Creating and Transcribing the Interactive Multimedia Image: Using Visuals to Organize Lectures while Addressing ADA

Concurrent Session 10

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

A well-chosen visual can provide the guiding structure for a block of content, enhancing student understanding and engagement, but how do educators offer textual equivalents that meet WCAG 2.0 guidelines? This presentation provides tips and tools for effectively organizing multimedia content around a single image while addressing diverse learners’ needs.


Mary Ann Nestmann is an educator, researcher, and instructional designer with a passion for making learning fun. In addition to earning an M.A.T. in Elementary Education and an M.S.Ed in Instructional Systems Design, she has 9 years of experience working in higher education, from teaching developmental writing courses to assisting faculty with course design. She has taught workshops on aligning course activities and assessments with learning outcomes, teaching multimodal communication, and incorporating emerging technologies into instruction. Her research interests include using interactive narrative in instruction, developing effective online discussions, and the gamification of learning.

Extended Abstract

Many online university courses are structured as pages of text with some videos and images embedded on the page to add multimodal variety. However, images can do more than merely supplement content. A well-chosen image or graphic can help organize and frame a body of information. Setting up a lecture as an interactive image can help students to conceptualize overarching principles and how ideas are related to each other. As a result, students may have an easier time understanding and remembering the content. The visual also makes the course page appear more interesting and therefore may improve student engagement with the content.

Numerous online tools, such as Prezi, ThingLink, and infographic generators have existed for years, and make it easy to create interactive images for use in this way, but instructors may encounter a couple of obstacles to transitioning to the visual lecture. First, using a tool like Prezi or ThingLink requires a paradigm shift from the more linear thought processes that go into organizing ideas through traditional platforms, such as PowerPoint, text, or even video. Students have more freedom in how they peruse the content embedded in an image, so instructors must consider and plan for multiple pathways through the content, or use established visual design principles to direct students through the content. One can’t assume that any image will suffice. The base visual must be meaningful, both for how it represents the relationships between key concepts as well as how it prompts students to interact with it.

Secondly, a more problematic concern is how to render the information in an equivalent form for students with visual or mobility impairments. These online tools are notably inaccessible for students with visual impairments, and some of them can’t be navigated with a keyboard. This problem poses the greatest barrier to using the tools in course design, but such doesn’t have to be the case. An interactive image can be transcribed in a similar process to transcribing a video, although the resulting transcript will also be an interactive document and contain rich as opposed to plain text. An interactive image transcript offers students a description of the image organized into appropriate sections with links to online content and other transcripts (for any embedded videos and podcasts). Although the process transforms the lecture back into a linear format, the use of section headings and meaningful link names (which are themselves necessary requirements for accessibility) enables users to navigate the document as they need.

This presentation will walk participants through the process of successfully using the visual lecture format to address both of these concerns, from identifying an appropriate image to using available tools to structure course content and then a process for transcribing the lecture.

Learning Outcomes:

Through this session, participants will learn how to:

  • Locate images online without violating copyright.
  • Select or design an appropriate image or graphic as the basis for a visual lecture.
  • Organize content within a visual frame to enhance student understanding.
  • Utilize free online tools such as Piktochart, Prezi, and ThingLink to create interactive images.
  • Transcribe an interactive image (including embedded videos, links, podcasts, and related images) into a coherent textual equivalent for students with visual difficulty.
  • Apply accessibility guidelines on using style headings and meaningful link names.


This presentation is primarily aimed at people teaching online courses in higher education, but would be appropriate for participants designing training content for K-12 or industry as well.