Be a Digital Ally: Captioning

Jay McKay:  

Hello, and welcome to Knowbility's Be a Digital Ally. So thank you all of our digital allies for returning and for those of you that will be catching this recording, we hope you're doing well. Today, we are covering video captioning. We do have slides for you today, and I'm gonna ask Molly or Erica to put those in the chat but you can find them at

So it's gonna be B-I-T, dot, L-Y, slash, captions with a capital C, and then capital B, capital A, capital D, capital A. All right, so let's go ahead and get started. First, we want to thank you and welcome you, and thank you for letting us be a part of your journey. Of course, we always strive to create inclusive and accessible spaces. We do that by trying to ensure everything that we do is with as few barriers as possible.

We try to be kind, and polite, and respectful, and we ask you to do the same. And then lastly, of course, we want to ensure accessibility. All right, so we're just gonna do a quick round of introductions. Of course I am Jay McKay. I'm the Director of Community Programs. Thank you all for being here. And I will let our next person in the order of our slides introduce themselves.

Molly moore:

Okay, hi, I'm Molly. Molly Moore. I'm a Community Engagement Specialist here at Knowbility, and I'll go ahead and pass it to Erica.

Erica Braverman:

Hi, I'm Erica Braverman, and I'm also a Community Engagement Specialist at Knowbility, and I'm going to hand it over to Francesca.

Francesca Castleton:

Hi, everyone. My name's Francesca Castleton. I'm an Accessibility Analyst, so I help with auditing websites to make sure that they are more accessible.


So she's really our expert on site today, so.


I try.


We just lob all the questions that we get stuck on to her, so. It works out nice. All right. So just a little bit about Knowbility for those that may not be familiar. We were founded in 1999. We are a 501 [c][3] nonprofit that is based locally in Austin, Texas, but really we truly operate globally.

And our mission is to create inclusive digital world for people with disabilities, and we do that through several different programs. And so here, you'll see on our screen, we have our And really what that helps us do is put on a variety of community programs, one of which, of course, is Be a Digital Ally.

Our other programs include AIR, which is the Accessibility Internet Rally. That is our eight week website competition where we pair up web development teams with nonprofits and artists to create or redesign websites to, you know, meet those best standards or best practices of accessibility.

Of course, we have our AccessU, that is our annual tech or web development conference coming up very, very shortly in just like, three weeks. So we are all very excited about that coming up. We have our AccessWorks program, which is our usability testing program. Our K12 Digital Accessibility. And that will include things like our Toolkit Tuesday, which is our monthly webinars looking at different aspects of the educational environment to make sure barriers are removed and accessibility is provided.

And with that also is our K12 Access Summit, which Karen had asked about earlier today. That is replacing our AccessEDU. So if anybody attended that last year, we just put up a save the date for the K12 Access Summit.

And so before we get started, we just want to, again, invite you to Be a Digital Ally if this is your first time attending this series. It is monthly. The goal of this series is to really just cover basic skills and principles behind accessible digital design to help make that content accessible to people with disabilities. Our audience ranges from, you know, content creators of any skill and level, but maybe you're new to accessibility, or maybe you're just starting out. You want some more information. So this is really just to get you started get those basic skills underneath you.

So today, we do have some learning objectives. We just, again, wanna review quickly accessibility and assistive technology. And then we're gonna dive into our topic today, which is Captioning 101. Looking at transcripts. Of course, we like to do some practice with you all, and then take questions at the end.

So what does accessibility mean? And for those that have attended previous, you're gonna be able to start reciting this with me. But for those that are new, we always want to make sure everybody's on that same playing field. So, this definition of accessibility, we took from a couple different sources. One is the from their Accessibility Intro. And then from, they're designing for accessibility with POUR.

So when we think about accessibility. For something to be accessible, we need to make sure that people can perceive it, okay? Can they hear and see the content? Understand it? Do they know where to go? What to expect, or what to do? Navigate. Can they independently navigate using their preferred tools?

Interact. Can they independently complete tasks and explore all the areas? And then contribute. Can they fully participate in that content on that space in an authentic manner? So that's really what we're talking about when we're talking about accessibility. Why is it important to design for it, right?

So, you know it's important, but sometimes we don't really understand the why of it all. So according to the World Health Organization, 15% of the world's population lives with some form of disability. However, we also know that several people may not actually consider themselves to be disabled as defined by WHO.

And then also there are several people out in the world that do benefit from accessibility, even if they don't have a disability. So a couple examples. So one, in terms of who may be disabled or who would define them as disabled, but maybe they don't consider themselves that, sometimes with people who have hearing loss, they may not feel it's as bad as what, you know, World Health Organization would say.

And then also ways that people benefit, but maybe not have a disability. Think about the benefits of curb cuts, right? Like, that's just nice for people regardless if they have a disability, especially if they're, you know, strollers, maybe you have a small dog like I do. And, you know, some of those curbs are a little difficult.

You know, things like captions, which is of course what we're gonna be talking about today. So who all benefits from captions? And we'll dive into this a little deeper as we dive in, but I want you to think about not just those with disabilities, but also those added benefits of captions and transcripts.

Maybe from those who don't have disabilities. There are several articles and lots and lots of research out there. We just provided you with a few sources that you can access in these slides. But a lot of that research is telling us the use of captions in videos, especially for young children, really is helping improving their reading skills.

So, you know, anytime they're watching a video, either be for school or just for fun, having those captions really is helping increase those language skills, you know, decoding, recognizing different words and letters. Helps with people who may be learning a second language. Again, just reinforcing that language can help improve comprehension of material.

I know I frequently interact with people who they use captions, they don't necessarily have a hearing loss or hearing disability, but they will say, you know, I just feel like I understand something better if I have that visual to go with the auditory. And then lastly, some interesting things that are popping up in the research, is they're finding that if people see that there's an option to use captions, they'll turn off the audio because they just don't want to have that audio input if they can just read out the captions.

Or if you think about, you know, anybody that needs to have, you know, you've got other people in the room, you need to make sure that the volumes turned down so you don't have to have it on quite as loud. So really looking at all those different ways that captions benefit without just thinking about people who might have hearing loss or a hearing impairment.

All right, so what is assistive technology? Assistive technology is any item, piece of equipment, software program, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of a person with a disability. And that comes from the Assistive Technology Industry Association.

So it's a really long definition, but really what it's saying is it can be anything, right? You can purchase it, it could be in your house and you're using it a different way, or maybe the way it's intended. But it's really there, if you didn't have it, you wouldn't be able to do something, right? Or your functional ability would be decreased without it.

So that's one way to think about it. If you didn't have it, would you be able to do the task? The World Health Organization, kind of elaborates a little bit talking about how it enables and promotes inclusion and participation, especially with persons with disability, aging populations, and people with non-communicable diseases.

So again, they're really talking about the products being able to maintain or improve that individual's functioning independence and therefore their wellbeing. All right, let's move on to our next slide. Just some brief examples of assistive technology. And, of course, we're gonna dive, again, deeper into those later, as we talk about captions and transcripts.

Some brief examples, of course, screen readers. Refreshable braille displays. Alternative navigation methods, right? So when we talk about people needing keyboard only, the idea's that they can't necessarily use a mouse, but they use their keyboard. And that's how they get to the different spots on the page.

Or they might have to use a switch. So instead of being able to use their hands in a typical manner on a keyboard, maybe they're having a external button that may be placed onto a different, nearby a different part of their body. So maybe like a head switch or even it might be by their hand, but it's not really like a keyboard in the traditional sense.

Of course, closed captions is a form of assistive technology as well as transcripts. And then some that we don't think about sometimes that a lot of us use, is magnification or that dark mode and high contrast. And then, of course, we always encourage you to check out those WebAIM examples, which, you know, dive a little deeper, give you some pictures and some videos to go along with it.

All right, so we are just about to start on our journey of captions and transcripts. But before that, we always wanna remind you that accessibility is a journey, right? You're gonna learn one thing and then you're gonna learn something else after that. So we know that sometimes when people are first starting, they're always afraid they're gonna do something wrong.

And so they feel like, well, it's just better if I don't do anything at all. And really, we wanna make sure that, you know, this quote from Maya Angelou's always great. And it's always one of those things that keeps me moving forward, which is you're gonna do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, you do better.

So, with that, please, please, as we're going through the presentation, if you have questions, put 'em in the chat. If we don't get it to 'em right away, we'll make sure we get to them at the end. We do encourage you that when we get to the practice that you do take that opportunity, even if you don't put it in the chat, just to take that moment to self reflect when we get to those practice sections. And so with that, I am going to pass it on over to Molly.


Okay, great. Thanks, Jay. So we are going to discuss today how to make your video content accessible with a specific focus today on audio content. So we can go ahead and get started. So let's talk broadly for a second about how to create accessible videos, what goes into that.

Video content has two elements, visual and audio. In order to perceive audio, you need hearing. And in order to perceive video, you need vision. And in order to perceive both, audio and video, you're going to need hearing and vision. So in order to make videos perceptible to all audiences, you're going to need to provide alternatives to both audio and visual elements.

Like I mentioned, we're going to be focusing on audio alternatives today, but we will be discussing alternatives to visual elements in an upcoming Be A Digital Ally. This will largely be focused on providing an audio description track. So stay tuned for that. But first, just a quick PSA. We'll probably repeat this at the next one as well. But do not use auto-play videos. PSA, do not use them. They are always going to be inaccessible and make your website inaccessible.

Primary reason is that the audio will automatically start playing and obscure the speech of a screen reader, rendering the page inaccessible. They can also distract visitors from finding the content they need, which is a primary hallmark of inaccessibility. They can also take up bandwidth that your visitors might not have on their connection.

We'll also discuss this later, but they could also pose a seizure risk if it includes flashing lights or images. So just avoid auto-play videos. You can have a video on your website just as long as it gives the person an option to press play before it plays automatically. Okay, PSA over. We can move on to accessible audio content.

So this video is going to give you an idea of why adding an alternative is important when making a video. And I'm gonna give a quick description first for what we're about to watch. First scene, we're going to see a man sitting at his desk watching a video with no sound or captions on.

Next, a group of people chat loudly at a table while another person tries to listen to a video. Finally, a librarian holds up a finger to shush someone who is watching a video on full volume in the library. Okay, so let's go ahead and watch the video. And see, this is a good example of why captions are so important.


Web accessibility perspectives, video captions. Video isn't just about pictures. It's also about sound. Without the audio, you'd have to guess what this film is about. Frustrating, isn't it, not knowing what's going on? That's the situation for everyone who can't hear.

Web accessibility perspectives, video captions. Video isn't just about pictures. It's also about sound. Without the audio, you'd have to guess what this film is about. Frustrating, isn't it, not knowing what's going on? That's the situation for everyone who can't hear.

Captions make videos accessible, which is also handy for people who want to watch video in loud environments or where you need to be very, very quiet. Web accessibility. Essential for some. Useful for all. Visit for more information on video captions.


Okay, great. So yeah, in that clip, the speaker largely focused on captions, which is what we're going to be talking about today. So let's jump right in. First, a overview of what audio content is. It can be an alternative to webpage text. So if a webpage gives you the capability to read all the text on the page, such as an audio version of a news article.

It can be a standalone content. such as a podcast or instructions without video. And it can be synchronized content, of course, video with audio. So those are the times you're going to want to be thinking about, should I be providing an alternative? Audio content is perceptible without vision, so you can access it without vision.

But it's not perceptible without hearing. So this is why we're going to need to provide an alternative for when hearing isn't accessible or an option, okay? And in order for audio content to be accessible, it needs a text-based alternative, including all spoken text, as well as sound effects. And we're going to go into that designation later, but that's important.

It's all sounds that are included in the video or audio. You want to make sure that there's a text alternative for everything so that the person using it doesn't miss any information. These can be through captioning, a transcript, subtitles, an SRT file, or a VVT file. Okay, and let's just jump into what each of those mean, because you'll notice these kind of get, these terms get used interchangeably, and often they do mean very similar things, maybe at just different points of the audio's life.

So, but let's just get into it. So what is captioning? So this is the big consideration when it comes to making your audio accessible. This is what WCAG has as their accessibility check. So you're going to need to provide captioning to make your content accessible. Captioning can be open or closed.

It can be auto-generated or live-captioned. And it is the text version of all speech and non speech audio content. So non speech audio content refers to things like laughter, door closing, sound effects, background music, et cetera. Great, so, yes, opened versus closed captioning. You've probably heard of closed captioning, but open captioning is also in existence.

So for open captioning, kind of counterintuitively, the captions are always in view. They cannot be turned on and off by the user. This is because they've been burned into the video. So they are actually a part of the video. They cannot be separated from the video. This is really handy for offline video.

And often social media platforms will automatically just burn in the captions to anything posted if you select that option. Okay. So we can move on to closed captions. These can be turned off and on by the viewer. So, yeah, we see that little CC box, which you've likely seen in the bottom right corner of your streaming service or YouTube.

And so you know you can click that box and up comes the option to turn them off or on. Sometimes you get the option to pick your language. So it can come in different languages, depending on what files are present. And they are published as a sidecar file, which means they're separate from the video.

Basically, they're uploaded separately. This does mean that they can't be accessed without, or they often can't be accessed without internet. Yep, so that's the difference between those. We'll talk about auto-generated and live-generated captions in a little bit, so hold on to that. But let's jump into what is a transcript.

So a transcript is a written or printed version of material originally presented in another medium. So for captions, what was once a caption could later become a full transcript of, for instance, this recording. Later, and actually we provided an example here from our last BaDA, Be A Digital Ally, which we can see.

So you'll see the video of the session above and then below is the full transcript of the video. So someone can just read through that or listen through, you know, read through that instead of watching the video. It also means that the transcript is not tied to any particular timing, unlike captions.

Captions are required for WCAG compliance. Transcripts are a very helpful bonus. Yep, so that is what a transcript is. And we can move on to an example, another example. So we just saw the one from our last session of Be a Digital Ally. This is an example from the New York Times podcast, The Daily, which I do listen to, I like that podcast.

But on that slide, we have the title. And then the next slide, we have the full transcript of that podcast episode. So you'll see things like the name of the person speaking. And every time the speaker changes, that's indicated as well. And it's just all laid out. Everything that they said in the podcast is going to be written down in this transcript.

Okay. So now we can move on to subtitles. So subtitles and captions can get pretty easily confused. But the big thing here is that subtitles are not meant to address accessibility issues. Closed captioning can cover subtitles depending on the placement, but subtitles can't substitute for captioning. They are typically used for written translations of spoken dialogue.

So if you're watching something in French, but you speak Spanish, you can put on these Spanish subtitles and know what the person is saying, but it does assume that the user can hear all non-spoken audio information. So it won't include things like background sounds or silences. And so those leaving those out is what distinguishes it really from captions.

All right. And we can move on to, what is an SRT file? So the SRT file stands for Subtitle Resource Track. It's named for the software SubRip, which ripped the captions and timings from a video as a text file. So basically the software would take your video and translate everything said into a text file, along with timings.

It includes timestamp codes to help ensure your text matches your audio. It can be created from scratch or downloaded and edited. So we'll talk a little bit about YouTube, which does auto-generate captions for you, but you're gonna need to go in and do some pretty heavy editing after that. It's typically created and edited through Wordpad or Notepad.

And most captions on the internet are distributed in the SRT format so it's compatible with most media players. And that's kind of the big thing here. It's what allows your video or your streaming service to recognize that there are captions and pair it with your video. The SRT file has a very particular format.

So we'll go ahead and look at a photo of an SRT file. It's uniform. That's how the captions are able to sync up. So here we have a full example of an SRT file and these handy identifiers from 3PlayMedia, just thought that this is a great example. So up top, it has a sequence number with the number one, and you'll see it goes 1, 2, 3 between each space.

The second thing it points out is a two-hash arrow to separate beginning and ending time codes. So the two-hash arrow, for instance, is important for uniformity when uploading your file. Then it's pointing to a blank space to separate the caption sequence. Then we have beginning and ending time codes in proper format.

So the proper format here is hour, minute, seconds, comma, three more decimals after that. So 0, 0, colon, 0, 0, colon, 04, comma, 448. And then, so that's the full starting point. And then it points to the full ending point for the caption that's going to read. They're timed well and spelled wonderfully. And that's what I just read.

Finally, we have the caption text, which is synced to whatever that time, that little time slot is. So that is an example there. And we can move on to finally what a VTT file is, which is very similar to an SRT file. It's basically an SRT file with a few formatting and coding differences. Most streaming services take both or have that capability, but it's just good to know that this is something that is out there.

It's now what the Worldwide Web Consortium otherwise known as W3C has standardized for displaying timed text in connection with the HTML5 element, which is a complicated way of saying that's how your video will sync up with your captions. So, great. We went through our different terms that you're likely to hear in this captioning world. So now I'm going to pass you to Cesca who's gonna take you a little deeper on captioning.


Thanks, Molly. And thank you for explaining the differences between open and closed captioning. I actually did not know the difference in the very beginning until we started these slides. So it's good to make that clear. So now we're gonna dig a little bit deeper into captioning, why it's important.

We're gonna talk about how it's like, whether it is human generated, done by an AI, or auto-generated in a couple of different services that you can use. Okay, so why is captioning important? It provides those who are either deaf or have partial hearing to be able to access the auditory content. It also helps those who have sensory processing disorders or those with learning disabilities so that they can better understand it as well.

And it's also useful to people who are watching videos in a loud environment. Yesterday, I was actually traveling on an airplane. I was going from California to Kansas. And even though I had my headphones in, my ears were popping. So being able to have captions on the movie made it available to me. It also provides useful print information, so you can get names or correct spelling. And as a plus, it also helps with improving SEO. So to sum it up, captioning helps people perceive audio content that they cannot hear.

So now I'm going to talk about a little bit about live captions. So with live captions, this is provided by a professional in real-time. So we're gonna go over Communication Access Realtime Translation, also known as CART. They can help provide you with a transcript, that once you upload your video, that you could load this transcript to the video at a later time.

In some cases, that transcript may need some minor editing, but for the most part, they're very accurate. So these are a couple of different CART services. Again, this stands for Communication Access Realtime Translation. It's done by a live human, not an AI. So, and they can provide this transcript upon request.

And what's great about this is before that they do the transcript, you can provide names of the speakers, whether there's any glossary or technical terms that are used in it. Also any materials that are used in the presentation, that would be helpful. For example, a PowerPoint. These are a couple of different third-party CART services that we have listed here.

There's 3PlayMedia. Texas Closed Captions. And I think I'm pronouncing this right, Hardeman Realtime. But yeah, these provide live human captioners. So why is accuracy important? Again, this is legally required. Oh, sorry. I skipped one. Okay, auto-generated captions. In order to be with WCAG compliant, captions have to be 99% accurate.

So ever since COVID-19, there's been a significant increase in online meetings. So auto-generated captions have greatly improved over time. They're not generally recommended for live events as auto-captions can only collect language and do not include like, background sounds, descriptions of sounds, or silences.

So some sometimes you might be watching a video and maybe if it's important in the context to hear that there are birds chirping in the background, the captions might say birds in song, something like that. So to continue why accuracy is so important. Again, this is a WCAG requirement that captioning has 99% accuracy.

And the reason why this is important is because it increases reading comprehension. It will look good for your brand. And at the end of the day, everybody just wants to be able to read accurate captions so that they can understand the video that they're watching. And so to piggyback more on this, ADA requires it for employee facing videos, as well as public-facing video from businesses and universities.

Oops, the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, what a mouthful, also known as CVAA, requires closed captioning on all video that has been captioned on TV. Also the Federal Communications Commission, also known as FCC, sets caption quality requirements.

So I was actually checking out this link earlier, if you wanted to read more about CVAA, and I thought it was important to know that it did mention that all video programming that was shown on TV with captions must be captured when it is reshown on the internet. So this means that programs shown only on the internet are not required to be captioned, even if the video was shown on the internet first.

Once it is shown on TV, it must be captioned for the internet. So we can move on to the next slide. So here are a couple of platforms that offer auto-generated captioning. We have Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Zoom, YouTube, and just recently introduced this past March is also Instagram. So that's awesome. Yay.

Again, auto-generated captioning isn't the most accurate, but they have improved a lot more, lately since a lot of people have been going online for meetings since COVID. So one important tip is to always speak slowly and clearly that way the AI can capture the words that you are explaining in the video.


And before we go onto the next slide, I just wanna verify with everybody today. Yes, we are currently using the auto-generated captions for today through Zoom. When we have our registration, we do offer the option if people do request to have, you know, those live captions or those CART services, we will provide those.

But typically we will just make sure that the auto-generated is enabled. But then if somebody does require to have that CART service, we're happy to provide that. We just ask that they request that in advance so that way we can make sure we have those services available.


Awesome. Okay, so here we have transcription services. So there's CADET, Rev, Subly, and 3PlayMedia, which we had mentioned before also offers audio description. A good tip is to always utilize the dictionary. Whenever possible, add names and terms specific to your organization.

A lot of times the professional captioner will ask for these names, terms, or any topics that they may need ahead of time. So human versus artificial intelligence. So just to recap, anything that is human captioned. Yes, it, sorry, my dog's barking. So human captioned, it may take longer and it might cost more.

But we did mention before that WCAG requires 99% accuracy. So with human captioned, you'll be able to receive that 99% accuracy. And then with AI captioned, it is cheaper and it is faster, but do expect that there may be some errors 'cause the AI can't capture all of the words that the speaker may be using. And so with that, I'm going to pass it over to Jay. Go for it.


Sure. So one of the things that we did wanna mention, because we know a lot of you may be content creators out there and using YouTube as a way to share your information. You know, maybe you're putting something up and then directing people to your YouTube channel or your YouTube videos.

And we wanted to talk a little bit, we mentioned earlier captions, transcript, subtitled can get interchangeably said, and YouTube is a really good example of that. But we wanted to provide you with some resources and let you know some tips in terms of using YouTube videos and captions.

So when you do get a chance to go into the slides, that link that we have added there takes you directly to the Google support page about adding subtitles and captions to your YouTube videos. And it's actually really fairly easy. You have a couple options. One, is that you could upload a file.

So we talked about those SRT files or the VTT files. You can just upload those directly. So when you're in your YouTube channel and you're in that editor, there is a section and this is what trips people up, is you're gonna look for captions, and it's actually gonna be subtitles. I know, it's weird.

So when you're in that editor, look for where it says subtitles, you're gonna go there. And that's where you're gonna see your options. So you can upload the file. You could type it in manually. So they actually have a interface where as you're playing the video, you could type along as you're hearing everybody speak and type those captions as you're playing the video.

What I like to do is if we have a transcript that we've received from, you know, like today's session, what I'll do is take that transcript, and I will just copy and paste it into that type in manually. And then I'll let it do its its magic in terms of adjusting the timings. And then the third option, which is what I also recommend to people if they're saying, oh, well, I have this YouTube video. It's just gonna auto-generate the captions.

It will. However, I have some really funny stories that are not appropriate for today. And what happens when you don't edit your auto captions? So I do always tell people, go ahead, let the auto captions generate, but then make sure you go back in there because you can edit them. You can add the names.

If you need to add, you know, we talked about those non-speech sounds, right? So like the, you know, like the bird song and the music playing, you can add those in, even though YouTube auto-generated them. You can edit those to have whatever you need, make sure it lines up really nice with your timings.

Some other things to consider when you're using YouTube and captions, is that it can really help support multiple languages. So before coming to Knowbility, I actually worked for a school district, and this was some tricks that we have learned, especially during COVID. Because we were just having to create content fast, to help parents access, you know, how to get to the website.

How to, you know, boot up the Chromebook when it broke down. And where I lived, we had several parents that English was not their first language. We had several parents that spoke Spanish primarily. So there's a couple options that you can do. One, is when you create your captions and you have nice clean captions added to your YouTube video.

When the viewer goes to look for those captions, they can actually do an auto-translate. So when they click on that caption button, there's an option to do auto-translate. And what's nice about that is if you have nice, clean captions your auto-translate, well it might not be a hundred percent accurate, it's gonna be way more accurate than if you auto-generated your captions and just left those.

The other option that you have, and if you have this ability, is that let's say you've created your captions in English, so you have that nice clean English file ready to go. What we would do is because I had a translator on staff, she would actually create Spanish captions for me. And then I was able to make sure that they lined up nice and accurately with the video that was being depicted in the timings.

And so then when the viewer goes to select closed captions, not only would they see English, but they would also see the Spanish language available. So while the audio was in English, they were getting those Spanish captions. So those are just a couple of hints for YouTube, 'cause I think a lot of times people just assume auto-generated is the only option you have.


Then we're gonna also talk about, you know, how are you gonna pay for all of this? Especially if you're a small organization or if you're doing your own content. There are some options you can explore for funding your caption costs. And depending on your organization, you might be eligible for different types of funding, grants, or sponsorships that will pay for your captions.

If you are part of a school or a college, the first place I would look is the Educational Technology, Media, and Materials for Individuals with Disabilities Program. And this is, you know, a U.S. Department of Education collection of grants and resources that can support captioning in different capacities. You know, there's a lot. It's a list.

So I recommend checking it out and seeing which ones would be best for your school. And then if you are more specifically a community college located in California, there is a grant called Distance Education Captioning and Transcription Grant, or DECT. And that is specifically for captioning. For, you know, remote learning.

So I recommend exploring those if you're coming from education. If you are a different type of organization, if you're a small business, or a nonprofit, or just creating, you know, your own material, there's other options you can explore as well. If you are a business or a group organization, and you have employees with disabilities, you can look into federal tax credits to cover the cost of captioning for your Zoom meetings and things like that, or your events.

And then also there's corporate sponsorship. I didn't know this before we started working on this, but a lot of times television programs will have their captions underwritten by a sponsor. And you can do that too. You can, you know, look for a business who can sponsor your captions. So, you know, maybe if you're watching a show and you recognize the business name, if they credit the caption sponsor, you might reach out to that business if they're already used to sponsoring captions.

And we're gonna go ahead to the next piece now that we've, you know, paid for everything. How do you prepare those captions to be uploaded or make those edits to create nice, clean captions when you're putting everything into YouTube? The first piece of this is that your captions should be readable. So just like you would want nice readable text on a website or in a book, captions work the same way.

The captions should be large enough to read easily. And also a simple and clear font is a good idea. So a simple serif font or sans-serif is, you know, even better in this case, very simple. A good friend of ours at Knowbility, Meryl Evans says, good captions should be boring. You know, they should not be fancy, or flashy, or anything like that. Just straightforward, easy to read, unobtrusive. So nice and readable, but not necessarily the showboat.

Also choosing appropriate colors. Captions need a solid background color. This is because, you know, if the action on the screen, if there's colors that are changing, the contrast ratio between the text and the background will change with the images, and that can make the captions difficult to read. So you want a solid background color.

You also want to make sure that there's a high contrast between the text and the background, makes captions easy to read. And then use a single color for the text, much simpler. Again, boring captions are the best captions. Typically, you'll see white text on a black background. This is the way to go. I don't know how much scientific research there is behind this, but this tends to be the preferred, you know, caption color scheme.

So we recommend sticking with white text on a black background. And the next piece is, where do you put your captions? Again, not a ton of scientific data, but anecdotally, and, you know, people polled, people prefer their captions at the bottom of the screen. They're easier to read than if they were at the top. We're still figuring out why. But this is what people tend to prefer.

If you're adding other on-screen text, maybe movie credits, a phone number to call, email address. If you call within the next 20 minutes, you'll get another free version of whatever you're paying for. We see those commercials. It's a good idea to position that text near where the captions will be. And that helps viewers take in both the captions and the text on screen without having to move around the screen too much. They can perceive all the information.

The next piece we're gonna talk about is pacing our captions. How many captions should appear on the screen at once? And how do we watch the timing of our captions to make sure that they are giving the information at a good pace? First, the size of your captions. One to two lines long is good. You don't want more than that because then it gets to be too much information at once. And then in each line of text, no more than 32 characters per line.

Some people say 30 characters. And this doesn't mean you need to sit there counting characters. This is just a guideline. So, you know, you don't need to sit there and count out 32 characters per line. But get to know what that looks like, and then stick with that amount of text. Every time there's a pause or a punctuation mark, that's a good point to start a new line of text.

You really want to avoid having a period or comma in the middle of a line of captioning. That makes it a little bit more challenging to read. And then another helpful piece of information is to keep the text alignment consistent through the whole production. So if everything is left aligned for the first three minutes of your video, it should stay left aligned through the whole video.

You want to make sure it's the same place. Oh, that's a good point. So our auto-captioner gave us, oh no, this is on the slide. It's on the slide. Okay, I misunderstood. So you can even use the slide as a helpful guide. Look at that. We didn't, we were doing that. 36 characters and then 29. So when in doubt, you can just rewatch this presentation if you're trying to estimate caption length.

And then the last piece, and this is very important piece, is synchronizing your captions to the audio. The caption text should appear in line with the dialogue and sound. And we'll get a bit more into this when we talk about scrolling and pop-in captions. But one important piece that I want to talk about here, especially since we had both the Oscars and the Grammys recently, is making sure that if there's a pause or, you know, a break in the sound, that the pauses are reflected in the captions, and then the next sound or dialogue doesn't appear in the captions until it appears auditorily.

You know how there's sort of a pause between the speech, or the announcer of the award, and then the name. There's a dramatic pause. And it would be kind of disappointing if the winner's name appeared before they're actually announced. That can happen with poorly time captions. You can find examples of that on YouTube if you choose.

So that's a good scenario that can help you remember to keep your captions in line with what's happening with the sound. Next piece we're gonna talk about. So sticking with theme of pauses and other sounds, how do you indicate sounds that are not necessarily dialogue, or pauses, or music? There's different types of punctuation or conventions you can use to indicate these.

A good policy is to use brackets for sound or music. So if it's a rooster crowing, if it's thunder, if it's upbeat piano music, or a specific song. Because we're in Texas, On the Road Again by Willie Nelson could be playing in your video. You want to indicate all of that within brackets. Now, if you're also including song lyrics, you can use music note icons to differentiate these from sounds and spoken dialogue.

So I will not sing because I am kind, and I want you to come back for the next Be A Digital Ally. So I'm just gonna read this out. I have a music note icon and then the lyrics, ♪ On the road again, ♪ ♪ just can't wait to get back on the road again. ♪ And I close that with another music note icon. You can find this in the special characters menu. Or if you can't find it, you can copy and paste it from another source.

You could copy and paste it from the slide. And then what people tend to prefer hearing from me instead of singing, which is silence, how do you indicate that in your captions? You would put that also in a bracket. You would put silence or a pause, things like that. And then we're gonna talk about what if there's a particular description you want to add to your sound?

And this can be very important, because there's a lot of context that can come from the way something is said, or the type of sound that something is that you wanna include as part of the captions. So in dialogue, you would use parentheses for description. You might have a robber hiding and they might be whispering, I hear the detectives outside.

You wanna include that they're whispering because that will help the viewer to understand that they're hiding, they wanna be quiet. And I don't know why I put customer here. I must have just come off of an Access Works call or something like that. But I was trying to think of who might say this. Because we're are in Texas, we might want to emphasize that a speaker has a Texas accent, which is kind of a drawl.

And this is an actual text expression. Maybe this person is saying, well, you know what they say in Texas, drawl for the next part, he's all hat and no cattle. I think that's a great expression. It's all hat and no cattle. But they might say it in a drawling accent for emphasis. And you would want to include that in the captions.

You also want to make sure that these descriptions are short and comprehensible, like sad orchestral music or loud footsteps. You wanna keep it short and you wanna make sure that you're using descriptive language that the larger community would understand. You know, if you have someone in your family who has really loud footsteps.

For example, like my brother. If he watches this, he's gonna be really upset with me. But yet he walks around with really loud footsteps. I wouldn't want to put a video on YouTube and say, footsteps like Paul. I would say, loud footsteps. Because not everyone knows what Paul sounds like when he walks around. Sorry, Paul.

So make sure that they're comprehensible to the wider world. We're going to talk also about scrolling versus pop-in captions. And what this means is the way captions appear on the screen. Pop-in captions appear as a line or two of text at a time. This is what you'd see on YouTube if you were watching captions. And they appear even if the whole segment has not quite been spoken yet.

So it's chunks of text. And then scrolling captions have each word appear individually as it's spoken. This tends to come up more frequently if you're watching TV, like if you're in a waiting room, and the captions are coming in, I've noticed this. Most people prefer pop-in captions because they can read them at their own pace. And there's less motion, which eliminates distraction.

But if you do choose to use scrolling captions, make sure that the text appears as smoothly as possible with minimal delay. Text should appear left to right, top to bottom. Now, if you are captioning a video in a right to left language, obviously, should appear right to left. But for, you know, English, Spanish, French, left to right. Any of those languages.

And then another important piece is you want to indicate who is speaking. You want to let people know when a new speaker starts talking, and you want to do that by beginning their sentence with their name. And there's a few different ways to do this, but we like colons just because it helps to differentiate from, you know, brackets and other punctuation.

So here's an example. Jay McKay, colon, Welcome to Be a Digital Ally. Erica Braverman: We are so happy to have you here. Which we very much are. So you notice that we're using first and last names here. That's because this is the first time we're indicated in these captions. Afterwards, we would just use a first name because that would, you know, keep things smoother and more streamlined.

So the next line from Jay would be Jay, colon. You know, we're gonna talk about captions. And then anytime the speaker changes, start a new line of text, new line of caption. And then you want to eliminate ums and other filler sounds. This is probably something you've heard in English class. I know my fifth grade English teacher was very insistent that we leave out ums and uhs when we're speaking.

This is because, and this applies to captions too, and this is because you're aiming for accuracy, but also for clarity. If people are trying to get content and information from the captions, and they're full of ums and uhs, then, let's see, I'm very conscious of my ums and uhs right now as I speak. It might be hard to obtain the information.

These sounds typically don't add any information or help to the information in the captions. So there's not really a need to include them. Unless what we have on the next slide. They're there as part of a colloquialism, or vernacular, or the manner in which someone is speaking. For example, if someone was giving a speech in a movie, they were very nervous, and using a lot of ums and uhs, and you wanted to highlight that to illustrate the situation, leave them in.

Because there's giving information. Just because you have the opportunity to edit these things out, doesn't necessarily mean you should. Sometimes they do give information and you want to reflect what people are saying with accuracy. So this could include lang, conjunctions, or other vernacular.

And then we have some tips for you before we get into our practice. Tips beyond captioning. Making sure you're using high quality audio so that the sound is coming through clearly. The sound should be not only clear, but avoid loud background noise. Choose no background music. Or if you're having background music, should be low and in the background.

It should not outweigh speech or other sound. And then speak clearly and slowly. Again, fifth grade, learning to give a speech. But very important for caption content. And then insert breaks in your speech pattern to let people catch up. And then as Molly talked about earlier, avoiding flashing or blinking content. Not only is this distracting to the viewer, but certain levels of flashing, three flashes per second or more is not only WCAG violation, but very dangerous for people who might have a health condition that causes seizures.

So that's good advice beyond the captioning, just how the sound should be in your video to keep it at its best. And I believe it's time for some practice. Before we start our practice, if you've been here before, and you're used to putting your thoughts or responses in the chat, we're still gonna do this, but we're gonna do it a bit differently today because we're gonna be watching some videos.

In case there are folks attending who have a sound alert connected to their chat, or, you know, are reading the chat with a screen reader. What we're gonna do just to keep those two pieces of audio separate for everyone, is that feel free to, while you're watching the video, feel free to pop up the chat and start entering your thoughts, but don't hit send until after the video has finished playing.

Just, you know, to keep everything separate. We'll have about 30 seconds after each video to do that and wrap up the last thoughts. And also just another note on what we're, you know, hoping that people will contribute. Obviously, you can say whatever you like. But we're not asking for full out captions of the video, because that would be a lot.

We're looking more for, if you are gonna be captioning this video, what would you be considering? You know, would there be specific sounds you wanted to include, or, you know, the way someone is speaking, et cetera? And with that, we're gonna go on to the first one. And I had a lot of fun picking out these videos. So I hope you enjoy them.

So we're gonna watch a section of a movie. And I'm wondering what elements of this movie clip need to be captioned. What should you consider, especially when captioning the dialogue. Just a bit of description of what's in the video. A high school teacher is in his classroom full of students, a teenage girl with blonde hair and a yellow plaid outfit speaks from a podium at the front of the room. Her classmates chat, and do not pay attention. Take it away.

>> Should all oppressed people be allowed refuge in America? Amber will take the con position. Cher will be pro. Cher, two minutes.

>> So, okay. Like, right now, for example, the Haitians need to come to America. But some people are all, what about the strain on our resources? Then it's, like, when I had this garden party for my father's birthday, right? I said, RSVP, because it was a sit-down dinner. But people came that, like, did not RSVP. So I was, like, totally buggin'.

I had to haul ass to the kitchen. Redistribute the food. Squish in extra place settings. But by the end of the day, it was, like, the more the merrier. And so if the government could just get to the kitchen, rearrange some things, we could certainly party with the Haitians. And, in conclusion, may I please remind you that it does not say RSVP on the Statue of Liberty. [classmates applaud and cheer]

>> Thank you very much.

>> Amber, reply?

>> Mr. Hall, how can I answer that? The topic is Haiti and she's talking about some little party.

>> Hello? It was his 50th birthday.

>> Whatever. If she doesn't do the assignment, I can't do mine.


All right. So we're gonna take a few seconds to feel free to pop your thoughts on the chat. What would you consider while you were captioning this video? And if you're still thinking, no worries. We have some suggestions on the next slide for what we thought.

>> Should all oppressed people be allowed refuge in America?


All right. So this is what we thought about when we were thinking, what would you want to include in this video to fully capture the sound? Music. Excellent. Max, the music should be included. The background music, kind of the patriotic sounding music at the end. We also thought that the change in speakers and characters is important to include.

You have the teacher and then the two girls. And then of course that classic Clueless valley girl accent is very important to Cher's character. So we would want to include the all the likes and the slang. And then the student applause at the end. Even though they're not paying attention, that is part of the sound in the video. All right, I'm gonna hand this off to, forgot who's doing this one.


I think Molly's doing this one.


Molly's doing this one. This is appropriate because we have lots of dogs in attendance tonight. So this is for them.


Okay, great. Yep, so for our second one, we're going to watch, I'll give a quick description of this. A Husky dog lies down on the ground in a parking lot. A man in shorts and t-shirt tries to get the dog to move. The dog rolls back and forth, but does not get up. The man picks up the dog.

All right. So let's go ahead and watch this. And again, just think about what you would caption. What special elements you'd consider.

>> [Off-Camera Person] Try to pick him up. [dog howls] [off-camera person #1 chuckles]

>> Person #2: No. [dog whines] [Off-camera person laughs]


One second. Let me auto-translate in English. So now you're all getting to watch how you can translate your auto-captions.

>> [Off-Camera Person] Dakota, let's go. It's time to leave.


And we'll have about 30 seconds at the end.

>> [Off-Camera Person] Try and pick him up. [dog howls] [off-camera person chuckles]

>> Person #2: No. [dog whines] [off-camera person laughs]

>> Person #2: You're getting all dirty, too. Come on. [dog whines]

>> [Off-Camera Person] Dakota. Dakota, it's time. It's time to go. [dog sneezes]

>> [Off-Camera Person] Bless you. [dog whines]

>> [Off-Camera person] This guy's filming. Come on. [dog howls] [laughter] [dog howls] [off-camera person laughs]

>> [Off-Camera Person] Dakota, let's go.


So pretty cute. Okay, great. So Max, says dog moaning, noises, sneeze, and laughing. That's all great. Sumner said, caption both human voices and dog reaction. Identify speakers off-screen. That's a great one. Audio description of what dog is doing. Also great. A good consideration. So yeah, those are all great.

We put a change in speakers, exactly what Sumner said. Differentiating between the dog and the human voices. Indicate that the woman is speaking off screen. The dog howling, of course. I mean, you can't really have this video without describing a bit of those dog howls, 'cause he's very upset. And then the dog sneezing, like Max said, which explains the bless you. And, of course, the laughter, because everybody, except the dog, is having a very fun time. So good job.


I also wanted to say that with the captions, from YouTube on there, those were pretty horrendous auto captions. They were even trying to interpret the dog sounds as speech, which I'm sure what the dog was actually trying to say would be unprintable in Be A Digital Ally. But that was kinda illustrative for me of why it's so important to go back, and check, and correct those auto-captions in YouTube. Anyway, and just noting that.


Oh, great point. Okay. I think I'm gonna pass it to Cesca for our third caption.


Okay. Awesome. Thank you. All right, so for caption practice number three, we're going to play this movie clip, and see which parts need to be captioned and regarding the soundtrack.


And then can you just read the description for us as well?


Oh yes, of course. So in this description, this is an animated movie with opening credits on screen. It's a young boy who plays with a cowboy toy in his home. He drives the toy on a remote control car, slides it down a banister, and then spins with it in a rotating chair. And then he launches the toy from the chair's footrest.

>> [Woody voice recording] You're my favorite deputy. ♪ You got a friend in me ♪ ♪ You got a friend in me ♪

>> Andy: Come on, let's wrangle up the cattle. ♪ When the road looks rough ahead ♪ ♪ And your miles and miles ♪ ♪ From your nice warm bed ♪

>> Andy: Round 'em up, cowboy. ♪ You just remember what your old pal said ♪ ♪ Boy, you've got a friend in me. ♪ [RC car accelerates] [crashes into cardboard box]

>> Andy: Yee-haw. ♪ Yeah, you've got a friend in me. ♪

>> Hey, cowboy. ♪ Some other folks might be ♪ ♪ A little bit smart than I am ♪ ♪ Bigger and stronger too. ♪

>> Come on, Woody. ♪ Maybe ♪ ♪ But none of them will ever love you ♪ ♪ The way I do ♪ ♪ It's me and you, boy. ♪ ♪ And as the years go by ♪ [Andy exlaims and laughs] ♪ Our friendship will never die ♪ [Andy laughs and whoops] ♪ You're gonna see it's our destiny ♪ [Andy laughs] ♪ You've got a friend in me ♪

>> Andy: All right. ♪ Yeah you've got a friend in me ♪

>> Score. ♪ You've got a friend in me ♪

>> Andy: Wow, cool.

>> Mrs. Davis: What do you think?

>> Andy: Oh, this looks great, mom. [Mrs. Davis laughs]

>> Mrs. Davis: Okay, birthday boy.

>> Andy: We saw that at the


Always nice to have a good throwback.

>> [Woody voice recording] You're my favorite


I Just realized how millennial I went in this [indistinct] [Francesca laughs]


All right, so I'm looking at the chat here. We have Jackie who said lasso sound, whirring sound on the car. Song name and author. Yes. Ejector sound, when Woody is ejected from the chair. Yes. Musician and title of song. Mm-hmm. Yeah,

So a couple of considerations. We do have listed here background music, song title and musician, I think is very great. We could have song lyrics. Also the spoken dialogue that is done by Andy. And then also the mechanical toy's voice when Woody says you're my favorite deputy. So that way it differentiates between Andy and the toy.

And then also, yes, we have the toy sounds, the britches, the race car, and sliding down the banister. Being ejected from the chair was a good one as well.


Oh, and Andy's mom off-screen, 'cause we don't see her.


Ah, that's right.


She's talking to him at end. I'm glad. This is why practice is one of my favorite parts because then we're also thinking of what we should include. Oh, great.


Accessibility is a journey.


Accessibility is a journey.


All right, so for our last video here, we have one more. So we have two Jeeps in a jungle during a thunderstorm. Two men are in one Jeep and a young boy and girl are in the other. A giant fluffy black cat appears. The girl opens a can of cat food.

The cat attacks her Jeep. And one of the men throws another can of food into the jungle for which the cat then chases it. So we'll watch this fun little parody video and see what needs to be considered for captioning [thunder clap] [stomping footstep] [cat purrs] [stomping footsteps]

>> Keep absolutely still. His vision's based on movement. [cat licks lips and purrs] [loud, heavy stomping] [cats sniffs] [Tim breaths heavily] [thunders roars] [door slams shuts] [cat purrs] [Tim breaths heavily] [thunders roars, rain pelts against automobile] [Lex and Tim breath heavily] [Lex pops open a can] [windshield crashes and breaks] [Lex and Tim scream] [cat roars] [Lex and Tim scream] [Dr. Grant fumbles through papers] [cat purrs] [Lex and Tim scream]

>> Hey. [cat meows] [Dr. Alan breaths heavily] [cat purrs] [cat meows] [Jurassic Park theme song] [cat purrs]


All right, so let's see what we've got. Yes, the cat purring, the dino noises, the music. You know, the rain, the thunder, the dialogues by the character, the door closing, the screaming. It did, it made me giggle a lot. It reminds me a lot of my cat, too. So that's, I think that's why. So yeah, no, I think we've, I think everybody covered just about everything in there, right?

We've got the change of speakers. The tone of voice too, right? Like, are they whispering? Is their shouting, screaming? Of course, the thunder, the rainstorm, the cat meowing and purring. All those different noises.

And then of course the soundtrack music. And that might be one of those too, where if you're really trying to sell the whole, you know, reminding people what they're watching in terms of the Jurassic Park parody, you might try to put that in there where saying you like, the Jurassic Park theme music or something to that effect, so.

What's kind of interesting if you're noticing some of our videos are saying the captions are not available and that sometimes may be because of whoever uploaded the video may have disabled the auto captions. And that's always a fun thing to run into, especially if you are somebody that's trying to use it for training purposes or different examples.

And you're like, oh, but this is such a good video. Sometimes you have to try and reach out to the person who uploaded it to see if they will at least turn on the auto-captions. You know, there's also a way to provide like community contributions to your captions, too. So just some things to think about when you're looking at those YouTube videos.

All right. And I think, I don't remember. This is my slide? Oh, this is my slide. Okay. Sorry. So we also want to talk about American Sign Language interpretation. So similar to captioning, right? ASL interpreter allows deaf or hard of hearing individuals to access your content. So some people may only or primarily speak ASL. Others may not speak ASL and prefer captions.

So, you know, kind of, what are we to do? So really, ideally if you have the ability to have both an ASL interpreter and a live captioner is really kind of truly that high bar gold standard of best practice. Just because if you just have a ASL, you may be assuming, oh, well anybody who needs it speaks ASL and they may not.

But then again, some people that maybe the only way that they're communicating. So really best standard, or if you're able to do that, you know, gold standard, you really wanna have both of them in there. All right. So we are wrapping up. So please, if you have questions, start getting those ready.

We've just wanna remind you, of course, we've added some additional resources for you to explore. Some nice articles that, you know, kind of talk about the differences between subtitles and captions from Rev. The AEM center had a really nice page on how to create accessible videos. Giving some pointers, not only about captions.

Another article talking about, what is that 99% accuracy? You know, what do we mean by that? Another one talking about best practices for audio and video text alternatives. Our friend Meryl Evans had a nice little article about Caption10. So please check that one out as well. Also a captioning key from the Described and Caption Media Program.

And then also if you really wanna dive deep into the woods, the FCC Closed Caption Rules. So those are always a fun read, right? So we gave you a lot of information here. We know that, you know, a lot of you like to go back and rewatch, but we have a few minutes. So if there are any questions from anyone, now's a good time.

And I will allow a quick pause before I move on to our next slide here. Okay, so not to put anybody on the spot, but I'm gonna go ahead to our next couple of slides as you generate those questions. Our next session will be on audio description. So again, we're kind of going in that theme of talking about, you know, making those videos accessible.

So we've covered your captions and your transcripts. So now let's talk about audio description. You will notice that it won't be 'till June. And the reason for that is because we have, of course, our big event coming up in May. So, you know, it's gonna be a little hard for us to get that content for you in the quality manner that we want it to be for you, so. But please, of course go to

That's where we'll have the link as well as when we get the video recording done for this and uploaded, it'll be there on the website. So just a reminder, we do have AccessU coming up in May. This is our annual training conference on all things web accessibility, digital design content, all of that.

It will be May 9th through the 12th. It is a hybrid event. So if you're in Austin, Texas, we'd love to see you in person. But maybe if you're unable to travel or you just don't wanna be in person with people just yet, we will have a virtual presence as well. And we ask you to go check that out at

All right. So that is it. We want to thank you again for joining us. You can always find us at If you want to contribute, you can go to do And just wanna check and make sure if we don't have any questions. If not, thank you, everyone. Have a lovely evening. And we'll see you in June. But hopefully we'll also see you in May for AccessU.