Video Accessibility & Captioning

What is Video Accessibility & Captioning?

Considerations surrounding both accessibility and captioning should be built into the design and workflow of any video project. By reviewing guidelines and current standards, your project has a greater chance of being successful for all students. 

A captioned video contains text that transcribes the narration and provides descriptions of the sounds and music that are present. There are two ways to caption a video:

  • Open captions – Caption text is burned onto the video image and cannot be toggled on or off.  Open captions are added with a video editing process.
  • Closed captions - A timed-text file is created by adding time codes to a transcript of the video. The captions can be toggled on or off, and player functionality is required in order to be view them. This is the most common approach to captioning.

Why is Video Accessibility & Captioning Important?

You may be wondering why accessibility matters. In addition to the legal reasons, such as ADA and section 504/508 compliance, universal design creates a better learning experience for all students. The universal design process provides a way to create instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for everyone—rather than a single, one-size-fits-all solution. Instructors should make sure that multimedia content used outside the classroom for instruction is accessible.

Adding captions to video content is advisable. The assumption is often that this is for use by people with hearing difficulties, but captions also benefit people who are not native speakers of the language used in the video, for those unfamiliar with the vocabulary of a discipline, and sometimes to allow interactive searches within the video.

Considerations for Accessibility & Captioning

Captioning for video and multimedia is the responsibility of the content owner. You are also responsible for ensuring the accessibility of any content you use but may not be the owner of. It is recommended that you work with a professional service to transcribe and caption your videos—they will work from your video to produce the caption file. If you choose to do it yourself, obtaining the transcript will be the biggest effort. If you are working from a script, use that to get started. Another option is automated speech to text which is available from various sources. Most of the time this is not accurate enough for good results, but editing is often much quicker than transcribing the material yourself.

Getting Started with Accessibility & Captioning

Student Disability Services (SDS) provides captioning services for qualified students with disabilities (primarily Deaf/Hard of Hearing). If using video content in a course in which captioning is needed, please contact the SDS office for assistance.

The Center has contracted with an external vendor to provide closed-captioning services. If you are interested in using this service, complete the Captioning Service Request Form, or contact us with questions at (607) 255-7224.

Contact the Center for more information on video accessibility & captioning or explore the Resource Library items on your own.