Captions: A Faculty Guide

The Basics

  • Unlike subtitles, captions provide synchronized text for all audio content, including dialogue, identification of speakers, music, laughter, and sound effects. They eliminate a communication barrier and ensure that people who are deaf and hard of hearing have equal access to film and audio material.
  • Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires that any agency receiving federal funding make all electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities.
  • Captioning is a Universal Design strategy and can be helpful to many, including persons whose first language is not English or who may benefit from multi-modal content delivery.

When are captions required?

Any film or audio content being used in the classroom, online, or as part of the course needs to be captioned. This includes class capture and anything posted on Lyceum. For audio files alone, a transcript may be sufficient (please consult with AESS staff).

How can I check to see if captioned versions of my content already exist?

Please consider including this process in your course planning. If your course is accessible from the onset, there will be no need for an accommodation:

  • Hard copies of videos (DVD, Blue-ray)
    • Look for the symbol: CC (close-captioned) or SDH (Subtitled for the Deaf or Hard of Hearing) on the box of the video.
    • Check with Chris Schiff, Music and Arts Librarian, to see if the library has or can access captioned versions of your material: cschiff@bates.edu or X6274.
  • Online video content
    • Many online media players will have an option to turn on closed captioning. Look for a “cc” button.
    • YouTube: Include “cc” in the search bar along with the title. It’s important to note that many YouTube videos have an option to turn on automated captioning. This is generally not an acceptable accommodation due to high inaccuracy rates.
    • If you are unsure about whether captioning in an online video is acceptable, please consult with AESS staff.

What steps do I take if I’m unable to find a captioned version?

If you’ve gone through the above steps and a captioned version is not available:

  • Please notify AESS: accessibility@bates.edu or X6222 as soon as possible and we will assist you in converting video files to an accessible format.
  • Bates works with an outside vendor for this service. Please notify AESS a minimum of 7 days in advance of when the captioned video is needed.

Thank you for your partnership in ensuring equal access for students. Please reach out to us with questions or for assistance at any point.