What is a caption?

For web videos, captions are files that reside alongside video files on a media server. Most captions are plain text files augmented by timing notation, sound effect descriptions, speaker identification, and other captioning features. Captions may use different formats, depending on the use case. .SRT is the most common caption format used for web video at Iowa.

What is the difference between captions and transcripts?

Captions are text elements that are presented synchronously with video content. The text elements are broken up into easily readable segments, which are displayed in the media player along with the accompanying audio. Transcripts contain most of the same information as captions, but are presented in a plain text format, independently of the media content they describe.

Why do I need to caption my video?

The University of Iowa Web Accessibility Policy requires that University web resources be designed and maintained in accordance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, version 2.0, level AA.  For most University web video, this includes providing accurate, synchronized captions. The legal landscape also suggests the need to caption online video; numerous complaints and lawsuits involving uncaptioned video have been settled by institutions of higher education in recent years.

Am I required to caption all of my video content?

The University of Iowa Web Accessibility Policy states that all University web resources must conform to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, version 2.0, Level AA. For online audio and video, this means providing transcripts or captions as described in WCAG 2.0, Checkpoint 1.2.

Learn more about web video captioning requirements at the Described Caption and Media Program.

How do I caption my video?

That depends on you. If you want to caption your video in-house, there are a variety of approaches. In-house solutions require a clean transcript, along with DIY captioning tools such as Camtasia, MovieCaptioner, or MAGPie. Learn more about in-house captioning.

You might also use a commercial captioning service like REV.com, 3Play Media, or CaptionSync.

The OneIT Accessibility Group can provide advice and training on captioning your online media content. Email itaccessibility@uiowa.edu for details.

How much does it cost?

Again, this largely depends on how you approach the process. Captioning services can provide you with quality captions for as little as $1.00 per media minute. In rare instances, you may be able to caption your video using in-house staffing and resources.

Does the University provide captioning services?

Currently, the University does not provide a central captioning service. Web Accessibility Focus can provide advice and training on captioning your online media content. Email itaccessibility@uiowa.edu for details.

What other benefits can captioning provide?

Most people know that video captions enable deaf and hard-of-hearing users to experience dialog and other sounds in an online video.  But captions can enhance your video resources in other ways as well.  Dual-language and low-literacy users can use captions to aid in understanding; users in noisy or distracting environments can use captions when they can't play audio; consumers of specialized or technical content can refer to captions to clarify new, difficult, or specialized terminology; and of course, captions make video content more searchable.  In short, providing captions with your online video adds value for all users.