Use of video and/or audio in online and/or hybrid classes can be a powerful way to engage students with course content. However, some students may not be able to benefit from use of rich multimedia due to physical disability, language barriers, and/or technical issues.

Most required instructional video used more than once for online and hybrid courses MUST be captioned and audio must be transcribed.

Note that when students are required to view videos in online or hybrid courses, the students must be provided with links to download any plug-ins necessary to view those videos (e.g., Flash Player, Quicktime, Windows Media Player, Silverlight, Real Player, etc.).

Why caption and transcribe?

  • Improves retention for all learners given the multimodal learning mediums of sight and sound
  • Provides content appropriate for different learning styles
  • Supports students with varied comprehension levels (ESL, DSS)
  • Compliance with the law - section 508, 504 and some state and local laws that state material must be accessible to all
  • Online and hybrid courses may be audited for accessibility compliance under at least three circumstances:
    1. Office of Civil Rights receives a complaint
    2. Accreditation visits
    3. Accessibility reviews contracted by the State Chancellor's Office

When do I caption?

What multimedia material do you need to caption for your online course? Do you always have to caption? What if it's raw footage? What if it's from YouTube? What if it's a sample of student work? What if the instructor owns it?

When is captioning/transcripts required?

  • If the material has video and audio and will be archived for repeated use, then you need to have the material captioned. Please note: If the material has both audio and video, you need to caption. A transcript is not sufficient.
  • If the video will also be shown in the classroom, regardless of whether it is instructor-owned or campus-owned, it must be captioned if any enrolled student requires a captioning accommodation.
  • If you take clips from longer works and string them together and archive the finished video, then it must be captioned.
  • Any video created by the campus and placed on a public website.
  • Transcript: If the material is audio only, no video, and is archived, then a transcript is all you need.

When is captioning optional?

  • If the material is only for one term AND the class has restricted access (i.e., it's password protected and only students who are enrolled in the class have access), then you only need to caption (or provide a transcript) if a student requests captioning as an accommodation.
  • If the material is on YouTube or other online video site and you are just providing a link to content that is not required, then you only need to caption if a student requests an accommodation. (Please note: YouTube videos are not public domain. Permission may be required to caption.)
  • If the material is student work or other raw footage that will not be archived for repeated use.
  • There is no need to caption longer works if you are just pulling clips from it. Wait and caption the montage that you create.
  • If the video already has foreign language subtitles, do not caption unless requested to do so as an accommodation.

As a simple rule of thumb:

If you're keeping it and more than a limited audience might access it, then caption or transcribe it.

Be prepared to

Respond to student requests for captioning/transcribing within 24 hours and complete the captioning/transcribing process in a timely manner. The captioning/transcribing has to be done in time for the student to have the material whenever the rest of the students are expected to know it.

How do I caption?

Caption your own videos on YouTube

YouTube makes it really easy to caption your videos.

Caption videos you don't own

First, make sure that you will not be violating the copyright by using it.

If the video does not have captions, attempt to obtain a captioned version or permission to caption from the copyright holder of the video. If a publisher fails to respond within 10 days, California state law provides the right to assume permission and proceed with captioning. Here is a template for the letter to send to the owner of the video:

Create captions that overlay the video

Use third party software to overlay captions on the video. You can create the captions yourself or use a service to create them for you. You can find more information under the 'Get Help with Captioning' tab.
Supports subtitling videos found on YouTube, Vimeo, and other popular video hosting services. These subtitles will qualify as captioning.
Amara tutorial (pdf) - Step-by-step to add captions that overlay your video

Learn more about captioning

Captioning Services

Request Captioning through the DRC

The Distance Education Captioning and Transcription (DECT) grant, administered by College of the Canyons, supports professional captioning and transcription services for multimedia materials used in California community colleges. To apply for these services:

Contact Bidya Subedi (Disability Resource Center's Accommodations Coordinator) at Provide her with the following information:

  • Instructor's first and last name
  • Instructor's email address
  • Title of the course that will use the video
  • The quarter/year that the course will be offered
  • Maximum class size for that course
  • Title of the video
  • Number of minutes of the video
  • Links or location of where the video can be accessed

Request captioning of your own videos using 3C Media Solutions

If you do not wish to host your videos on YouTube, you can host them at 3C Media where you can request to have them captioned using the services at 3C Media.

Request live captioning of your CCC Confer conference

If you would like to have live captioning of your conference, you can use CCC Confer where they will provide a captioning moderator upon request. To use this service, make sure to check the box to request Closed Captions when filling out the meeting request form.

Find captioned videos

Films on Demand

You can find more than 3,000 high quality educational videos and 33,000 segments via streaming over the web at Films on Demand. Search the database of Films on Demand.

Films on Demand is integrated into the Rich Content Editor (RCE) in Canvas. With the click of a few buttons, you can embed a captioned video into your Canvas course.


Many YouTube videos are auto-captioned which are not very accurate. Make sure to verify their accuracy before deciding to use it.

More Captioned Video Sources

Last Updated October 13, 2017
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