Students Create Captions for OPC Archive, Collaborate on Accessibility Efforts

Students Create Captions for OPC Archive, Collaborate on Accessibility Efforts

May 17, 2024

Still a person introducing a speaker at a podium, with a screenshot of closed captions beneath

Initiated in 2007 by artist Tania Bruguera along with a committee of other University of Chicago members, the Open Practice Committee (OPC) invites artists, critics, and curators of contemporary art to address the campus community to explore the atmospheres and attitudes that make art contemporary. From the conventional departmental presentation to the unconventional institutional event, the OPC aims to advance our collective understanding of theory and practice within the visual arts.

Jump started by Zachary Cahill, who managed the OPC programming from 2007-2016, the Open Practice Committee in the Department of Visual Arts began collaborating with the Visual Resources Center (VRC) in the Department of Art History in 2017 to host the video archive of OPC events in LUNA. There are currently more than 100 event recordings available for the campus arts community to explore, including artists at UChicago such as Scott Wolniak, Laura Letinsky, Jason Salavon, Matthew Jesse Jackson, Jessica Stockholder, Theaster Gates, Catherine Sullivan, and Geof Oppenheimer. Major artists, critics, and curators in the contemporary art world such as Arturo Herrera, Glen Ligon, Michael Rakowitz, Helen Molesworth, Melanie Smith, Kevin Beasley, T.J. Clark, Wong Ping, Peggy Ahwesh, Aki Sasamoto and David Joselit have also shared their work through the OPC. To explore the full OPC Archive on LUNA, please log in with your CNetID and password first. 

Unfortunately, while members of the UChicago community can access and play the videos on LUNA, the OPC recordings may not be accessible to all users. As the Center for Digital Accessibility (CDA) advocates, “Without providing appropriate alternative formats such as captions and transcripts, the multimedia content is inaccessible to people who are unable to hear audio and to blind people … Alternative media formats can benefit all people, including those with learning disabilities, non-English language speakers, people in noisy environments, or when the material contains proper names or technical references.” 

The OPC and VRC grasped an opportunity to improve the digital accessibility of the OPC Archive on LUNA by collaborating with students to provide accurate, human-corrected closed captions. OPC events often discuss artworks, people, places, events, and concepts that automatic speech generators cannot process correctly, and UChicago students’ specialized knowledge in art and art history are crucial to making a high-quality transcript. 

The VRC and OPC are thrilled to announce more than 30 recordings in the OPC Archive now have closed captions available. In Spring 2023 and Spring 2024, the Department of Visual Arts and the Department of Art History generously funded students’ work to review and correct automatic transcripts using their expertise and research skills. We’re excited to collaborate with students in both departments and at all levels, including BA, MFA, MA, and PhD, on this project. Explore all videos in the OPC Archive with captions.

The students who signed up to caption a video received a stipend for their time and expertise, and gained skills and experience for working with captions and transcripts in practice. There are also valuable tie-ins to current teaching—last year’s Earthworks Revisited seminar taught by Professor Christine Mehring spent time on Robert Morris’s work, and a student in the course captioned his 2013 Presidential Arts Fellow lecture co-sponsored by the OPC. And Professor Claudia Brittenham taught Balam Bartolomé’s work in her Postcolumbian seminar this past autumn.

The ongoing project to make the OPC Archive on LUNA more accessible was presented at the CDA’s virtual event, Sharing Stories of Progress, Friday, May 17, 10-10:45am as part of their activities to celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD).

Project collaborators Zespo (OPC), Allie Scholten and Bridget Madden (VRC) would like to extend hearty thanks to all the students who have helped make the archive more accessible so far, including: 

Spring 2024 students:

Adriana Obiols Roca, Aidan Valente, Amanda Chacón, Anju Lukose-Scott, Arielle Roane, Betty Kim, Chloe Zhong, Christian Bumala, Emma Huerta, Jiahe Wang, Katharine Richardson, Kendra Thornburgh-Mueller, Lucia Neirotti, Miao Wang, Natalie Jenkins, Rafaela Grieco-Freeman, Sofia Ortega-Guerrero, Tianjiao Wang, Tommy Lee, Yves Cao, and Zakaria Sadak.

Spring 2023 students:

Adriana Obiols Roca, Anatoli Karapanagiotidou, Arnie Campa, Belle Nahoom, Caleb Clemente, Cecille Graham, Dallas Knox, Erin Gregory, Evelyn Andreoli, Jiahe Wang, Justin Vainder, Mouse Rikala, Natalie Jenkins, Qiuchen Wu, Seth Nguyen, and Yao Xiao. 

The project collaborators would like also to extend special thanks to campus colleagues including:

- Eleanor Timmerman, HR Administrator, Division of the Humanities
- Alison La Tendresse, Associate Director, Programs and Student Affairs, Department of Visual Arts
- Alyssa Miller, Financial and Academic Affairs Administrator, Department of Art History
- David Bietila, Web Program Director, Christina Miranda, Head of Digitization, Katherine Olson, Digitization Coordinator, and other members of the University of Chicago Library’s Digital Collections Working Group for their advice on alternative formats for digital collections and accessibility metadata 
- Pat Kogos, Director of the Center for Digital Accessibility, Emily Baker, Accessible Technology Specialist, and other members of the Center for Digital Accessibility team for their resources, support, and advocacy
- Zachary Cahill, Director of Programs and Fellowship, Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry

The project collaborators hope to continue offering annual paid opportunities for students to prepare captions for OPC events, and will share more information next spring! To request an accommodation or alternative format for recordings in the OPC Archive or other LUNA digital collections, we invite you to please Request an Accommodation or Alternative Format of LUNA Item