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Captioning for the Classroom and Web: How and Why to Caption Your Video Content

Submitted by stauffeg on Thu, 01/18/2018 - 2:56 PM

Do you have video content in your course or on your departmental website? Consider captioning it!

Captioning is a useful but underutilized pedagogical tool. It allows students with hearing disabilities to access your course content, and improves comprehension for students whose first language is not English. Captions also benefit students who learn best by reading, and help all students learn in courses with difficult technical vocabulary. Learn more about the benefits of captioning for students from Oregon State’s Student Uses and Perceptions of Closed Captions & Transcripts report summary.

If you host your videos on YouTube, adding captions will create a searchable interactive transcript. This allows students to review your material more efficiently by skipping directly to the content they want to study. It also allows search engines to more effectively find your content in search results.

In certain cases, you may be required to caption your videos. The CU Boulder Policy Standards on the Accessibility of Information and Communication Technology establish that any public-facing videos associated with a department or the university must be captioned. In order to help you meet these requirements, the OIT captioning service was created to assist faculty, staff, and students with captioning videos.

So how can you start captioning your own videos?

  1. Pay for an external vendor to caption them. This typically runs about $1 per minute of video. The OIT captioning service has relationships with several vendors, and can facilitate this process.
    The captioning service has a captioning grant that you can apply for to caption public-facing video content. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
  2. Do it yourself. There are a number of software tools to help you create your own captions. One easy and free online tool is YouTube’s captioning editor. Tutorials for this editor are available on the OIT captioning service resources page. The resources page also contains a Captioning Standards for Quality Checklist to help you caption according to conventions.
    If you’ve previously purchased Camtasia to create your own screencasts, you can use that software to create searchable captions for your videos. Check out the Camtasia Caption Series for more details.
  3. Ask your TAs, graduate assistants, or students to help. Captioning videos is a great way for your students to review course material. Consider offering captioning as an extra credit assignment or assigning a video to each student to caption. lets students collaborate to create caption files for any video hosted publicly on the web, and allows users to export caption files that can be uploaded to YouTube or Kaltura later.
    The OIT captioning service is able to provide trainings for your students or assistants on captioning software and techniques.

Still have questions about captioning, or need assistance implementing one of the solutions above? We are happy to help. You can schedule a training, consultation, or request assistance by contacting the captioning service at or at (303) 735-4357.