West Texas A&M University
Universal Design for Online Materials

Universal Design: Auditory Differences

Meet Mason

Mason During Mason's childhood he experienced a severe illness which resulted in hearing loss. Mason has cochlear implants that allow him to decipher most speech, but his hearing loss significantly impacts his lifestyle and the way he accesses information. Mason is pursuing an online degree believing that this is a better option for him instead of sitting in a classroom with extra sounds and noises that may cause interference for his cochlear implants.

View a video demonstration of what it is like to hear through a cochlear implant.

Challenges for designing online materials for Mason

  • He is able to understand most clear speech due to his cochlear implant and with some lip reading but when there are extra sounds, background noise, or lack of clear audio, it is nearly impossible for him to gather any meaning.
  • Videos do not include synchronous captions so while Mason may be able to gather some meaning from visuals alone, most points are missed without the additional audio.
  • Anytime audio is central to gathering meaning or giving a message, unless there is also a visual element, the message will be lost on Mason.

Auditory Example

Additional Information

Why Captioning Matters

  • Captions are required to meet the WTAMU Web Accessibility Procedure as well at the Texas A&M System Policy.
  • Students with English as a Second Language (ESL) are better supported with synchronized text and audio/video.
  • Usability and support of various learning style/preferences is maximized for all students, including students with disabilities.
  • Audio only Transcripts (text-versions of audio) are helpful but captions (text synchronized with video) provide a more complete experience.