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A Quick Guide to Creating Captions

Can You Give Me An Overview?

Captions are visible words synchronized with the audio portion of a video. Similar to subtitles, they appear at the bottom of the screen.  Properly formatted captions also identify speakers and may indicate music, laughter, or on-screen and background sound effects that contribute to understanding the action in the video. Though intended for those who cannot hear the audio content, captions are also useful for students whose primary language is not English, those who need to view video in a noisy environment, and students with certain types of learning disabilities who benefit when information is represented in multiple sensory modalities. Captions are also useful for students who must learn new terminologies, as the visual text is synchronized with the proper audio pronunciation of the term.

Why is it Important?

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504, and the Americans with Disabilities Act as Amended require Sauk Valley Community College to provide students with disabilities equal access to instructional materials. In addition, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended requires all agencies receiving federal funding, such as SVCC, to provide equal access to electronic and information technology to persons with disabilities.

The addition of captions to video content included in SVCC courses provides access to students with disabilities. Under the terms of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, captions must be included whether or not instructors receive notification that a student with a disability has requested accommodations since students are not required to disclose disabilities.

How Do I Get Started?

For help creating captions for your instructional videos, contact FaCIT staff.  For help locating or purchasing captioned content, contact LRC staff to assist you.

Faculty can easily create captioned videos using YouTube's Creator Studio.  See also help on uploading videos to YouTube. 

Generally accepted captioning standards to comply with ADA best practices;

  • Each caption frame should hold 1 to 3 lines of text onscreen at a time, viewable for 3 to 7 seconds. Each line should not exceed 32 characters.
  • Each caption frame should be replaced by another caption.
  • All caption frames should be precisely time-synched to the audio.
  • A caption frame should be repositioned on the screen if it obscures onscreen text or other essential visual elements.


Best Practices for caption style and formatting:

  • Spelling should be at least 99% accurate.
  • When multiple speakers are present, it is helpful to identify who is speaking, especially when the video does not make this clear.
  • Both upper and lowercase letters should be used.
  • The font should be a non-serif, such as Helvetica medium.
  • Non-speech sounds like [MUSIC] or [LAUGHTER] should be added in square brackets.
  • Punctuation should be used for maximum clarity in the text.
  • Captions should preserve and identify slang or accents.

What Are Some Examples?


Here's an example of what your transcript file might look like:

>> ALICE: Hi, my name is Alice Miller and this is John Brown
>> JOHN: and we're the owners of Miller Bakery.
>> ALICE: Today we'll be teaching you how to make our famous chocolate chip cookies!
[intro music]
Okay, so we have all the ingredients laid out here

Example Video, 

What Are Additional Resources?

Some of the content on this page was adapted from San Jose University's  Center for Faculty Development's web page, Captioning Support and Services

Google Help, “Transcripts”, https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2734799?hl=en. Pulled from the web on February 26, 2014.