Making Audio and Video Content Usable by All Learners

The Universal Design Toolkit

The Universal Design Toolkit is a set of simple principles to apply to your course materials that allows instructors to provide content that works for everyone. There are practices to follow for Documents and Presentations; Audio and Video; and Utilities and Tools. Making Audio and Video Content Usable by All Learners are one of the principles in the toolkit.

Making Audio and Video Content Usable by All Learners

The Office of Teaching and Learning with Technology (TLT) and Disability Services for Students (DSS) will train instructors and volunteers to help instructors close caption videos. Instructors are ultimately responsible for providing accurately captioned videos in all their courses.

Instructors upload or create their own videos into Panopto Recordings as part of their Canvas courses. Videos with audio require closed captions, or text displaying the audio content that is synchronized with the video. Panopto can create auto-generated captions based on the audio track of the video. The auto-generated captions are typically 80% accurate and must be edited to meet ADA requirements. 

The instructor or Captioning Brigade volunteer will edit these auto-generated captions to accurately reflect the content heard in the video. Learn how to edit auto-generated captions to accurately reflect the content heard in the video. You will use four specific captioning standards to edit auto-generated captions in Panopto that are covered in this workshop.

Closed captions are defined as blocks of text usually shown at the bottom of a video that mirrors the spoken audio. They capture not just speech but also essential sounds, like, for example, [doorbell], [laughter], or [applause]. They allow the viewer to read the text and absorb visuals at the same time. Closed captions can be turned on or off. 

Transcripts are defined as a text document that represents the entire spoken audio of a video or audio file. A transcript is a separate document that can be read or printed.

Captioning Standards

Closed captioning (CC) is the process of displaying text on the screen of the video to provide additional or interpretive information. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) defines closed captioning standards and requires that captions:

  1. Accurately reflect what is in the video's audio track by matching the dialogue, music, and sounds, and identify the speakers.
  2. Are delivered synchronously with the corresponding dialogue and other sounds at a speed that can be read by viewers.
  3. Are complete for the entire program.
  4. Don’t obscure important on-screen information and are not obscured by other information on the screen.

When captioning instructional video content, focus on these four main elements of closed captions:

  1. Speaker Identification
  2. Background noise/sound effects
  3. Language Mechanics
  4. Accuracy & Timing

Speaker Identification

Establishing the identity of the speaker both on and off screen helps with clarity.

  1. All speakers in the video should be identified in the captions either by their name or by labeling them numerically based upon appearance in the video.
    • (Speaker 1):
    • (Name):
  2. When the speaker appears or can be heard, the speaker should be identified.The speaker’s name should be in parentheses.
    • (Tom) Hey, you wanna go to the store with me?
  3. Identify the narrator in the video in the same manner as you identify a speaker. Include their gender, if possible, when identifying the narrator.
    • If there are multiple speakers and only one narrator, identify as (female narrator) or (male Tom) at the beginning of the media. It is not necessary to identify gender for each caption thereafter.
  4. Do not assume who the speaker is until they identify themselves either by name or by an onscreen graphic. 
  5. Identify the speakers or narrator everytime the person speaking changes. For example, during a conversation, there may be two or three speakers. Identify each speaker as they add to the conversation.

Background Noise/Sound Effects

Only background noises or sounds that are important to understanding the content should be included in the captions.

  1. Caption the background noise or sound effects in brackets, if the noise is needed for the understanding the video.
    • [dog barking]
  2. Identify if the noise or sound effect is off screen. For example if there is an explosion off screen, and all the actors run off stage.
    • [loud explosion offscreen]
  3. For continuous sound effects, it is not necessary to repeat the source of the sound if it is making the same sound for several minutes later.
  4. Identify music and the instrutment type if possible.
    • [Music]
    • [Upbeat guitar]

Language Mechanics

Language mechanics incorporate the proper use of spelling, capitalization, punctuation, grammar, and other factors deemed necessary for high-quality captioned media.

  1. Capitalization should only be used when there is screaming or shouting.
    • HELP!
  2. Use serial commas when captioning a list
    • I saw a lion, a tiger, and a bear.
  3. When captioning a word that is spelled out, separate capital letters with hyphens.
    • C-A-R
  4. Be sure to correct spelling errors by listening to the sentence in context.
    • For example, “there” “their” and “they’re” all sound the same.
    • Listen to the audio to make sure the right “there” is captioned.
  5. Use proper punctuation throughout the captions. 
    • Do not end every caption block with a period but rather end the full sentence with the period.
  6. Use an ellipsis when there is a significant pause within the audio only if there is nothing of importance being displayed visually.
    • Example: I don't know…I'm not sure.
    • Do not use ellipsis to show that the sentence continues into the next caption
  7. Caption filler words for at least the first minute or two of the video.

    • If captioned throughout the entire video, the excess characters could cause the captions to fall behind the audio.

    • For example, (Terry): Hello, um, how are you today? Uh, I had a good, um weekend.

  8. Spell out all numbers from one to ten, but use numerals for all numbers over ten. 

    • Refer to Captioning Key for additional number possbilites in captions. 

Accuracy and Timing

Accurate captions should be timed to correspond with what is being seen in the video.

  1. Captions should align with the audio content being displayed. In the Panopto video, the captions should appear on the screen at the same time the instructor is talking about the content appearing on the screen.

Upload Videos and Import Auto-Generated Captions 

Instructors will upload audio or video files into their course using Panopto and import auto-generated captions:

  1. Click Panopto Recordings from the Course menu on the left.
  2. Click the Create option on the top panel, select Your Folder, then select Upload Media.
  3. Open the folder on your computer where the audio or video files are located.
    1. Then drag and drop the audio or video file(s)
    2. OR Click inside of the box and select the file from your computer.
    3. You can drop multiple files into the video upload window at one time to create multiple recordings.

Uploading audio or video files to Panopto in a Canvas course

  1. Wait for Uploading to finish, which may take several minutes based on the size and amount of files uploaded. 
    Wait for Uploading to finish processing

  2. You can navigate away from the page once the file is finished uploading. You will receive an email notification when the Panopto Recordings are ready to view.
    • It may take a few more minutes or hours before the auto generated captions are available for importing into the Panopto Recording.
  3. From the Course Navigation Menu, click Panopto Recordings
  4. Locate the video and click Edit
  5. Click Captions, click the Import captions option, select Import automatic captions

Working with a Captioning Brigade Volunteer (Optional)

How to request and work with a volunteer to close caption Panopto Recordings.

The Instructor:

  1. Contact to request a Captioning Brigade volunteer.
  2. Approve adding the Captioning Brigade volunteer to your courses that contain videos to caption.
  3. A worksheet with your name will be created in the Captioning Brigade Video Log. Add each video that needs captioning to a row in the worksheet.

The Captioning Brigade Volunteer:

  1. Refer to the Captioning Brigade Video Log to locate videos your assigned instructor needs captioned.
  2. Find your assigned instructor's name located at the bottom of the sheet.
  3. You will need to use this Captioning Brigade Video Log to locate videos that need captioning.
  4. Communicate with the instructor using email if you need additional content clarifications.
    1. From the Course Navigation Menu, click Panopto Recordings
    2. Locate the video and click Edit
      • If you do not have Edit access, contact the instructor
    3. From the left-hand side menu click Captions
      • If auto-generated captions are missing, contact the instructor
    4. Hover your mouse over Captions and click the More Icon (three dots)
    5. Select Edit
    6. Using the Captioning Standards edit the auto-generated captions
    7. When you are finished making changes click Apply
  5. After you have captioned the video, return to the Captioning Brigade Video Log and add the date you completed the captioning with your initials.
  6. Email the instructor that the video has been captioned with any additional notes you want to include.

Captioning Brigade Video Log


Support Options

  1. Contact an Instructional Design Partner to assist you in making instructional materials usable by as many people as possible, regardless of disability or assistive technology in your course. Access is the responsibility of instructors creating and teaching courses.
  2. To request technical support, submit a Technology Service Desk email to start a ticket.


Article ID: 105845
Tue 4/21/20 1:03 PM
Tue 6/23/20 3:19 PM