The Described and Captioned Media Program's (DCMP) Captioning Key describes captions as:

"…the process of converting the audio content of a television broadcast, webcast, film, video, CD-ROM, DVD, live event, or other productions into text and displaying the text on a screen or monitor. Captions not only display words as the textual equivalent of spoken dialogue or narration, but they also include speaker identification, sound effects, and music description."

Captions are primarily used to make videos accessible to those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing; however, they have been found to increase engagement and retention of information for students and those for whom english is not their first language. Captions should not be confused with subtitles, which are translations of the spoken content from one language to another. Captions transcribe the spoken audio without translation, and they also identify who is speaking as well as other important elements of the audio in a video.

Captions are:

  • Synchronously timed with the audio of a video, meaning captioned dialog and audio cues appear at roughly the same time as they do in the audio track.
  • Equivalent to the audio of the video, including sound effects and identifying the speaker of dialog when needed. Captions also identify when music is playing.
  • Readily available to those who want or need them and are accessible.

Captioning Checklist

  • Captions appear on-screen long enough to be read, at least one second and usually no more than six seconds.
  • No more than two lines per caption.
  • Captions are synchronized with spoken words.
  • Speakers should be identified when more than one person is on-screen or when the speaker is not visible. Speaker names appear in brackets: [speaker name].
  • Punctuation is used to clarify meaning.
  • Spelling is correct throughout the production.
  • Sound effects are written when they add to understanding.
  • All actual words are captioned, regardless of language or dialect.
  • Use of slang and accent is preserved and identified.

Captioning Quality

To be of sufficient quality, captions must be:

  • Accurate: Captions must be 99% accurate to meet ADA requirements. Errorless captions should be the goal.
  • Consistent: Uniformity of style and presentation are essential for viewer understanding.
  • Clear: A complete textual representation of the audio content; including speaker identification and non-speech information
  • Readable: Captions must be displayed with enough time to be read completely, while synchronized with the audio, and do not obscure the visual content (or are obscured by it).
  • Equal: The meaning and intention of the video content is preserved.

Captioning Resources

Captioning: Knowing How Free Online Course

This self-paced course is intended to increase understanding and awareness of multimedia accessibility and how to create your own captioned files.

Because accessibility work is a responsibility shared among campus citizens, learning skills such as captioning videos provides a critical foundation not only for faculty and staff, yet for everyone.

This course is set up in a “modules” format, delivering sections one at a time. Each module will contain subject content, video, assignments, and/or quizzes.

This course is a free course available via the Canvas LMS system.

Register for Captioning: Knowing How

This course has enabled open enrollment. Participants can self-enroll in the course with this URL:

Alternatively, participants can sign up at and use the following join code: HH4FN3

Learning Management Systems

Tutorials are provided by Canvas and Moodle for adding captions to embedded video in those learning management systems:

Social Media Platforms

Below are links to adding captions in the most popular social media platforms:

For More Information

For questions or additional information about captioning or audio descriptions, contact Accessible Media Services or the ADA IT Coordinator.