Why Use Captions?

Captioning of video or audio material is required for making content accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Additionally, captions are useful to a wide variety of people such as speakers of other languages, individuals with learning differences, and viewers in noisy environments. 

Here is a short write-up about the benefits of captioning. Any video or audio content shared to a class or posted on the Amherst College website should be captioned. Amherst College offers various technologies that allow captions for virtual lectures or other media. 

Note: if you need to create captions to fulfill accommodation requirements, contact Amherst College Accessibility Services.


How to Use Captions

Zoom Zoom Logo

  • Zoom allows two ways to enable captioning:
    • There is a free integrated captioning/transcription tool that anyone can use - just turn it on in any Zoom session.
    • For situations where every session needs to be transcribed/captioned (e.g. if a student has an accommodation), it may be preferable to use a paid subscription version that will automatically turn on in all Zoom sessions. To enable this, you first have to put in a request through askit@amherst.eduHere are the steps to turn on OtterAI, once you have made arrangements with AskIT for the paid version.

 

Chrome Chrome Logo

1. On your computer, open Chrome  Chrome Icon .

2. At the top right, click More  Three vertical dots icon Right pointing arrow icon  Settings.

3. At the bottom of the Settings page, click Advanced.

4. Under “Accessibility,” turn on Live Caption.

  • Note: Live Caption is only available in English.

 

Kaltura Kaltura Logo

Kaltura automatically captions all videos in English when they are uploaded. 

  • To edit existing captions in Kaltura via the Closed Captions Editor:
    • In your “My Media” area, click the link for a specific video
    • Click on “Actions” to access a drop-down menu
    • Click on Edit
    • Click the “Captions” tab
      • Note: in addition to providing access to the Closed Captions Editor, this tab also includes options for hiding, deleting, or downloading captions (as a .srt file)
    • Click the “Edit captions” button
    • This will bring you to the Closed Captions Editor page
    • Make edits directly in the timestamped sections shown on the left of the page
    • Play/pause video on right side of the page to view where captions will be shown (displayed captions will highlight in blue)
    • Delete or add caption sections as needed
    • Edit timestamps as needed
    • Use Search or Search and replace options at top of the page
    • To add a Speaker, select the checkbox next to caption sections, then enter the Speaker name in the “Add Speaker” box at the top of the page, then click on the “Add” button
    • Be sure to click on the “Save” button at the top right of the page when edits are complete

 

YouTube YouTube Logo

1. Sign in to YouTube Studio (you can sign in using your Amherst College credentials, but must accept the terms of service before creating your channel).

2. From the left menu, select Subtitles.

3. Click the video that you'd like to edit.

4. Click ADD LANGUAGE and select your language.

5. Under subtitles, click ADD.

  • Note: You can also add subtitles and captions during the upload process.

 

Audio Descriptions

  • Audio description refers to providing narration of key visual elements of a video or multimedia. This narration allows blind or low vision users to access content that is otherwise inaccessible by simply listening to the audio. Description of actions, scene changes, gestures, and other visual information are the main elements of this process. This also includes describing titles, speaker names, and other information that may be present on the screen in a visual mode. Audio description requires a well-written script and should be left to trained professionals. For assistance in setting up audio descriptions for your own videos, contact AskIT@amherst.edu.

Captioning Standards

Adding captions to a video begins with creating a written transcript of what is being said in the video, and the text should incorporate these important standards:

  • The meaning and intention of the material should be completely preserved (this ensures equal access).
  • Spelling and capitalization should be accurate, and the transcript should be as close to verbatim as possible.
  • Punctuation should be used to enhance clarity. 
    • Example: If someone is shouting, write "Hi!"
  • If there are multiple speakers present, identify who is speaking. 
    • Example: INTERVIEWER: Do you like cheese? SUBJECT: Yes!
  • Capture relevant non-speech sounds with square brackets. 
    • Example: [CAT MEOWING] or [ROCK MUSIC].

Outsourcing Captions

If you cannot use the above described captioning techniques for your course and have a student with an approved captioning accommodation, we would be happy to outsource your request. Please submit a ticket to AskIT. We will make arrangements with a company like 3Play Media or  Rev.com. The cost is anywhere from $1 - $4 a minute depending on the company and turnaround time. Temi is a lower-cost service that offers good-quality, automatically-generated transcripts for only 25¢/minute, and you can make additional edits to the transcript before downloading the file. If you want to use these resources for personal or non-accommodation use, feel free to work with these vendors directly.


Creating Transcripts

Several of these captioning programs can also create full transcripts. For example, turning on the live transcription option during a Zoom session will not only create live captions, but it will provide you with a full transcript which you can save to your computer before closing the session. Similarly, Kaltura provides you with a downloadable full transcript that is created alongside the captions. You can then post the transcript alongside the video. For an excellent example from Amherst College showing how to post a video with both captions and a transcript, check out these videos from Black Alumni Week 2021.


Additional Resources 

The following programs provide automatic captioning and/or translation:

  • PowerPoint for Web - subtitles for presentations in the same or different languages in real-time (note: this tool works only in the web-based version of the PowerPoint)
  • Microsoft Translator - real-time language translation for spoken conversations, text-based documents such as restaurant menus, street signs, online content, and more
  • AVA - real-time captioning for live situations, such as one-on-one and group conversations