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Instructional Design & Delivery
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Captions and Transcripts

What are captions and transcripts?

Captions – Captions are words timed to synchronize with the audio of a video. They are meant to capture spoken words, but unlike subtitles, captions also include information that helps promote context comprehension. This additional information may include speaker identification, music information, sounds (such as laughter) and sound effects (such as phone ringing or door slamming) that relate to a scene. Closed captions can be turned on and off whereas open captions are coded into the video and cannot be turned off.

Transcripts – Transcripts are the text version of the audio in a file, but they are not synchronized to match the time code of when the words are spoken. For this reason, transcripts are not recommended for use with videos (since context and comprehension are lost when the text is not timed to match the content). Transcripts are best used for detailing the information in audio files.

Why do we use captions and transcripts?

Section 508 Amendment to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires all agencies receiving federal funding to make their electronic and information technology accessible to all people including those with disabilities. The Subpart B Technical Standards 1194.24(c)(b) of Section 508 for Video and Multimedia product further specifies:

“All training and informational video and multimedia productions… that contain speech or other audio information necessary for the comprehension of the content shall be open or closed captioned.”

Captions and transcripts are required for course content where a student has requested an accommodation, however best practice is for all instructional content to be accessible. Please keep in mind that students are not required to disclose their disability information unless they choose to share or need your help.

Furthermore, closed captions help all students, whether they have a disability accommodation or not. Closed captioning and transcripts benefit all learners:

  • For students where English is their second language
  • Students with an instructor whose second language is English
  • Students who review content in noisy spaces (during commutes, while at the gym, etc.)
  • Students who learn from repetition (hearing and seeing the words at the same time) or seeing new vocabulary or acronyms spelled out

Captions and transcripts help learners focus on the content, which makes them a powerful tool in your arsenal for increasing student success.

How do I get help with Closed Captions for my educational media?

Instructional Design & Delivery can help guide faculty on the best way to include captions or transcripts with their content based on the type of media file, software used, and hosting space.

For  help requesting these materials, please submit a request through ID&D’s Closed Caption & Transcript Request Form.

Closed Caption & Transcript Request Form

It is also always important to remember copyright use when using content and requesting video captions/transcription services. Instructors are responsible for obtaining copyright permission for course materials. If you have not obtained publisher permission for use of their media, you can modify this template to submit a request to the publisher. If you have more questions about copyright, please contact Victoria Martin, Scholarly Communications Librarian, at

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