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Importance of Captioning in Higher Education

About 20 percent of Americans, approximately 48 million, report some degree of hearing loss. Sixty percent of the people with hearing loss, over 28 million, are either in the workforce or in an educational setting ( In this instance, captions, used in conjunction with transcripts, provide a text alternative to audio content which is essential to providing equivalent information.

In a nationwide research study conducted by Oregon State University's E-campus Research Unit, 98.6% of students surveyed reported that they found captions helpful. In addition, 75% of all students who use captions use them as a learning aid. The number one reason students gave for using captions was to help them focus on the video content (3Play Media).

As the study indicates, captions benefit everyone, not just deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. Providing captions and transcripts can:

  • Enhance the educational experience for people who respond to different learning styles and preferences.
  • Allow content to be utilized by those in either extremely loud or extremely quiet environments.
  • Ensure non-native speakers have access to information in videos.
  • Facilitate understanding of vocabulary, or information presented in different dialects, as part of captured lectures or other video resources.

There are several automated captioning tools available. While some are quite good, they likely will not get all of the words correct. Faculty and course designers are encouraged to review all captions for accuracy.

In some cases, up to 80% of viewers using captions are not considered deaf or hard of hearing, including instances when a person cannot listen to audio because of their work or study environment.  (For more information, see "Video Captions Benefit Everyone").


Understanding Video Accessibility

Video accessibility in the context of our university setting is the ability for everyone, including individuals with disabilities, to use and understand online videos in order to:

  • access information
  • interact with others in our academic environment
  • undertake activities conducive to learning and discovery

Videos can be made accessible if content providers:

  • properly insert videos into websites
  • provide a transcript, audio descriptions, and captions
  • utilize accessibility best practices (found below) when creating videos



Video captions should:

  • Appear at the same time as the sound they are captioning
  • Ensure all important audio information has been captured
  • Appear on the screen for enough time for them to be read
  • Ensure the contrast between background and caption text color is sufficient
  • Have no periods without captions
  • Attribute speech to a particular speaker

Visit the DCMP Closed Captioning Standards (3Play Media) website for recommendations and guidelines.


Video Transcripts

Unlike captions, a video transcript is the text of the video’s audio located outside the video itself. A video transcript is sometimes shown alongside a video.

Video transcripts should:

  • Identify the name of the speaker
  • Ensure that all speech content is included
  • Include relevant information about the speech
  • Include relevant non-speech audio
  • Include any textual or graphical information shown in the video
  • Be provided in an accessible format
  • Indicate the end of the transcript if on the same page as the video
  • Provide a mechanism to return to the video if on another page


Audio Descriptions

Audio descriptions of videos should:

  • Adequately describe the visual information
  • Not impinge on other speech or important sounds
  • Be concise but sufficiently explanatory
  • Be sufficiently distinguishable from other speech

It should be noted that audio descriptions are best done when creating the video as an alternative to the original video.


Page content modified from Video accessibility principles (Accessibility Oz)