Captioning - FAQ

Last Updated: 02/14/2018
Do I have to caption my media?

According to the University’s Policies and Standards, if a student registered with Disability Services makes a captioning accommodation request, faculty must make arrangements for their course material to be captioned.


Additionally, any public-facing media relating to your department or representing the University needs to be captioned. Public-facing means that the media is available to non-University members and you don’t need to log in with an Identikey to access the content.

Although captioning is only required for captioning accommodation requests and public-facing videos, we encourage you to select and design materials that are accessible to all students. If you are obtaining media through the library you should request a captioned version of the materials whenever possible. For assistance with selecting and developing Universally Designed materials, please contact the IT Service Center

I am a student that has a captioning accommodation registered with Disability Services. How do I go about requesting captioning?

Let your instructor know that you have a captioning accommodation and that if media is going to be used in the course, it will need to be captioned. Your instructor should then fill out the captioning service request form.

I am a faculty member who has received a captioning accommodation request. What do I do? How will this impact my course?

You will need to plan ahead to ensure that any audio or video course materials you use for the remainder of the semester are accessible to the student. The student does not need to request captioning for every individual piece of media that will be used; the request applies to all media that will be used in class or that students will view outside of class.

Once you receive an accommodation request, please identify all media you will be using for the rest of the semester and the dates on which the students will first need to view each item. There is a 5-day period to arrange for captioning after you receive the accommodation request; after that, any audiovisual media used for your class must have captions available when it is first shown or made available to the students.

If the media you are using for your class does not have captions, you will need to request captioning from the captioning service at least one week before the media is needed, or you may need to make an alternate selection. This may limit your flexibility to make changes to the media you plan to use in class; you must ensure that any media you want to add at the last minute has accurate captions already available.

If you plan to show a YouTube video and it appears to have closed captioning enabled already, check that the captions are not auto-generated. Auto-generated captions are not accurate enough to use for your class. If the video only has auto-generated captions, you will need to get the video manually captioned by the captioning service.

Although you may receive a notice from Disability Services that you have a student in your course with a captioning accommodation, you do not have to caption the materials until the student contacts you to directly request the captioning accommodation.

If I am using media in YouTube, can I just advise students to turn on closed captioning on the YouTube video?

YouTube provides automated captioning for many videos on YouTube using automatic speech recognition technology. These auto-generated captions generally do not meet acceptable standards for accuracy (especially for technical or discipline-specific language) until they have been corrected manually. YouTube has a caption editor interface where you can correct auto-generated captions; however, only the video owner can add or edit captions.

If you have received an accommodation request for captioning, you should review all YouTube videos for your class to ensure that they have accurate captions (not auto-generated captions). For assistance, please contact captioning@colorado.edu.

Will the university pay for my captioning needs?

Captioning for a student accommodation request is always covered by the university. Captioning for public-facing web content related to your department is usually paid for by the department, but you can apply for the captioning grant to fund one-time requests for high-profile content.

Please contact us at captioning@colorado.edu if you have questions about how to pay for captioning.

I have not received any captioning accommodation requests for my course, but I would like to caption my media anyway. How should I proceed?

We value your commitment to making your media accessible to all of the students in your course. Captioning is relatively simple to do on your own using free tools available from YouTube or Amara. If you already use Camtasia, you can use its built-in captioning tools as well. See the Resources for Captioning page for more information. 

The captioning service can also provide in-person trainings on how to caption your own materials. For further information, please contact captioning@colorado.edu​ to discuss how we can assist you with your captioning efforts.

What are best practices, tools, and other resources I can use to caption manually?

There are a number of free or inexpensive tools for you to use to do captioning on your own. Some software programs you can use for DIY captioning are YouTube, Amara, MovieCaptioner, and Camtasia. See the Resources for Captioning page of this website for further information, and please contact captioning@colorado.edu for further assistance or to schedule a consultation on your captioning workflow.

Can I use the same captioning vendors that CU Boulder already uses?

Yes. Please contact captioning@colorado.edu for additional information on how you can utilize these vendor services.

How much do the captioning vendors cost?

Captioning costs may run from $1/min to $5/min, depending on the turnaround time you require. Please contact captioning@colorado.edu for estimates for a specific project.

I have non-English, highly technical language, or explicit content. Can this media be captioned?

Yes. For technical content, if you can provide us with a glossary of difficult terms and names that we can give to the vendor, it will speed up the captioning process.

Non-English content may cost more or take more time to caption, and will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

What is real-time captioning?

Real-time captions, or live captions, are created during an event and displayed almost instantaneously. For assistance with scheduling real-time captioning for a course, students should contact the Disability Services Office. Faculty, staff, and campus visitors should contact the ADA Coordinator's Office