Captioning Frequently Asked Questions

General - Definition and Laws

  1. What are captions?

  2. Are captions required?

  3. Do all the videos I show in the classroom and/or post online for my students have to be captioned?

  4. What are transcripts? 

  5. Will transcripts be good enough?

  6. Can I can buy non-captioned videos and have them captioned? 

  7. How can I purchase captioned media?

Faculty’s Responsibilities

  1. What is faculty’s responsibility to captioning?

  2. I do not have any deaf or Hard-of-Hearing (HOH) student(s) in my class.  Do I have to have my videos captioned?

  3. What are the guidelines on using multimedia such as, videos in teaching?

  4. Are there any campus-wide resources such as lists of captioned videos which I can use in my teaching?

  5. I have a Hard-of-Hearing (HOH) student in my class.  What should I do?

  6. I plan to use videos in my teaching and need help to add captions.  Can I get help?

  7. I have purchased and owned a DVD copy of the video.  Can I add captions to my DVD?

  8. What can I do if I do not have the copyright?

Video Captioning Lab (Full Service and Do-It-Yourself Options)

  1. What does Video Captioning Lab offer?

  2. Is this service free?

  3. How do I request for captioning services?  

  4. How can I give you my video files?

  5. How long can I expect to have the captioning done for my videos?

  6. I rely on YouTube videos a lot.  YouTube has automatic captioning but it doesn’t make sense or isn’t very good.  What can I do?

  7. Most of the videos I use are created by others.  Can you help add captions?

  8. Some of my videos need to be captioned in foreign languages.  Is this possible?

Publisher’s Responsibilities

  1. When do I need to contact publisher or copyright holder?

  2. What are publishers' responsibilities with respect to captioning?

  3. How long can I expect to hear from the publisher?

  4. What will I hear from them?

  5. What can I do if the publisher does not reply?

  6. Can I add captions if I do not hear from the publisher or copyright holder?

 

 


General - Definition and Laws

  1. 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 the language spoken in the video, help 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.

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  2. Are captions required?

    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

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  3. Do all the videos I show in the classroom and/or post online for my students have to be captioned?

    Yes.

  4. What are transcripts?

    Transcripts provide a textual version of the video content. Transcripts are not synchronized verbatim with the audio or spoken words and do not have to include the time code. Transcripts are generally separate files from the video file.

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  5. 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.

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  6. 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.

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  7. 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.

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Faculty’s Responsibilities


  1. 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

    “...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

    If faculty use any videos/multimedia for teaching, faculty should provide accessible (Section 508 compliant) instructional materials in a timely manner and as seamless as possible. The implementation of Universal Design principles should be incorporated in teaching to “reduce the need for, and costs associated with, individual accommodations for inaccessible technology products.”  ~ Coded Memorandum AA-2013-03

    "It is the policy of the CSU to make information technology resources and services accessible to all CSU students, faculty, staff and the general public regardless of disability."   ~ Executive Order 926 (EO 926)

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  2. 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. Captions may also help those whose primary languages are not the language spoken in the video or help learn new terminologies.

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  3. 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.

    With respect to using videos in your teaching, use the following questions to guide your decision:

    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?

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  4. Are there any campus-wide resources such as lists of captioned videos available for my teaching?

    Yes, here are two video databases in the Articles and Databases List A -Z section at SJSU Library for your consideration:

    You may also use the search filter feature to search for closed captioned videos on YouTube. Visit links below for details.

    In addition, Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP) is available with content appropriate for students K through 12.

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  5. I have a Hard-of-Hearing (HOH) student in my class.  What do I need to do?

    If you have a HOH student in your class, please contact Accessibility Education Center as early as possible for guidance.

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  6. I plan to use videos in my teaching and need help to add captions. Where can I get help?

    A campus-wide Video Captioning Lab is available.  Complete and submit a captioning request form to request for help. More details are available in the next section.

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  7. 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.

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  8. What can I do if I do not have the copyright?

    Use or modify this publisher's template to 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)

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Video Captioning Lab - Full Service and Do-It-Youself Option


  1. What does Video Captioning Lab offer?

    Video Captioning Lab is located on the first floor of Instructional Resources Center (IRC) building. It is a collaborative effort from Academic Technology and Center for Faculty Development.  If you are the copyright owner or have obtained the permission from copyright owner to add closed caption, Video Captioning Lab can work with you to add closed caption for your video(s).

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  2. Is this service free?

    Yes, we will provide closed captioning at no charge.

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  3. 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.

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  4. How can I give you my video files?

    Drop your DVD or VHS tape to Media Services at the first floor of IRC or email your electronic video file to Video Captioning Lab at accessible-teaching@sjsu.edu.

    Note: Please do not send us links to your video files.  We require physical media or electronic media files to synchronize captions with the video.

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  5. How long can I expect to have the captioning done for my video(s)?

    You will be contacted after we receive your request. We will verify the details 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 request but RUSH requests are generally not available.

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  6. I rely on YouTube videos a lot.  YouTube has automatic captioning but it doesn’t make sense or isn’t very good.  What can I do?

    You have two options if the videos are created by you and published on YouTube:

    1. Complete captioning request form and email or forward your video files to request for help.

    2. Do-It-Yourself (DIY) options to modify or add captions to your own videos:

  7. Most of the videos I use are created by others. Can you help me add captions?

    Many YouTube videos created by others have good quality of closed captions (cc). You can use the search filter feature to search for cc videos on YouTube. Visit links below for more details.

    1. Follow instructions on how to search for videos with captions.

    2. View video on how to search for captioned videos on YouTube.

      For videos created by others that you do not have copyright, use or modify publisher's template to contact the publisher or copyright holder to obtain permission to add captions. See question 8 in the Faculty’s Responsibility section for more details.

      Video Captioning Lab can help you add captions once you have the permission from the copyright holder.

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  8. 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 accessible-teaching@sjsu.edu for further discussion.

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Publisher’s Responsibility


  1. 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. It is recommended to document all your communication with the publisher or copyright holder.

  2. 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 due to their out-of-town or out-of-country status.

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  3. 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.

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  4. 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"

    ~ California Education Code Section 67302.5 (b)(2)(C - E)

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  5. 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)

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  6. 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 enroll 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)

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