Why caption and transcribe?

  • Improves retention for all learners given the multimodal learning mediums of sight and sound
  • Provides content appropriate for different learning styles
  • Supports students with varied comprehension levels (ESL, DSS)
  • Compliance with the law - section 508, 504 and some state and local laws that state material must be accessible to all
  • Online and hybrid courses may be audited for accessibility compliance under at least three circumstances: 1) Office of Civil Rights receives a complaint, 2) accreditation visits, and 3) accessibility reviews contracted by the State Chancellor's Office.

When do I caption?

What multimedia material do you need to caption for your online course? Do you always have to caption? What if it's raw footage? What if it's from YouTube? What if it's a sample of student work? What if the instructor owns it?

Below is a quick summary of when video captioning is required and when it is optional.

Captioning/Transcripts Required

  • If the material has video and audio and will be archived for repeated use, then you need to have the material captioned. Please note: If the material has both audio and video, you need to caption. A transcript is not sufficient.
  • If the video will also be shown in the classroom, regardless of whether it is instructor-owned or campus-owned, it must be captioned if any enrolled student requires a captioning accommodation.
  • If you take clips from longer works and string them together and archive the finished video, then it must be captioned.
  • Any video created by the campus and placed on a public website.
  • Transcript: If the material is audio only, no video, and is archived, then a transcript is all you need.

Captioning Optional

Be prepared to respond to student requests for captioning/transcribing within 24 hours and complete the captioning/transcribing process in a timely manner. The captioning/transcribing has to be done in time for the student to have the material whenever the rest of the students are expected to know it.
  • If the material is only for one term AND the class has restricted access (i.e., it's password protected and only students who are enrolled in the class have access), then you only need to caption (or provide a transcript) if a student requests captioning as an accommodation.
  • If the material is on YouTube or other online video site and you are just providing a link to content that is not required, then you only need to caption if a student requests an accommodation. (Please note: YouTube videos are not public domain. Permission may be required to caption.)
  • If the material is student work or other raw footage that will not be archived for repeated use.
  • There is no need to caption longer works if you are just pulling clips from it. Wait and caption the montage that you create.
  • If the video already has foreign language subtitles, do not caption unless requested to do so as an accommodation.

As a simple rule of thumb: If you're keeping it and more than a limited audience might access it, then caption or transcribe it.

How do I caption?

First, attempt to obtain a captioned version or permission to caption from the copyright holder of the video. If a publisher fails to respond within 10 days, California state law provides the right to assume permission and proceed with captioning.

Find out if you are eligible for captioning services by contacting Online Learning for assistance.

Caption Your Own Videos on YouTube

YouTube makes it really easy to caption your videos.
Exporting Your Video and Captions from Camtasia to YouTube
In Camtasia:
  • Choose the automatic upload to Youtube
  • Export the caption file in Camtasia (edit -> captions -> export captions)
In YouTube, upload the captions file.

Captioning Videos You Don't Own

Ask the owner to add captioning
Create Captions that Overlay the Video
Use third party software to create captions that overlay the video.
Supports subtitling videos found on YouTube, Vimeo, and other popular video hosting services. These subtitles will qualify as captioning.
Amara tutorial (pdf) - Step-by-step to add captions that overlay your video
Overstream Demo Video - Watch the video to see how to create captions

Step-by-step tutorials designed to make captioning as simple as possible

Captioning Services

The Distance Education Captioning and Transcription (DECT) grant, administered by College of the Canyons, supports professional captioning and transcription services for multimedia materials used in California community colleges. To apply for these services, contact Daniel Murillo, the Disability Resource Center's Accommodations Coordinator. His email address is Provide him with the following information:

  • Instructor's first and last name
  • Instructor's email address
  • Title of the course that will use the video
  • The quarter/year that the course will be offered
  • Maximum class size for that course
  • Title of the video
  • Number of minutes of the video
  • Links or location of where the video can be accessed

Resources and Help

Captioning Services
For assistance contact Online Learning.
Special thanks to James Glapa Grossklag for providing much of the content on this page.
Last Updated February 22, 2016
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