captioning Mediasite Videos Article

If you would like to caption video for YouTube or Vimeo, please fill out the Video Captioning Request Form. Please note that IRT does not provide support for Prezi or Real Media files.

  top of page

Is there an online form I can fill out to request captioning/transcription services?

Yes, complete the online captioning request form. Please submit requests at least two weeks before the date you will need the media to be captioned. Turnover of the captioned files depend largely on your promptness in submitting the request and on the size and duration of the media files. You will be asked to provide your name, SacLink email address, name of files, location, and copyright release information. You can also send an email to if you need captioning or transcription for a video/audio file.


  top of page

What is the cost to caption/transcribe video and audio for a course I am teaching?

If a student with a disability is enrolled in your course, captioning costs are covered through a limited captioning fund through the ATI. If you are a professor who does not have a student with a disability enrolled in your course but would like to start getting your videos and/or audio files captioned, you can email We do ask that you request this service at least 4 weeks in advance. There is no cost for this service.


  top of page

In how many days will my video/audio files be captioned/transcribed?

We ask faculty to allow at least 3 business days for their video/audio files to be captioned/transcribed. Turnover of captioned content depends on the file types, whether additional labor is required to edit these into the correct format for captioning and/or if the files are submitted in a timely manner for captioning.


  top of page

How much time in advance should I submit my video/audio files for these to be captioned/transcribed on time?

You need to submit video/audio files at least 2-3 weeks before the date that you will need them captioned.


  top of page

How will I get access to the captioned/transcribed media files to show in class and/or post to website/SacCT course?

If you are planning on having your students access the media files from your SacCT or Canvas course or from your faculty website, then we encourage you to upload the file into Mediasite. Both SacCT and Canvas contain Mediasite integrations that make it easy to add a video into your course page/module. Mediasite also provides you with web links and embed codes that you can use within your Faculty website for your students to access and view the streamed video/audio file over the web. If you require a physical copy of the captioned movie to show during the class session please plan to save the video to OneDrive or to a flash/thumb drive.


  top of page

Do I need to obtain copyright release to caption video/audio I will be using in my course?

Yes, before we can release the captioned videos and/or audio files, you will need to provide IRT proof of copyright release from the publisher of the video/audio. Contact the Instructional Materials Specialist at for assistance.


  top of page

How do I obtain copyright release to caption video/audio I will use in my class?

Copyright release (permission to create a captioned copy) of the video/audio file can be obtained by contacting the publisher of the media. Some publisher information is readily available by looking up the video/audio information and can be requested via a letter, email or phone call.


  top of page

What resources are free and available for me to caption/transcribe small clips I own?

If you would like to caption your own video and audio files, we recommend that you upload any of the following file types to Mediasite: FLV, MP4, MP3, MOV, WMV and AVI. After uploading the files you can then go into Mediasite's settings and select the captioning option to submit the video for captioning. The file will then be captioned by our vendor, AutomaticSync. Captions are typically available after three business days, and are automatically paired with your video. Students will need to click on the CC button within the video player in order to see the captions. Refer to the Academic Technology Center Mediasite page for Mediasite installation and training support.


You can also use Techsmith's Camtasia Studio to manually create captions. Camtasia is available for faculty and/or staff use only. In order to obtain a copy, please refer to the instructions on the IRT Software site.


  top of page

How do I know if a video I will use in class is closed-captioned?

How to Check if a Video or DVD has Captions or Subtitles:

  1. Check the Sacramento State Library Catalog (if you plan to borrow the film from the Library Film Collection) to see if it is closed-captioned. You can search by title in the Library Catalog Film Collection or view the list of Video Recordings For The Hearing Impaired.
  2. If you are bringing in your own video or DVD check the box/sleeve to see if it has one of the following symbols:
    • Closed Captioned for the Hearing Impaired
    • (CC)
    • Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing (SDH) (for DVD only)
  3. If you are still not sure if the video/DVD has captions or subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, please contact Services to Students with Disabilities (SSWD) at (916)278-6955. The SSWD office is located in Lassen Hall 1008 and is open from 8:00 am - 5:00 pm Monday-Friday (voice mail after hours) or you may e-mail SSWD at

  top of page

How to Show a Video with Captions or Subtitles in the Classroom

  1. If you have a DVD with Subtitles for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing (SDH), you can use a classroom computer's DVD player (e.g. Windows Media Player). To turn on captions or subtitles in Windows Media Player, press "Alt" to activate the menu bar, choose "Play," choose "Captions and Subtitles," and then choose "On if Available." If you are using a classroom DVD player, go to the "Set-up" or "Languages" page of the DVD menu using your remote control where you can activate the subtitles for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing. No closed-caption decoder is required for this step. Alternatively, if available, press the “CC” button on the podium control panel in the classroom to play a DVD with subtitles.
  2. For digital or cloud-based video (e.g., YouTube) locate the "CC" button within the video player. Toggle it on for captions to appear.
  3. Please contact Learning Space Services via the Service Desk (278-7337, ARC 2005 or

    What To Do If the DVD is not Captioned:
    • If the DVD you are bringing in or the existing title in the Library Film Collection is not closed-captioned, you can conduct a search for a captioned copy in the marketplace using the Described and Captioned Media Program administered through the National Association of the Deaf, or to get information on agencies that will caption the video. If there is a captioned copy available, it can be purchased with your department's approval. Faculty can also edit their video and audio using Camtasia Studio software by contacting the Service Desk (278-7337, ARC 2005 or to request a copy of the software.
    • Otherwise, please contact Services to Students with Disabilities (SSWD) at (916) 278-6955 to discuss alternatives that will provide your Deaf or hard-of-hearing student with access to the material.

  top of page

How do I convert VHS or DVD content to MP4 or some other digital format?

In some instances Creative Services is able to assist in converting VHS and DVD content to a digital format. Please contact [ Creative Services by email], phone at (916) 278-5756, or in-person by visiting Lib-15 (South).

  top of page

Where can I look up closed-captioned copies of the video/audio I want to use in class?

There are several media repositories that can be used to browse through closed-captioned titles. These include: The Described and Captioned Media Program, the Alternate Media eXchange database (AMX) which can be accessed by the Alternate Media Staff in the SSWD office, and the Library Catalog can be used to learn if the video you will check out is captioned or not.


  top of page

What do I do if I cannot find a closed captioned copy of the video/audio I will use in class and I cannot have the school caption/transcribe the media in time to use for my course where a student who is deaf or hard of hearing is enrolled?

You will need to work with the Services to Students with Disabilities Office to have an accommodation be provided to the student in order for them to access the media content for the course. If the video/audio is essential to the teaching of your course, please contact Services to Students with Disabilities (SSWD) at (916) 278-6955 to discuss alternatives that will provide the student who is Deaf or hard-of-hearing with access to the video.


  top of page

Whom do I contact if I have questions about captioning video/audio I will use in my course?

Contact the Instructional Materials Specialist or visit the Academic Technology Center in AIRC 2005.


  top of page

I received a letter from the office of Services to Students With Disabilities notifying me that a student enrolled in my class has print/audio related needs, what do I do and who should I contact?

Services to Students with Disabilities will notify you if we require anything from you such as a copy of your course syllabus and other course materials that may need to be converted into an alternate format for the student to be able to access. If you have questions please contact the Services to Students with Disabilities Office at 278-6955.


  top of page

Where can I look up e-text (electronic text) versions of the textbooks I will use in my course?

You can look up e-text (electronic text) versions of the textbooks by checking out the following links.

  top of page

Who should I contact if I need help converting text books into alternate formats for a student with a disability enrolled in my course?

If you have questions about textbook conversion into alternate formats, you can contact the Alternative Media Specialist, at (916) 278-7915 or e-mail


  top of page

Whom should I contact for help on creating accessible instructional materials for my course?

Contact the Instructional Materials Specialist, Ed Ruiz, or (916) 278-2450.


  top of page

Where can I download the accessible syllabus templates?

The Accessible Syllabus Template can be downloaded by visiting the Academic Technology and Creative Services (ATCS) Syllabus Templates webpage.


  top of page

Where can I obtain more information about the resources and services available to students registered with the office of Services to Students with Disabilities?

You can visit the Services to Students with Disabilities (SSWD) website to obtain more information.

  top of page