VoiceThread is a learning technology that lets students and instructors collaboratively create a slideshow with video, audio, and text input. VoiceThread can be accessed through Standard mode or Universal mode. Universal mode is recommended by VoiceThread for screen reader users, and can be accessed at voicethread.colorado.edu/u. VoiceThread is also available as an integration in Canvas.
VoiceThread is supported fully for the latest versions of Firefox and Chrome. Learn more about VoiceThread browser requirements.
VoiceThread Accessibility Status
VoiceThread Standard is not accessible to screen reader users. VoiceThread Universal is largely operable by screen reader users, but has more limited functionality than Standard. The Canvas integration has not yet been tested for accessibility, but VoiceThread Universal is not currently available as part of the Canvas integration. See the Information for Instructors section for more information on how to support students who use screen readers with VoiceThread.
Statements on this page about the accessibility of VoiceThread are based on accessibility testing done in September 2017, and may no longer represent the current status of the software.
Information for Assistive Technology Users
Information for Screen Reader Users
The following issues have been noted in VoiceThread when accessed with a screen reader:
- When an external microphone is plugged in, the user is prompted to allow the microphone when leaving an audio or video comment. This popup prompt is difficult to find in order to select “allow,” and the user only has a 5-second countdown to accomplish this before the recording begins.
- The Standard version of VoiceThread is generally not accessible due to a lack of labeling, reliance on mouse-over actions, improperly structured or missing headings, poorly defined menus and lists, and poor focus handling.
- Comments cannot be added to VoiceThreads without use of the mouse.
- VoiceThreads are very difficult to access or edit without use of the mouse on the home page.
- Limited functionality compared to Standard; users are unable to rewind or back up in the media player, and are unable to add cover art.
- Users are unable to share VoiceThreads they created with others.
- VoiceThread Universal is unavailable within the assignments feature (a.k.a. Assignment Builder), which is a part of the Canvas integration. Therefore, VoiceThread assignments are not generally accessible to screen reader users.
- Tabbing between media player controls may cause video to play and pause unexpectedly.
- Audio comments are difficult to record due to countdown timer and difficulties stopping the recording. Audio comments are also not supported in Microsoft Edge.
- Headings and links are not all properly labeled.
Information for Screen Magnifier Users
- When an external microphone is plugged in, the user is prompted to allow the microphone when leaving an audio or video comment. This popup prompt is difficult to find in order to select “allow,” and the text is quite small. The user only has a 5-second countdown to accomplish this before the recording begins.
- Adding comments is difficult to do while using a screen magnifier due to the layout of commenting controls.
- The Standard version of VoiceThread has many instances of low color contrast. Consider using a browser plugin on this website to override style sheets with high contrast options.
- Success messages are displayed for only a few seconds after create and update actions, and may occur “offscreen” while using a magnifier.
- Many elements rely on mouseover to appear, and may be more difficult to access and view fully with a magnifier.
Information for Instructors
If you have a student using assistive technology in a course in which you utilize VoiceThread, please familiarize yourself with the limitations listed above for the particular type of assistive technology they use. If you have a student using a screen reader in your course, for example, they may encounter trouble in adding voice comments. Please also review the “Information for Content Creators” section below for details on creating accessible video content in VoiceThread.
In particular, note that students using screen readers will not be able to share a VoiceThread they have created with you or other students. To work around this, instead of asking students to create their own VoiceThreads and share with others, just have students comment on or add slides to a VoiceThread that you create.
Furthermore, students using screen readers may be unable to use VoiceThread through the Canvas integration. To work around this, a student using a screen reader can click the VoiceThread link in Canvas just once to be added to the VoiceThread course. They won’t be able to actually use VoiceThread from Canvas, but by clicking the link, they are automatically added to the course group and can then access the VoiceThreads you share by navigating directly to the VoiceThread Universal site, choosing Go to my VoiceThreads, then In my groups, and then selecting your course name.
Follow general video accessibility guidelines in creating video content for VoiceThread, such as narrating any visuals that appear in your video. For example, don’t use vague language like “This over here indicates…”. Instead, describe what you are referencing, like “This graph shows increasing purchases over time, which indicates…”. Recommend these practices to your students if they leave video comments as well.
If you have a student with a captioning accommodation in your course, please contact the campus captioning service to discuss how to proceed with captioning your VoiceThread content.
Information for Content Creators
To make the VoiceThreads you create accessible, consider adding closed captioning and describing the visual content of each slide. Below is a list of help articles that explain how to accomplish each task.
- Request closed captioning from the CU Boulder captioning service
- Create your own closed captions using DIY captioning tools like YouTube
- Add closed captioning to VoiceThreads
- Describe the visual content of each slide using the “Title” attribute
Please also reference OIT’s guidelines for creating accessible videos for additional recommendations.
Vendor Accessibility Information
- VoiceThread Accessibility Whitepaper: This document includes VoiceThread’s VPAT, which explains VoiceThread’s 508 compliance.
- VoiceThread accessibility website
Get Help or Provide Feedback
OIT has partnered with Disability Services to provide assistance for accessibility issues related to OIT supported services and we want to hear from you about this service. If you need assistance using this service or you have more information about the accessibility of this service that we should share with others, please contact the IT Service Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 303-735-4357.