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Vimeo - Still Not A Viable Web Video Solution For Higher Education
February 6, 2011 - 8:00pm

I remember when I first watched a video on Vimeo. The video player was aesthetically pleasing and there were all sorts of wonderful videos to watch. I even purchased a Vimeo Plus account (enhanced features for a minimal fee) and started uploading my own videos to the site. I was, and still am, a fan of Vimeo as a great place to find fascinating web videos.

However, there is a major flaw with Vimeo and it has to do with accessibility. Vimeo does not offer any type of closed caption solution for uploaded videos. According to a 3-month-old post on the Vimeo forums, captioning is on the way, but a deadline has not been released. I'm skeptical. Vimeo has been without a caption/subtitle solution for a very long time. In fact, when I wrote about their lack of closed captions in 2009, their response was less than stellar.

How is this relevant to higher education? Well, for starters, accessible videos are an ethical mandate for all who create video content. We owe it to our various constituencies to create content that all can access. This means embedding videos that have captions.

When Brown University launched their new homepage design in September 2010, they used Vimeo for their featured videos. In December, I noticed that Brown University had switched from using non-captioned Vimeo videos to a more homegrown / captionable solution using the popular JW Player. Brown did the right thing by switching from Vimeo to an accessible solution.

Similar to Brown, Portland State University has started using Vimeo for video features on their homepage. It is my hope that PSU will follow Brown's lead and switch their videos to a web video solution that allows for closed captions / subtitles. To be fair, I didn't notice that they were using Vimeo until January. Perhaps PSU is looking into alternatives to Vimeo.

Fortunately, there are alternatives to using Vimeo. The JW Player that Brown uses is a great solution. YouTube offers terrific captioning functionality.

I truly hope that Vimeo will deliver captioning / subtitle functionality to their users this year. We've been waiting for a very long time.

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