Why Caption?

More than 35,000,000 people in the U.S. alone report some degree of hearing loss which could make it impossible for them to follow the soundtrack of a video without captions. Many people who do hear have cognitive challenges that make it hard for them to assimilate information presented audibly. Also, some of your students will be non-native speakers of English and captions will make it much easier for them to comprehend your presentations. Finally, captioning allows viewers to search your videos for keywords, allowing them to pinpoint sequences of interest within the complete video.

All faculty, whether they teach online or on campus, are required to meet the State and Federal requirements for ensuring accessibility of all course materials. All courses must be accessible regardless of whether or not a disabled student is currently enrolled. This means that all videos must be captioned and all audio materials must be accompanied by a transcript.


The Basic Steps

The process of captioning consists of two stages: the first, transcription of the soundtrack into a text file, is by far the most time-consuming. Think of this as the written script of the soundtrack of the video. Once this is accomplished, insertion of the text captions into the video in sync with the video action is relatively quick and simple. This second syncing process is what allows the text to be displayed at the correct time interval of the video, so that the audio is played at the same time that the text gets displayed.

The DECT Grant

Obviously, the easiest way to solve this issue is to have a professional provider do the captioning for you! Indeed, California Community College faculty have access to the Distance Education Captioning and Transcription (DECT) grant funds for this purpose. If you would like to take advantage of the DECT Grant funds for captioning your videos, please submit the Request for Captioning Form to  In the event, however, that you do not qualify for these funds (not a California Community College faculty member), funds run short, or you simply desire the quick response, convenience and flexibility of captioning your own videos, you can do this yourself.


Doing Your Own Captioning

YouTube, TechSmith Relay, and Camtasia Studio all have captioning functionality that can be used to make your instructional media accessible to students. We'll cover these in more detail on the individual pages for those tools.

Captioning in YouTube

YouTube has an automated captioning process which transcribes and syncs the captions automatically for you, and can be used as an excellent starting point. You can edit the machine-generated captions inside YouTube (for your own videos) to make them more accurate. If you have a text transcript of the audio, you can upload the transcript file, and the syncing process of a manually generated transcript (text file) is done automatically by YouTube. Check out the YouTube page for more specific captioning tutorials.

Captioning with TechSmith Relay
Camtasia Relay does the transcription and syncing for you - it's a great option! The more you use Camtasia Relay, the more accurately the program will auto-transcribe and sync the captions for you. The program "gets to know" your voice because it's linked to your user profile, and the more you use the program, the better it gets at doing the hard work for you! Get to know Camtasia Relay, and it will get to know you too!

Captioning with Camtasia Studio

Camtasia Studio integrates Microsoft Windows voice-recognition engine to produce a text transcript of the audio file. Once the transcript has been edited, Camtasia's syncing process consists of listening to the video while clicking on the text captions at the correct intervals for their display. Therefore, the syncing process takes the same amount of time that it will take to listen to the video the whole way through.


General Captioning Tips
  • Microphone quality: You will likely get better results from the auto-transcription engines when using a better quality microphone. Here's one good one we have used:
  • Using proper sentence structure: Another way to get better results form the auto-transcription engines is to use proper sentence structure and grammar in your recordings. This can be difficult to do in our normal speech patterns, but it does improve performance when it comes to the auto-transcription processes.
  • Using a script: One way to make the captioning process easier is to write out the script before doing the recording. The transcription step, then, is taken care of and it's just a matter of syncing it to the video afterwards. This can also be a good way to ensure that you cover everything that you need to in your videos, while keeping it short and focused. You can take the script one step further and use it with the teleprompter included in the Personal Video Studio equipment, making it easier to maintain eye contact with the camera while reading your script.
  • Find a Workflow for You: You may find that you have several options when it comes to recording and captioning your instructional media. Don't let this be overwhelming. Find a workflow that you are comfortable with and that works well for you.

    Please feel free to contact SDCCD Online Learning Pathways for questions regarding captioning your instructional media.