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Video Captioning FAQ

The goal of this document is to provide clarity to the frequently asked questions about captioning.  For more detailed information, please visit the Classroom Technologies Media Captioning webpage.  

Is there a CSU Policy about captioning?  

Yes. "It is the policy of the CSU to make information technology resources and services accessible to all CSU students, faculty, staff and the general public regardless of disability” (CSU Executive Order 1111).  

Are instructors legally required to make electronic course materials accessible via captioning?   

Yes. Captioning is required by law on recorded videos posted to websites and other electronic instructional materials (Note: captioning is required for all electronic course materials regardless of a student accommodation request.) See Section 508
"It is the policy of the CSU to make information technology resources and services accessible to all CSU students, faculty, staff and the general public regardless of disability” (CSU Executive Order 1111 and Coded Memo AA-2013-03 - CSU Accessible Technology Initiative, for more information).  
As such, it is imperative that staff and faculty take the time to ensure that any posted web video/audio materials are accurately captioned.  Any recorded lectures from previous terms that remain available to students need to be captioned or removed until captions are made available.   

Are automated captions/transcripts (e.g., provided by Zoom, YouTube) sufficient for compliance with the CSU captioning policy that any posted web video/audio materials are accurately captioned?  

No. Captions from Zoom and YouTube are not considered sufficient or reliable for accessibility unless the caption transcript is edited for accuracy. The owner of a Zoom recording can edit the automatic transcript for accuracy via their calpoly.zoom.us homepage; Zoom’s interactive transcript and captions may take up to a few days to be available. YouTube video‘s automatic captions can be edited for accuracy either by the video owner or by someone else after the owner gives that individual editing permissions.   

How should instructors display closed captions on recorded presentations?  

CTLT’s Instructional Continuity: Captioning for Live and Recorded Lectures contains tutorial links for adding captions to recorded videos that you make in Zoom, Screencast-O-Matic, Camtasia, and Microsoft Stream, among other video platforms. Scroll down to the heading Closed Captioning for Asynchronous (Recorded) Presentations to find the tutorial links for your desired video platform. 

Do instructors need to provide captions during live video presentations?  

While not legally required, captioning during live video presentations is best practice, especially because live captioning supports access for students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing  and students with ADHD or learning disabilities as well as visual learners, English Language Learners, and others; captioning during live video presentations is therefore a practice that is inclusive of all student-learners. Live captioning is legally required if a DRC-affiliated student is approved for live captioning as a disability accommodation.  

How can instructors automate captioning for live video presentations?  

  • CTLT’s  Instructional Continuity: Captioning for Live and Recorded Lectures contains tutorial links for using automated captions in live (synchronous) presentations in Zoom 
  • Scroll down to the heading ZOOM: Options for live (real-time) captioning to find the tutorial links for your presentation setup.  
  • Please note: Automated captions are not sufficient when captioning has been requested for a disability-related accommodation. Automated captions are not as accurate as those produced by professional real-time captioning and may include critical errors that impact the information or context of what is communicated. For additional information or assistance, please contact the Disability Resource Center

NOTE: If you plan to post a recording of a live presentation, keep the following tips in mind if you are using Zoom live captions, PowerPoint Online’s Present Live subtitles, or PowerPoint software’s Presentation Translator: 

  • After enabling live captions in Zoom, the instructor (or Zoom host) should immediately click “Hide Subtitles” so the subtitles don’t show up in your recording. Your meeting attendees will still be able to independently choose to "Show Subtitles" if they wish to see them in their own Zoom window. 
  • PowerPoint Online's Present Live subtitles will not show up on the presenter's screen and therefore aren't a concern when it comes to the recording; the subtitles will only be seen by attendees who choose to view them on their own screens. 
  • When using Presentation Translator in PowerPoint desktop software, the instructor (or the Zoom host) should not show the “live” automated subtitles while presenting, as those would not be editable for accuracy at a later time. Instead, students can access the live subtitles on their own devices via the QR code generated by Presentation Translator at the start of the presentation, thus allowing the video to be recorded without any incorrect auto-generated captions.

Where can instructors find additional captioning resources?  

Click on the links below to access additional captioning resources offered by the CTLT and ITS.  

Where can instructors go for support with captioning?

At present, Cal Poly has not identified a centralized unit responsible for support with captioning. Both IT and CTLT can support faculty, depending on the need. Further, because there is no established funding source to support faculty with costs incurred for captioning, each academic department is responsible for covering any related costs to faculty for complying with this legal requirement. Through CSU, Cal Poly uses an outside vendor, Automatic Sync Technologies, offering low rates and timely turn-around to meet campus captioning needs. 

Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Video Captioning Training

The DRC provides monthly training workshops on DIY video captioning that all campus members (faculty, staff, students) can attend. Announcements for upcoming workshops will be posted in the CTLT e-newsletter and the Cal Poly Report. To register for an upcoming DIY video captioning training session, visit the Cal Poly Accessibility homepage.

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