For many organizations, an important aspect of e-learning development is to make course modules more accessible to comply with Section 508 or WCAG 2.0 guidelines. One key way to boost the accessibility of your project is to add closed captioning so people with hearing difficulties can still get all of the information offered in your course.
In this post, I’ve included three ways to add closed captions to your project as well as the pros and cons of each method. And I’ve included a published example and the source file to help you visualize each method. Take a moment to explore this example and then I’ll walk you through each approach to adding closed captioning.
The markers in Articulate Storyline 2 are quite versatile and are the simplest way to add your audio text to the screen. Here’s what you need to do:
Go to the Insert tab and then the Markers area:
Select your icon (I like the speech bubble):
Then click on the slide where you want to place the marker and add your audio text to the label:
Depending on where you place your marker on the slide, you may need to adjust the size and position of the label.
Pros: A quick and easy way to add the audio text to each screen.
Cons: All the text is displayed at the same time, which means learners must read through all of the text while simultaneously keeping up with what’s happening on the screen. If you keep the label small, learners will need to use the scroll bar to move through the text—which is fine if your learners use the mouse but order to meet the accessibility requirements, learners must be able to navigate through the course using the keyboard (tab key, enter key and arrow keys). So learners who navigate only with the keyboard won’t be able to read all of the text in the label because the scroll bars can’t be moved using keyboard commands. Additionally, if there’s a lot of audio, the large label size could obstruct the screen and cause learners to miss essential on-screen information beneath it.
Use the Notes Panel
This is another fairly simple method to use, but you will have to go through a few steps to set everything up. Here’s what you need to do:
In slide view, go to the Notes area and add your audio text to each slide:
Then go to Player settings from the Home tab:
In the Player Tabs area, check the box next to Notes (you can also use the arrows to move the notes from the Sidebar to the Topbar):
Anything in the Notes area will now be visible. However, it’s a good idea to change the name to something meaningful for learners. In this example, you’ll want to make sure they know this is where they can access the audio transcript, so you could change it to “Audio.”
While still in the Player settings, go to the Text Labels area:
Then scroll down to number 42, the Notes Tab:
You can rename the Custom Text (Notes) by double-clicking on the word and changing it to something the user can easily identify—for example, Audio:
Then select Update Preview to see the change, followed by OK to save the changes.
Pros: Fairly easy to set up. You have some flexibility on what you call the tab and where you display it.
Cons: All the text is displayed at the same time, and if there’s a lot of text, a scroll bar appears. Similar to with markers, this doesn’t work for learners who use only the keyboard to navigate the course.
Though this is the most complex of the three methods, in my opinion it produces the best result because the captions are dynamic and are displayed in sync with the audio rather than all at once.
Before you begin, check out this handy post Tom Kuhlmann wrote about doing this with video clips. I’ve used a similar method here, but I’ve included a true/false variable to allow the user to turn the captioning on and a text variable to display my audio text.
The first thing is to add the variables to the project by going to the Manage Project Variables area near the Triggers panel (it’s the little x in brackets to the right of the trigger buttons):
Then, when the project variables window opens, add the variables by clicking on the blue plus symbol in the bottom left. I’ve used a text variable called “Caption,” which will display my audio text, and a true/false variable, “CaptionOn,” which will determine whether my text is visible:
On a slide I added two buttons—“Yes” and “No”—asked learners whether they’d like to use closed captions for the module. I also added the following trigger to this slide to make the captions visible if the user selects “Yes”:
On the next slide I added a black rectangle with a reference to my text variable:
This rectangle has a Change of State trigger on it, which means the rectangle will be hidden if learners select “No” on the previous slide (and visible if they select “Yes”):
Next, I took my audio script and broke it into small chunks. I used Cue Points to mark the start of each piece of text I wanted to display. Then I added triggers like this for each chunk:
For each trigger, the value becomes the piece of text you want to display within the rectangle.
Pros: Users can turn captions on or off. Creates a dynamic closed-captioning effect.
Cons: Takes longer to create.
There you have it! Three awesome ways to add an audio transcript to your Storyline 2 project. If you have other ways to add audio text to your project, please let me know in the comments below.