Captioning FAQ
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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.  


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.


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


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.


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. 

Instructions on how to search for videos with captions. 
Video on how to search for captioned videos on YouTube. 


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?

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)


What are the publishers' responsibilities?

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


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)