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Captioning Videos for Your Online Courses

Post #6 in Accessibility series. #A11Y

In post #5 in this series, I showed you some techniques to help you find videos with good captions that you are allowed (legally speaking) to use in your online courses. Of course I realize that you might want to make your own videos to ensure that your course content is explained in the manner that you prefer, and to put your own personal stamp on the course materials.

Let’s take a look at the several different techniques that you might employ to create a good set of captions for a video. I’m not going to cover all the different ways to make a video, but you likely already have your own software and techniques, or you can easily learn them as you begin to experiment with video creation.

On-screen video captions are created from text transcript files with time codes identifying when that phrase is to appear on screen. If you prefer to start from scratch, you can create your own caption files using any word processing platform or almost any text editing tool. If you would rather let someone else do the initial drafting, I recommend you use a video platform such as YouTubeTM or a similar video platform that has tools to make for relatively easy work to include good captioning in your video.

Captioning in YouTube

If you have a GoogleTM account (almost everyone does), you also have a YouTube account. You already have one if you use any of the various Google tools. If you don’t have a Google account, creating one is free and easy. After logging in to your account, go to the YouTube Video Manager. Here you will find many different options related to your video. Alternatively, if you are viewing your own video, you should also see a series of icons just below the video frame, including a CC icon, as shown below.

User-added image

After clicking the icon, you will be at the Manage subtitles and closed captions page. On the right-hand side, you’ll see a blue bar that says Add new subtitles or CC. This is where you could upload your own transcript or subtitles file. Alternatively, you can click the green button besides the language of the currently published captions, which might be the automatically-generated captions, unless you have previously edited the captions.

Click the button next to the Language identifier to edit the current set of captions

Editing the captions is quite easy; and you are able to make changes to the captions text as well as the timing of when each caption starts and stops.

Creating a Transcript

Some students will benefit by having a transcript of the captions. One way to get a transcript is to download the captions file from YouTube and turn it into a transcript. You’ll find the download option in the “Actions” drop-down menu while editing the caption text and timing.

A technique that I often use is to create a transcript file simultaneously as I am recording the video. I do this by using a speech-to-text tool while I am making the recording. There are several free tools that do a fairly good job of converting your speech into text on the fly. Google Docs works fairly well. My preferred method lately has been to use the speech-to-text converter on my mobile phone (it’s an Android, YMMV). It does a great job of parsing through my speech and creating the text file. I can then take that text file and make any final edits prior to publishing the transcript.

There are many techniques for creating captions and transcripts. For the Web Accessibility MOOC for Online Educators (WAMOE), Karen Sorensen created the video shown below to explain how she creates captions in YouTube.

In the next post, we’ll consider some of the important accessibility elements for HTML content pages in your online courses.

Directory to posts in this series:

  1. Improving Accessibility of Online Courses – the why
  2. What do Educators Need to Know about VPATs?
  3. Alt Text for Simple Images in Online Courses
  4. Complex Images – Going Beyond Simple Alt Text
  5. Finding Videos with Good Captions