Closed Captioning (Why and How?)

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Video Captions

For videos to be accessible they must have captions.  Captions are often referred to as open or closed. Open captions means that the video’s captions are burned into the image and cannot be turned off.  Closed captions on the other hand allow the user to choose to have the captions either on or off. It is preferable to use closed captions because it allows students who may find captions distracting, such as students with attention disorders, the ability to turn them off.

Videos that you have created can be captioned in Kaltura* or YouTube. If you do not own the video and it is hosted on YouTube or another website, contact the video or website owner to ask if they would be willing to caption the video. If the video is on YouTube the owner also has the option to allow for community submitted captions which would allow you to then caption the video yourself.  If it is a DVD, first check to see if the DVD is captioned as most are already captioned. If the DVD is not captioned, contact the company and inquire about captioning. Sometimes, the company will have an alternative format that they can make available.

Captions are not only beneficial to students with hearing impairments, but also, students may use video captions if they are watching the video in a quiet space, such as a library, that would prohibit them from listening to the video’s audio out loud. Furthermore, students without hearing impairments could prefer to use captions while watching videos for other learning purposes such as focus and better retention. Oregon State University’s Ecampus Research Unit conducted a study in collaboration with 3Play Media on students’ caption use.  The video below, “College Student Uses and Perceptions of Closed Captions and Transcripts,” provides a summary of the study’s findings.

Captions may also be useful when conducting virtual meetings, both Zoom* and Google Hangouts* offer opportunities for students and faculty to communicate through text as well as voice and video.

College Student Uses and Perceptions of Closed Captions and Transcripts:

How to caption at VCU

Guide to Captioning at VCU by SAEO:

VCU Web Standards in Captioning:

How to do captions in Kaltura:


Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay

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