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Video Captioning

Closed Captions Required for all Videos

All videos posted to Davidson websites, including websites funded by the college, and college social media websites, must comply with federal accessibility requirements and include closed captions. This applies to all department or program social media accounts, including Facebook, YouTube and Vimeo.

For social media sites like Twitter and Instagram that don't offer the ability to upload a separate caption file, we recommend adding captions as an overlay on the video file using freely available tools like the VideoLan VLC Player (Mac, Windows or Linux) or MacX Video Converter Pro (Mac). Be sure to make a copy of the original video file first and add your video captions directly to the video copy (again this is only for sites that don't offer the option to upload a separate caption file like an .srt file). 

Recommended Free Captioning Workflow

We recommend that you use YouTube for captioning videos. YouTube offers automatic captioning and creates a caption file that can then be edited through the YouTube account interface. A final version of the caption can be exported for use on other websites, including Facebook and Vimeo or captions added as an overlay to videos posted to Twitter and Instagram. 

  1. Create a department YouTube account - use the naming convention Davidson [Department Name]. If you need to provide other users with access to the YouTube account you can do so in the YouTube account interface. See also how to create a YouTube account.
  2. Upload video to YouTube as an unlisted video - this allows the video to not appear publicly on YouTube channels or YouTube search, but have it available for automatic captioning. Allow one-to-two hours or more for automatic captions to run (longer videos may require more time). You do not need to submit a request for automatic captions to start, it happens automatically. Once video captions are edited and finalized you can change the video from unlisted to public so it appears in your YouTube channel and in YouTube search
  3. Edit automatic captions - once automatic captions are run, the captions file will appear in your YouTube captions screen. You can edit the captions file directly within the YouTube interface. See also how to review, edit and publish automatic captions
  4. Download .SRT captions file - download a final version of the edited captions file (.SRT file) for uploading to other sites that use captions, including Facebook and Vimeo. An .SRT file is a text file that includes captioned text with time codes that correspond to the content in your video. Use the .SRT file to apply a captions overlay to videos uploaded to Twitter or Instagram. See also how to download an .SRT file from YouTube.  

*Important note about the accuracy of YouTube automatic captions: YouTube automatic captions are only 60-70 percent accurate and typically lack proper capitalization and punctuation, may miss some words or include words that are clearing incorrect. Simply relying on automatic captions alone, without any editing, is not in compliance with federal website accessibility requirements.

Sharing .SRT Caption Files

.SRT files can be uploaded/shared with other sites, including YouTube, Facebook and Vimeo or added as text overlays on a video file before uploading to sites that don't yet support captioning like Twitter and Instagram.

  1. Upload .SRT file to Facebook - learn how to upload or replace a .SRT caption file on Facebook.
  2. Upload .SRT file to Vimeo - learn how to upload or replace a .SRT caption file on Vimeo.
  3. Display captions directly on video file (Twitter and Instagram) - some websites don't yet support uploading a separate .SRT caption file. For social media sites like Twitter and Instagram that don't offer the ability to upload a separate caption file, we recommend adding captions as an overlay on the video file using freely available tools like the VideoLan VLC Player (Mac, Windows or Linux) or MacX Video Converter Pro (Mac). Be sure to make a copy of the original video file first and add your video captions directly to that video (again this is only for sites that don't offer the option to upload a separate caption file like an .srt file).

Paid Captioning Services

There are a large number of paid services that will caption videos. You can expect to pay $1 per minute or more for video captioning through a paid service. College Communications recommends using Rev.com if you feel the need to use an outside service for video captioning. Their cost is affordable and turnaround time is typically within 24 hours. The end result is a professional caption file that needs little, if any, editing. Rev.com can also access your YouTube and Vimeo accounts directly and upload the final captioned file for your approval after it is completed.