Providing Video Captioning

To support learners with Video Captioning Accommodations, instructors should identify any media they plan on incorporating into their lectures and or sharing on canvas throughout the quarter. A list of all media to be used, including both mandatory and supplemental material, will be reviewed by the DRC Video Captioning Coordinator. Any media that is lacking accurate captions or transcriptions, will have upgraded human captions completed by the DRC. This page will provide information on how to get video media either Captioned and/or Audio Transcribed.

Please review our tips below on how to turn on captions in various situations.  Instructors can also contact the Learning Technologies Classroom Media Support if they would like them to demo procedures for turning on captions in classrooms.  If the instructor needs immediate assistance with utilizing technology in the classroom, contact the hotline at 459-5858.

QUESTIONS? If appropriate, clarify disability-related needs with the student directly. Otherwise, contact the DRC.

3rd Party Media

All films, YouTube videos, and other 3rd party video clips, must be captioned or subtitled in accordance with Federal Law and University policy. Some professionally produced films on DVD will have closed captions which can be activated through the DVD Player or TV remote. Older DVDs and VHS tapes are often not captioned. Videos on Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming sites are always captioned or subtitled.

The Media Collection in the UCSC Library currently has several streaming services that offer captioned and subtitled films and videos.  These services include Kanopy, Swank, Alexander Street, and more. The media on these sites are captioned.

Use this site to search the library holdings for DVDs and films available on streaming services: If you have questions about whether a particular DVD has captions, contact Media Desk:

Media Desk:  831-459-4508

Contact the DRC Captioning Services if you need guidance on checking for captions and reviewing accuracy on any other 3rd Party Media.

Instructor Owned Media

Any pre-recorded instructor owned videos, will need to be accurately captioned, regardless of whether it is instructor-owned or campus-owned.

Captions vs Subtitles

Subtitles are intended for people who are able to hear, and are most often used to display a different language than the one that is spoken in the video.  They only include the words spoken.  Captions are intended to provide access to people who can’t hear. Unlike subtitles, captions include the spoken word, sound effects, and identification of speakers.  When a video has subtitles but is not available with captions, it is generally acceptable as an accommodation for deaf and hard-of-hearing students, though captions are preferred.

For more information as to what captions are and its intentions, check out Demystifying Captions in Less than 10 Minutes


If the material has audio and video, it will need to be captioned. A transcript is not sufficient for a video as the student would have to move their eyes back and forth from the screen to the documented text, causing them to potentially miss relevant visual content and context. However, if the instructor can provide a transcript, the captioning process will require less time and be less costly.

If the instructor plans to use audio-only files in class such as podcasts, a transcription is appropriate. Many podcast sites provide these for download, otherwise the instructor may request for the audio file to be transcribed by the DRC.

Media when Interpreters and Live Captioners are Present

In some cases, a student may also use the support of Interpreters and or Live Captioners during  in person lectures or online synchronous class. Media material should still be captioned and or transcribed even when an Interpreter or Live Captioner is present. If there are multiple speakers, and a lot of activity or visuals that need to be seen in order to fully understand the video, interpreting the video in sign language is not adequate. It is impossible for the student to watch the video and the interpreters simultaneously. It is also difficult for interpreters to act out all the speaking parts or describe and interpret the visuals in such a way that it will be meaningful for the student.

In addition, UCSC captioners work remotely and often can only hear the class. They can’t see the video for context and the sound may not be clear enough. Again, it is quite difficult for the student to watch the video and the captioners’ captions, viewed on their laptop, simultaneously.

YuJa Automatic Captions

Any recordings saved in YuJa are automatically captioned using Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR). Typically these auto captions are not considered accurate enough for accessibility. There are options in Yuja for replacing those auto captions with human-based captions. The DRC requests human captions for YuJa videos for any class that has DRC students with the video captioning accommodation.

Checking for and Reviewing Captions

If the DVD 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. 

For any streaming videos the instructor plans to use, they should check for a “CC” button and then review the captions to make sure they are accurate.  Be aware that most major streaming platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime often provide captions.

*A 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 recommend that instructors review the entire YouTube video to check the accuracy of the captions before showing it in class.  If captions are not accurate, instructors should request that the DRC have them captioned.

An easy trick for determining if a YouTube videos is likely acceptable for access purposes:

  • Click on the “CC” symbol at the bottom right of the video window. In the top left, if it says “English (auto generated),” it is captioned using voice recognition, which is not acceptable for accessibility.
  • If a YouTube video is captioned by a human, it is more likely to be accurate. Click on the “CC” symbol, and in the upper left of the video it will show “English” in the upper left corner rather than “auto generated.”

Captioning Support

With sufficient time, it is possible to obtain captioned materials. Instructors should make sure to check their DVDs and streaming videos well in advance (preferably before the quarter begins) to determine if they are captioned or not. If the material is not captioned, instructors can contact the DRC at for guidance on getting materials captioned. 

If instructors have a DRC student enrolled in their class and the student requires video captioning as an accommodation, the DRC Captioning Team can assist in making sure all the media is captioned or transcribed as needed.  In this case, the DRC will contact the instructor and set up a plan with them for getting captioning done as needed. This includes lecture recordings, supplemental films, videos, and clips used in the course.

Online Education may be able to assist with captioning for asynchronous/pre-recorded videos when there is not a DRC student in the class. Contact or visit Online Education’s accessibility page for more information.

If instructors do not have a DRC student in class, they can still contact the DRC with questions related to media captioning.

Captioning Turn Around Time

When the DRC captions videos for classes, short videos of 30 minutes or less can often be turned around in about 24 hours. For longer videos, it may take 2-3 days. Please keep in mind the DRC captions a very large volume of material, and we appreciate receiving the captioning requests as much in advance as possible.

Turning on Closed-Captions

In the Classroom

For DVDs: Use one of the installed computers to play the DVD and then follow one of the sets of instructions below.

Macintosh, Mac DVD Player:

  1. Launch DVD Player.
  2. Go to: Features Menu > Closed Captioning and select “Turn On”.

Macintosh, VLC:

  1. Launch VLC
  2. Go to: File menu > Open Disc and select the DVD.
  3. Select “Play Movie”.
  4. Go To: Video Menu > Subtitles > Track and select “Closed Caption 1”.

Windows, Windows Media Player (not available in Windows 8 or beyond):

  1. Launch Windows Media Player.
  2. Play the DVD.
  3. Click on the arrow at the bottom middle of the window.
  4. Go To: Special Features > Captions and select “Closed Captions”.

Windows, VLC:

  1. Launch VLC.
  2. Play DVD.
  3. Go To: Subtitle > Sub Track > and select “Subtitles 1” or  Subtitle > Sub Track > Closed Captions > “Closed Captions 1”  
On Streaming Platforms

There are many different video platforms used online, and these instructions will not cover all of them. Here’s how to access captions on some common players.

  • YouTube: Locate the “CC” symbol on the lower right of the YouTube video window. Click it to turn captions on. Again, if it says “English (auto-generated),” the captions may be inaccurate and unintelligible. If so, do not use them; instead, ask the DRC to have the video captioned properly.
  • Vimeo: Like YouTube, the Vimeo video window has a “CC” symbol in blue on the lower right. Click on it to turn on captions. You can also select available languages.
  • TED Talks: Most TED Talks are subtitled. Click on the play button (then you may want to pause while you turn on subtitles). Click on the subtitles icon. A new window appears where you can choose your language. Click on the language you want and close the window. Your video will play with subtitles.
Last modified: May 30, 2024