Cobra Learning - Captioning,Transcripts and Audio Descriptions

Captioning, Transcripts and Audio Descriptions

What Are Captions?

Captions are on-screen text descriptions that display the dialogue, identifies the speakers, and describes other relevant sounds that are otherwise inaccessible to the viewers of a video, television show, movie, computer presentation, or similar media production. Captioning was developed to assist people with hearing impairments, but can be useful to all people depending on their situation. For example, captions can be read when audio can’t be heard no matter what the reason, such as a noisy surrounding environment, or due to the need to keep quiet (no audio playing), such as in a hospital or in a library when headphones aren’t available. Captions can also help improve language comprehension and fluency, whether in your native language or a second language.

Captions can be either closed or open. Closed captions can be turned on or off, whereas open captions are always visible.

Captions are just text transcript files with time codes identifying when that phrase is to appear on screen. You can create your own caption file using software found online, but we recommend using YouTube to caption your personally created videos. (NOTE: if a non-captioned video that you want to use in your course does not belong to you, then check with the Learning Commons to see if they can assist you with finding a captioned copy of the video or find a suitable replacement).

Captioning a YouTube Video

  1. Start by creating your video and uploading it to a YouTube account. (By default, YouTube will automatically caption your video but you will likely need to review it for accuracy and edit it to make it compliant).
  2. Go to your content and/or channel to locate the video you want to review/edit. Click the details link, then select Subtitles.
  3. Choose your video language and click Set Language. Once you have set the language, you’ll see a published subtitles/closed-captioning in your chosen language.
  4. Select the Duplicate and Edit link to access the captions editor.
  5. You’ll note that YouTube does not do capitalization and punctuation, so you'll have to correct all of that; but most of the audio transcription should be fairly accurate as YouTube has improved its auto-captioning tool.  You can play and pause the video as you make the corrections to ensure that the captioning is correct.
  6. Once you have completed your edits, click Save Draft if you need to come back again or Publish if you are done..  You will be returned to the video edit home. You’ll now see two caption files.  The Automatic is the one that YouTube did.  The other will be the one that you just edited and saved.  You can click on each to ensure which is the corrected file.
  7. Select the options (three dots) and select Unpublish button on the automatic one so that your video will use the corrected, compliant caption file.  (You may have to select the other file and click the Publish button to ensure that the captions are set properly).

Note: If you want to download a copy of the caption file, click on Options link, download, and select .srt.  This will allow you to download a copy of the caption file to your computer.

Captioning a YuJa Video

  1. Start by creating your video and uploading it to a YuJa account. (By default, YuJa will automatically caption your video but you will likely need to review it for accuracy and edit it to make it compliant).
  2. Go to your media library and locate the video you want to review/edit. Hover over the video and click the Edit option.  This will open the video in the editor.
  3. You'll note the captions below the timeline.  You can click play and when the caption appears on the screen, simply pause, click into the caption box and update the text.
  4. Once you are done editing your captions, click the Save button at the top of the screen.

Note: If you want to download a copy of the caption file, click on More link, then Accessibility.  Then click the download button next to the SRT caption file.  It will automatically download as an SRT file.  You can also download a PDF or Plain Text version of the transcript from this screen as well.  (See "Creating a Transcript" below).

Creating a Transcript

What is a transcript? It is a text-based representation of audio, in our case a text based representation of recorded audio. It is usually just a word document with all the spoken dialogue and sound effects in the audio recording typed out in text. Nothing fancy or formal necessary, although you can refer to the DCMP Captioning Guidelines for how to represent multiple speakers and sound effects.

You can create a transcript just by typing the dialogue and sound effects that are in a recording, into a Word document. But there are tools that can make this process easier. One option is the simple but effective Transcribe tool ($20/yr). It can slow down your audio file playback with very little distortion, enough that it keeps pace with your typing speed (Free 7 day trial).

So for video, you want to provide captions (synchronized to the video), and for audio recordings you will want to provide a transcript (not synchronized). Caption files in videos are just transcript files with timecodes.

Note: to create a transcription from a caption file, you can download the caption file as described above and remove the timecodes. 

Audio Descriptions

Audio descriptions is narration added to a video that describes important visual details that connect be understood from the main soundtrack alone.  It is a means to inform individuals who are blind or who have low vision about the visual content essential for comprehension.  Audio descriptions provide information about actions, characters, scene changes, on-screen text, and other visual content.  Audio descriptions supplement the regular audio track of a program.  It is usually added during existing pauses in dialogue and is sometimes called "video descriptions" or "descriptive narration."  This definition comes from the Federal Government's Section 508 Standards.

There are some sites the provide assistance with getting audio descriptions added to YouTube videos.  One such site is called You Describe, which allows registered users to add audio descriptions to videos posted to YouTube and submitted to the YD website as "wish list" videos.

YuJa has a built-in audio description feature that allows you to upload your descriptions.

Best Practices/Scripts

Many people prefer to write out a script before recording their audio or video file. A script helps you stay on track during your recording session and helps you make sure that you don’t forget something important. If you’ve written out a script in advance, you already have the text you need for the video captions and the audio transcript.

If you have a script, then creating a caption file on YouTube or YuJa is much easier.

  1. Start by creating your video and uploading it to your video account.  (Both YouTube and YuJa will auto-caption your videos).
  2. Go to manager and locate the video you want to edit.
  3. Using the edit feature and your script, you can copy/paste your text into the editor.
  4. Review the captions to ensure that they are properly synced to the video. 

Note: if your script is properly capitalized and punctuated, you will not need to do any edits.  That’s why this is the recommended method to use for captioning videos.


Learning Commons
(217) 373-3839 * learningcommons@parkland.edu * Text (217) 615-0079 * https://www.parkland.edu/learningcommons
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