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Accessibility - FAQs about Video Captioning

This article includes frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers about video captioning.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Video Captioning

  • Before you submit a video captioning request, please search to see if there is a captioned version available. If a student has made a request for captioned media, you will receive a Video Request Letter through email from ARConnect.
  • If you need your media captioned and did not receive a request through ARConnect, please email with the course name, number, and student name.
  • If you need assistance with equipment, contact UWM Classroom Support at If you have general classroom questions, concerns, problems, you can call 414-229-2382 or email

Q: Do I always have to use captioned versions of films, film clips, YouTube videos, and other media?

All films, film clips, and slides must be captioned or subtitled in accordance with Federal Law. Please obtain films or video clips with captions whenever you plan to use them in class. Some professionally produced films on DVD or VHS will have closed captions, which can be activated through the DVD or TV remote. Older DVD’s and VHS tapes are often not captioned.

Q: Why is captioning important?

In addition to making video content more accessible to viewers who depend on captions, captioning can actually improve the effectiveness of video:

  • Captions improve comprehension by native and foreign language speakers. Studies show 80% of people who use video captions don’t even have a hearing loss.
  • Captions help compensate for poor audio quality or background noise within a video.
  • Captions make video useful when a person is watching with the sound off or viewing in a noisy environment that obscures the sound.

Q: How do I know if something is captioned?

If the video has closed captions, it should be labeled “CC.” Or it may be labeled SDH (Subtitled for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing). If the video is subtitled (rather than captioned) in various languages, including English, that is also acceptable.

Q: What should I do if I’m not sure whether my media is captioned?

Please send an email to or call 414-229-7328, if you need assistance checking for captions.

Q: What if the clip I plan to use is from YouTube?

If the material is on YouTube, you should check to see if it’s captioned, and if it is not captioned, request that the Accessibility Resource Center (ARC) have it captioned.

Warning about YouTube videos: Often YouTube videos show the “CC” symbol indicating they are captioned. However, if you click on the “CC” symbol, and it says “English (Auto-Generated),” these captions are produced using voice recognition software and are less than satisfactory. When used in the classroom, they may limit accessibility for the student with a hearing loss, and the errors are sometimes so inaccurate and inappropriate that they are distracting to the hearing students in class. We strongly recommend that you always review the entire YouTube video to check the accuracy of the captions before showing it in class. If captions are not accurate, you should request that ARC have them captioned.

Q: What’s the difference between auto-generated captioning and human-generated captions?

There are two important differences between auto-generated captioning (also referred to as machine-generated captions) and human-generated captions: the quality and the time required to generate captions.

Machine-generated captioning produces captions very quickly. Typically, captions can be created in about one-quarter of the total video length. For example, an hour-long video could be captioned using auto-generated captions in approximately 15 minutes.

Of course, auto-generated also provides a starting point from which people can manually create 100% accurate captions. Auto-generated text can be added to the video as closed captions, which people can then edit.

Human-generated captions take substantially longer to produce but provide results that are at least 99% accurate. In some cases, human-generated captions can be turned around in 24 hours, but typically, you can expect a 2-5 day turnaround.

If you are required to meet Section 508 requirements for accessibility, you will need to use human-generated captions to guarantee your captions meet the minimum quality standards.

Q: What if I want to use an audio clip or podcast in my class?

If the material is audio only, no video, you must provide the student with a transcript. ARC can assist in getting the material transcribed if needed.

Q: I have a sign language interpreter/real-time captionist in my classroom. Why can’t the interpreter/captionist interpret the video?

Media captioning is important because the student is not able to view the media and watch the interpreter/real-time captionist at the same time, so they would miss out on important information by trying to look in two places at once.

Q: What is the difference between video transcription and captioning?

Video transcription is the process of producing a text document from the words spoken in a video. Transcribed text does not have a time value associated with it. In terms of accessibility, transcription works well for audio-only media, but falls short when it comes to audio with moving content on a screen, such as voice-over-PowerPoint slides or video.

KeywordsMedia Captions Closed Captioning CC Subtitles Accessibility Accessibility Resource Center ARC YouTube Video DCMP FAQ Equal Access Disabilities Universal Design   Doc ID93156
OwnerHelp Desk K.GroupUW-Milwaukee Help Desk
Created2019-07-16 10:25:00Updated2023-05-15 08:25:41
SitesUW-Milwaukee Help Desk
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