Captions provide access to audio for individuals who are deaf who hard of hearing. They also benefit students who may not to able to access audio because of technology constraints. They can also aid comprehension. Captions include two basic elements: a transcript of meaningful audio (including narration, dialogue, and sound effects) and timestamps to sync the captioned text to the audio.

YouTube supports captioning and many videos already have captions (although the quality varies). If captions are available on an existing YouTube video, you will see a small “CC” button; click on this to view the captions.

If you find a video on YouTube (or other video sharing sites) that is not captioned, you can add captions with Amara. Visit their website for an overview and instructions; Amara is free and easy to use.

Videos you’ve created. If you’ve created a video and uploaded it to YouTube, you can create caption files. YouTube’s captioning technology is experimental and so not always 100% accurate, but it does provide a good starting point and it’s easy to use.YouTube’s captioning tool relies on speech recognition. The basic process is that you upload a transcript file (a text version of the video’s audio) and YouTube matches this text to what is heard in the video. Full guidelines on the process are available from YouTube.

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