Section 508 Compliant Podcasting and Undue Burden November 22, 2006
Posted by Jeff in Podcast Accessibility, Podcast Captioning, Podcast Transcription, Podcasting.
In general, the purpose of section 508 is to build as much accessibility as is reasonably possible into general products developed, procured, maintained, or used by agencies. I received some email from my post yesterday about Section 508 Compliant Podcasts asking “What about undue burden?”
The actual wording of the text is… do all the accessibility things… “unless an undue burden would be placed on that agency to do so.”
Undue burden is defined as “significant difficulty or expense.” Though significant is relative, when it comes to podcasting, I believe we can break it down to the following:
To be 508 complaint, there are two main things you must do… certain podcasts meeting the agency mission criteria are under the multimedia file definition of the 508 standards and must be (1) captioned or (2) audio described depending on the format and content of the podcast.
Let’s start with (2) audio described. Laying a voice over track to video if you’re doing podcasting isn’t hard. This is something that you should be capable of and not a problem.
In contrast, (1) captioning is not in the typical suite of tools for a podcaster. So far, we have solved this issue with transcripts for audio podcasts, and there are companies that do this for you, or you can do your own transcription. Video podcasts require more time and effort. Though again, there are companies that will do captioning of video, it can sometimes be expensive to do so. Tools and software for closed captioning video are also fairly expensive and some podcatchers do not accept the file formats needed to caption the video.
I believe this is where undue burden can be applied. To the weekly podcaster who is podcasting as a hobby, closed captioning may be out of reach. I think you can safely say that undue burden is met at this point and you will provide a transcript of the audio with audio description to get as close to accessible as possible. For the company, university, or agency that is video podcasting, has a podcast meeting the agency mission criteria, and has the resources to open or close caption the video… I believe the law states that it needs to be captioned.