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Captioning Videos

Captioning videos is legally required for almost all situations at the college. There are a number of good reasons to ensure that videos used in your class are captioned:

  • It helps students who may be watching your videos in noisy (and quiet) settings (e.g. the bus, at home after everyone else is asleep, at work, etc.);
  • It's culturally responsive - English Language Learners can often use the captions to better understand your materials; and
  • It's legally required for accessibility.

Many videos are already captioned

By law, most commercial videos should be captioned, including those provided by the publishers of your textbooks. Below are some tips for ensuring your commercially provided videos are captioned:

  • Directly request captioned versions of textbook videos from publishers. Get a confirmation in writing from the publisher representatives when reviewing textbooks. See this handy questionnaire.
  • Use sources that provide captioned videos, such as Films for Humanities/Sciences from the Library. (Learn more about FFH/S.)
  • Contact the Library Reference Desk for help with finding captioned videos.
  • Contact the IT Service Desk for help displaying captions on classroom computers.

Please note that Instructional Design does not caption commercially produced videos.

Permission may be required

If you are not the creator of the video, you may need to get permission to caption the videos. Not all situations are covered by Fair Use, either. There is no easy yes-or-no answer regarding permission or Fair Use.

Creating Captions

First, check to see if the video you are using is already captioned.

  • Turn on captions by clicking on the Closed-caption (CC) icon icon in the lower right corner of most video players.
  • Watch at least five minutes of the video with captions turned on. Many YouTube videos will show captions, but they use the voice-recognition tool and often badly garble the text. Often this is not evident until several minutes into the video.

Captioning a video is basically a three-step process:

  1. Create a transcript of the video
  2. Synchronize the words in the transcript to the video
  3. Publish the captions with the video

For the first two steps of captioning a video (transcribing and synchronizing), you can E-mail Us for assistance. You will need to provide:

  • A copy of the video in .mp4, .mov, .wmv, .avc/h.264, or .avi format.
  • Written or emailed verification that you have permission to copy and modify the video for captioning.
  • The date by which you need the captions (1-2 weeks notice required, depending on the length of the video).
  • A script or transcript, if one is available.
  • Please use the Captioning Worksheet if you have more than three videos.

If the video is shorter than two or three minutes, it is often faster and easier to caption the videos on your own.

Publishing captioned videos

Once the captions are created, you will receive a file that you can link to the video.