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January 7, 2013

Creating Closed Captions for Online Course Videos

If you’re teaching online and providing media for your students, you must provide closed captioning or alternative materials for students to be in compliance with accessibility requirements for schools.

Closed captioning provides access to videos by displaying auditory information in printed form on the screen, which gives students who are Deaf or hard of hearing equal access to your class. Closed captions also facilitate greater understanding of media content for people who speak English as a second language, as well as make it easier for the audio content of videos shown in large lecture halls to be understood.

YTCaptionsI’m just now getting around to providing the closed captioning, as I’ve been relying on providing alternative materials for students who have requested them in lieu of watching a video or listening to a podcast. Actually I haven’t had a request ever in my classes in over 10 years of teaching online. But this semester I will be prepared thanks to the services built into YouTube. Yes,  YouTube provides closed captioning on all videos. In fact, if you don’t provide the transcript, YT will attempt to transcribe it for you. Don’t get too excited, as it’s not very good at that job. At least not with my videos it wasn’t. I think I may talk too quickly and mumble too much for it to get all my words correct. That’s okay because at least it gives you something to start with, and some of what it transcribes is correct, saving you a little time.

Screen shot 2013-01-07 at 3.03.56 PMIt’s very easy to do. Just click on the Captions tab at the top of the video you want to edit. You’ll get the option to upload a file with the captions enclosed. This works best if you’ve recorded the transcript before you recorded the video, but I know some of us don’t roll like that. We record on the fly. I personally use an outline. Click the blue “Upload Caption file or Transcript” button on the right. Then choose the file with your transcript or captions. You’ll most likely have a transcript file, as a caption file will include the time stamps next to the words and that is more time consuming to create. Be sure to toggle the circle for Transcript file if that is what you are using. Give it a track name, so you’ll know which file it is if you need to edit it.

This file should be text only (txt). I haven’t tried a .rtf file yet. YT will process the file and this can take some time if it’s a long video. Be patient, and you may need to refresh the page to see if it is finished. When it’s finished, you’re set.

Screen shot 2013-01-07 at 3.04.30 PMIf you need to edit the file for whatever reason, you can easily do so by clicking on the Active track. You’ll have the one you uploaded, as well as a “automatic captions” track. The automatic captions is the one YT transcribed for you; the one that is not as correct as you wished it would be. In either case, you can edit that one or edit the one you uploaded.

The video will show on the left and these captions on the right. You can watch the video and type in the caption boxes as you go.  This is the actual transcripts that YT did for my video. You can see it doesn’t make much sense as is. I have to type in each time stamped box to correct the text. It goes pretty fast once you get the hang of it. In addition, you can download the automatic captions file and edit it. It’s a weird file name (sbv), but it opens in a text editor.

All in all it’s a pretty simple task and worth it for that time when you finally get a hearing impaired student.

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