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Creating Effective Captioning Through Design

taught by: Brent Shiver

co-presented by: Meghan Grable

Session Summary:

Navigating through the captioning landscape can be frustrating and confusing, particularly for beginners. The participants will gain a better understanding of how to leverage available captioning technologies and methodologies to create effective captioning with the help of design-inspired guidelines.


Captioning online videos can be challenging and confusing, especially for the first-timers or those with limited experience. Although the captioning technology has been around for a while, it remains fragmented without clear guidelines and techniques to employ. Often the hurdles leave the users more frustrated and confused right off the bat.

We will provide an overview of the captioning methods and techniques that are available today. We will talk about the pros and cons of each. There is an array of platforms that support video player and management that include leveraging automatic speech recognition and editing capabilities. We will discuss some of the popular ones, including free and paid services. Some allow uploading of caption files so they can attach to the video. We also will review some of the popular caption file formats and how we can convert them between one another. Unfortunately, particular platforms do not support the simple process of attaching the files and require videos with embedded captions. We will share tips on how to accomplish this. Finally, we will briefly cover the benefits and drawbacks of outsourcing videos to be captioned by professionals.

We will share our experience navigating through the captioning jungle and how we were able to develop a clear roadmap that helps a wide range of users from novice through advanced. To develop a roadmap suited to help users create captions, the team leveraged design thinking methodologies. The team talked with the video content owners, ranging from beginners to experts, and users dependent on captions. By doing this, the team was able to uncover what the exact pain points to entry and execution were. After understanding the pain points, site recreation occurred. While the old site’s information was still relevant, a site restructure was heavily needed to cater to more users and guide them through how to caption. From there, the team turned the pain points from the initial exercise into actionable items. The demo of the easy to use captioning process will showcase our execution of leveraging design thinking methods.


  • IBM Accessibility:
  • IBM Watson Captioning:

Practical Skills:

  • Gain a better feel of the current captioning technology landscape
  • Understand the pros and cons of different captioning methods and technologies
  • Learn about how we were able to harness design thinking to achieve the captioning guidelines