Recently, one of my friends was talking about how they had trouble watching movies in their classes due to their low vision, because they had trouble focusing on the screen and often had to take breaks due to eyestrain. Another friend shared that they had the same problem and ended up watching the same movie outside of class because they had so much difficulty trying to follow along in class. However, there are several options for how to make classroom videos easier to see without impacting the viewing experience for everyone, so today I will be sharing my tips for non-intrusive accommodations for watching videos in class.
Sit closer to the screen
In one of the classrooms at my university, it’s difficult for students in the front row to see what is projected on the board, which can be frustrating when watching videos in class. When I mentioned this to the professor, they told the entire class that students were welcome to shift desks to be closer/further away from the screen as needed, or that we could sit on the floor on beanbag chairs and adjust seating accordingly. I ended up sitting in a beanbag chair with one of my friends right near the front and was able to see everything that was going on.
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Watch the video on a separate device
Whenever I would watch a movie with my friend in high school, I would play the movie on the TV screen and have it playing at the same time on my iPad so I could see the screen better. I’ve done this in a few college classes as well, muting the audio so it would sync with the video playing in the classroom. This was especially helpful when I had to take notes on different visuals
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Use a device like Chromecast to mirror the screen
Some people prefer to watch movies on a larger screen, so in these cases I would use a device like the Chromecast to mirror the screen so the video can be played on the different screen. There are other free video mirroring tools available, but I prefer to use the low-cost Chromecast since it can mirror videos without any decreased resolution and it’s easy to use as well.
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Sit at the teacher’s computer
On the first day of my computational social science class, my teacher showed us a video that was almost impossible for me to see. My professor noticed that I was having trouble seeing the video and suggested I sit at their computer so I could focus on the screen, which ended up working out really well. None of the other students seemed to notice or care that I was sitting at the professor’s desk, as everyone else was focused on the movie.
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Adjust classroom lighting
All of my friends have different lighting preferences for how they watch movies and videos, and lighting can have a major effect on how well they are able to see what is going on. Don’t be afraid to share your own lighting preferences and see if there is a way to adjust classroom or overhead lighting to be more or less dim.
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Add audio description
My absolute favorite way to make videos easier to watch is by adding audio description tracks. While most videos do not have audio description by default, there are websites and organizations such as YouDescribe, the Described and Captioned Media Project, and more that allow users to access educational videos with audio description for people with visual impairments. At my college, professors can also request audio description for videos from the campus assistive technology department or specialist.
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Watching videos and movies in class is a fun experience for students of all vision levels. By ensuring that people know how to make classroom videos easier to see, the watching experience can be improved for everyone and no one is left wondering what is happening onscreen or feeling left out for not being able to see the board.