Captioning Support and Multimedia Accessibility
Video or multimedia plays an important role in classroom teaching and business communication. Per Section 508, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Success Criterion 1.2.2 , and CSU Policy, the accessibility guidelines for multimedia materials such as, video or audio instructions or tutorials should include captions or transcripts.
Captioning Support for Multimedia Materials
At San Jose State University, we follow CSU Captioning Priotization Guidance to provide captioning support for multimedia materials.
- Complete this captioning request form to request for support or visit Video Captioning Support section below for more information.
A collection of accessible videos created by SJSU faculty and staff is now available for your use at SJSU. You may peruse this list, preview the video, and use any appropriate accessible video in your teaching.
Do-It-Yourself Multimedia Resources
Searching for Videos with Captions
- Search for videos with captions (text version)
- Search for videos with captions and Creative Commons license (video version)
Live Transcription for Slide Presentations
If you use slide presentations in your teaching, meeting or events, you can use Google Slides or Microsoft Presentation Translator add-in to add live transcription to your slide presentation in real time. Live transcription will not only help those who may be deaf or hard of hearing but enhance comprehension for all students/audience. See live transcription instructions [pdf] for more details.
- Getting Started with Presentation Translator for PowerPoint
- Microsoft Translator in the Classroom
- MSBuild 2017 - PowerPoint Translator with AI
Please make sure you have microphone, test the transcription accuracy and appropriateness prior to implementation.
Guidelines and the laws in compliance with accessible multimedia are provided below in Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) format. They are grouped in four sub-categories.
General - Definition and Laws
- What are captions?
Captions are synchronized words displayed at the same time with the audio portion of a video. They are like subtitles but different in that they are designed for those viewers who are deaf and hard of hearing. Captions may also identify speakers and may include music, laughter, or on-screen and background sound effects. Though intended for those who cannot hear the audio content, captions can help those whose primary languages are not English, enable us to view video in a noisy environment, learn new terminologies, and provide content information in more than one sensory modality.
California Education Code Section 67302.5 (a)(1) provides the following definition:
“Captioned” or “captioning” means the display of text corresponding to, and synchronized with, the spoken-word audio portion of instructional material.
- Are captions required?
Yes, Section 508 Amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires all agencies receiving federal funding to make their electronic and information technology accessible to all people including those with disabilities. The Subpart B Technical Standards 1194.24(c)(b) of Section 508 for Video and Multimedia product further specifies:
“All training and informational video and multimedia productions… that contain speech or other audio information necessary for the comprehension of the content shall be open or closed captioned.”
Note: Captions can be open or closed. Open captions are permanently coded and displayed with the video and cannot be turned off whereas closed captions can be turned on and off.
“Captioning ensures equal access, an equal opportunity to participate, and effective communication with people who are deaf or hard of hearing.” ~ National Association of the Deaf
- Do all the videos I show in the classroom and/or post online for my students have
to be captioned?
- What are transcripts?
Transcripts provide a textual version of the video content. They are not synchronized verbatim with the audio or spoken words and do not include time code. Transcripts are generally separate files from the videos. They should be made available when audio files are included as part of the course materials.
- Will the transcripts be good enough?
No. The appropriate accommodation for accessible video is synchronous captions. However, for content that is audio only, transcripts are sufficient.
- Can I buy non-captioned videos and have them captioned?
Every effort should be made to purchase videos containing captions. If you already own a video without captions, it may be more economical to repurchase a captioned format than have captions added.
- How do I purchase captioned media?
If you need to purchase new commercial media or update existing purchased media:
- coordinate with the library selectors and procurement
- identify if the media is available as captioned media
- if available, purchase captioned version
- if not, obtain permission to caption prior to purchase, complete Captioning Request Form to submit your request.
- Where can I find closed captioned videos?
YouTube has many good quality closed captioned (cc) videos. Use the search filter feature to search for cc videos on YouTube. Visit links below for details.
- What is faculty’s responsibility to captioning?
Faculty has the responsibility to apply Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles in teaching and provide equally accessible instructional materials to all students, including those with disabilities, in a timely manner. Reference University policies below for more details.
“The choice of instructional material should be a faculty prerogative; and...San José State University and the CSU have ongoing commitments to provide equal access to information resources to individuals with disabilities” ~ Academic Policy F07-3 [pdf]
“...equitable education requires equal accessibility to all instructional materials, and assuring accessibility is a shared responsibility of faculty and departments as well as the Disability Resource Center, the Center for Faculty Development and the SJSU and CSU administrations” ~ Academic Policy S08-3 [pdf]
"The California State University (CSU) is committed to providing a diverse and supportive academic and work environment that facilitates learning, teaching, working and conducting research for all students, employees and visitors. It is CSU policy to ensure that individuals with disabilities shall have equal access to and the opportunity to participate in CSU programs, activities and services." ~ Executive Order 1111(EO 1111)
- I do not have any deaf or Hard-of-Hearing student(s) in my class, (so) do I have to
have my videos captioned?
Yes. Please keep in mind that students are not required to disclose their disability information unless they choose to share or need your help. Captions may enhance learning of special terminologies, provides learning via multiple audio, video, text based modes for all students, and help those whose primary languages are not English. You are adopting Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to provide various options for students to make a decision of the options that best fit into their learning needs.
- What are the guidelines on using multimedia such as, videos in teaching?
Be aware of the Copyright and Fair Use for your video materials and include the following information in your course syllabus:
Any technology such as connectivity, special hardware devices, software apps that will be used in your class and how they will impact grades. Encourage students to contact you if they have any problems or concerns.
Campus policy in compliance with Americans with Disabilities. Encourage students to contact Accessible Education Center (AEC) if appropriate.
Use the following questions to guide your decision in using videos in your teaching:
a. What learning outcomes do I expect from students by watching the videos?
b. Who are my students? What are their learning styles? Does any one of them require special accommodation?
c. All videos should be captioned. If there is any video that has no captions,
Have I searched all available resources or work with academic library liaison to locate comparable videos with captions?
What are the hardships that prevent me from adding captions?
Have I explained the purpose of videos or how they will enhance learning?
Have I explained how much weight the videos will be used in assigning student’s grade?
Are there any options other than using this video in my teaching?
- Are there any campus-wide resources such as lists of captioned videos available for
Yes, here are some resources:
YouTube's closed captioned videos.
Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP) with content appropriate for students K through 12.
- I have a Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing (DHH) student in my class. What do I need to do?
Contact Accessibility Education Center as early as possible for guidance. You may also review this Fast Facts for Faculty on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing [pdf] for your reference.
- I plan to use videos in my teaching and need help to add captions. Where can I get
A campus-wide Video Captioning Stations is available to support you. Complete and submit a captioning request form to request for help. More details are available in the next section.
- I have purchased and owned a copy of video in DVD. Can I add captions to my DVD?
Yes, if you have obtained permission from the publisher or content copyright holder to add captions.
- What can I do if I do not have the copyright?
Contact the publisher and obtain permission to add closed captioning to the video file. A written permission from the copyright holder is important. It is recommended to include the following information when writing to the publisher:
The purpose of your request to add captions to ensure universal access to all students including those with disabilities
Where the videos will be used (i.e., on campus or online courses in a university setting)
How the videos will be used (i.e. for classroom activities, assignment, etc.)
Who will have access to the videos and dissemination of the videos
Request for copyright holder’s name and contact information (if applicable)
Captioning Support - Full Service and Do-It-Yourself Option
- What does Captioning Support Services offer?
Captioning Support Services is located at Center for Faculty Development Office, IRC 213, on the second floor of Instructional Resources Center building. It is provided by Center for Faculty Development. If you are the copyright owner or have obtained the permission from copyright owner to add closed captions, Video Captioning Stations can work with you to add closed caption for your video(s). If you do not have permission to add captions, we can provide a transcript. However, transcript alone is not considered as equally accessible, the appropriate accommodation for accessible video is synchronous captions.
- Is this service free?
Yes, we will provide closed captioning at no charge.
- How do I request for captioning services?
Complete captioning request form to submit your request.
NOTE: If you have a deaf or Hard-of-Hearing student enrolled in your current course, provide us with your course ID and title, you will receive priority service.
- How can I give you my video files?
Drop your video files at Center for Faculty Development Office, IRC 213, or share your electronic video file with firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact us if you have any questions.
- How long can I expect to have the captioning done for my video(s)?
We follow captioning prioritization guidance from California State University to determine the priority of your request.
You will be contacted after we receive your request. We will verify the details, examine our workload, and provide you with an estimated date of the delivery. It is important to contact us as early as possible as the preparation work for each video may vary.
PLEASE NOTE: We will do our best to accommodate your rush request depending on our available resources.
- Do-It-Yourself (DIY) options: I rely on YouTube videos a lot. YouTube has automatic
captioning but it doesn’t make sense or isn’t very good. Is there any DIY option
in adding captions to my videos?
You have two options if the videos are created by you and published on YouTube:
2. Do-It-Yourself (DIY) options:
Request a one-on-one consultation.
Attend Camtasia I workshop to learn how to use Camtasia to add captions.
Adopt one of the DIY options below to create your own captioning:
Obtain a free copy of MovieCaptioner software for the Mac from CFD Lab in IRC 202 and follow the self-guided MovieCaptioner tutorial [pdf] or MovieCaptioner video tutorial to create your own captioning.
Check out either a Windows or Macintosh laptop from CFD's Captioning Support. Dragon Naturally Speaking dictation software is installed on the laptop. This speech-to-text software can provide you with a text version of your audio and this text version can be added as captions to your videos. Be prepared to spend at least ten minutes to go through the training and establish your voice profile for your first use. The accuracy is about 95%, but you will have to correct the transcript and add punctuation.
- Most of the videos I use are created by others. Can you help me add captions?
Captioning Support can help you add captions once you have the permission from the copyright holder. Otherwise, we can provide you a copy of transcript. However, transcript alone is not considered as equally accessible, the appropriate accommodation for accessible video is synchronous captions.
- Some of my videos need to be captioned in foreign languages. Is this possible?
It depends and may require additional funding provided by you. Contact us at email@example.com for further discussion.
- When do I need to contact publisher or copyright holder?
When a closed-captioned version of the videos you want to use is not available, you need to contact the publisher or copyright holder to request permission to caption the video. A captioned copy is called a derivative work and is not allowed under copyright law. It is recommended to document all your communication with the publisher or copyright holder.
- What are publishers’ responsibilities in captioning?
According to California Education Code Section 67302.5 (b)(1)(A) Publishers are required to "provide a captioned format of instructional materials directly to the student or the instructor by providing an Internet password, delivery of a disk or file, or in any other appropriate manner."
However, keep in mind that publishers may not have the exclusive copyright. They may not be aware of this California education code if they do not operate within the state.
- How long can I expect to hear from the publishers?
"Within 10 calendar days after the receipt of the request..."
~California Education Code Section 67302.5 (b)(2)(A)
But for the reason stated above, publishers may not have the exclusive copyright. It may take time for publishers to contact copyright holder. A lack of response from publishers does not grant the permission to add captions.
- What will I hear from them?
You may hear the following three responses from the publisher:
"a. If the publisher lacks sufficient rights to distribute, or license the institution to create a captioned format... it shall provide both of the following, to the extent that the publisher is able to do so,
i. An electronic format of the instructional materials
ii. The name and contact information of the person who is capable of authorizing creation of a captioned format
b. If the publisher notifies the institution that it will provide an electronic format and a license permitting the institution to create a captioned format, it shall provide the electronic format and the license within seven calendar days
c. If the publisher notifies the institution that it will provide a captioned format of the requested material, the publisher shall provide the captioned format as soon as it is possible to do so, but not later than 14 calendar days"
- What can I do if the publisher does not reply?
"If a publisher fails to respond to a request...within 10 calendar days of receiving the request, the institution shall be deemed to have received a license permitting the institution to create a captioned format of the instructional material."
~ California Education Code Section 67302.5 (b)(3)
- Can I add captions if I do not hear from the publisher or copyright holder?
Yes, if the following conditions are met:
a. A copy of the instructional materials has been purchased (if applicable)
b. You have a student with auditory disability enrolled in your course
c. The instructional material is used by the student or an instructor in connection with a course in which the [deaf or HOH] student is registered.
~ California Education Code Section 67302.5 (c)(A-C)