University Communicators Guide

Video Captions

All videos posted to the web or social media must be captioned—it is essential for accessibility policy and it makes your content more user-friendly. Most videos on social media are now watched without sound, so having captions allows more users experience your content.

Keep captions in mind when you are filming and editing your video and place on-screen graphics or key visuals (such as a person's name or title) where they won't be covered by captioning.

There are two types of video captioning: closed and open. We recommend using closed captioning where available.

Closed Captioning—Toggles on and off

Most people are familiar with closed captions on TV where you use menu selections to turn them on and off. Hosting platforms like YouTube and Facebook also allow you to add closed captions that can be toggled on and off. Essentially, you upload or edit a special text file that is timed to the video playback. 

YouTube and Facebook can also generate autocaptions for you, but they are machine generated and only about 70% accurate. You will need to edit and cleanup any autogenerated captions—they are not accessible (and are sometimes embarrassing) when they are full of errors.

Tip: Don't rely solely on auto-generated captions or they will just be "craptions."

Open Captioning—Always on

Open captioning is when the video's text version is written on screen and part of the original video file. They cannot be "turned off." This is a great solution for when closed captioning is not available (Twitter, Instagram, etc.) or when the video will most likely be viewed without sound. 

Tip: Make sure your open captions have adequate color contrast (e.g. white writing on a black background) so they are accessible.

Help With Video Captions

Need help setting up or editing your video captions? Contact the Office of Accessible Technology by submitting a caption service request

Additional information and captioning guidelines are available on the OATS website.