Make it Accessible – Captions, Subtitles and Transcripts.

Example of captions displayed on a video.

Adding captions and providing transcripts for video and audio content is important for a number of reasons:

  • A moral imperative to not exclude users from content.
  • Aston’s charter to provide an education for all and not to disadvantage any student or member of staff.
  • Accessibility for users that are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Accessibility to those with poor internet connections.
  • Providing multimodal access to content to have a positive effect on comprehension.
    After surveying our students, nearly 50% are downloading our transcripts 
    and using those as study aids.” Patrick Wirth, University of Wisconsin – Extension survey research
  • Ability to view in sound-sensitive environments.
  • Adhering to legislative responsibilities.

There are a number of ways in which text versions of audio are commonly provided.


A caption is text that appears on screen, with the video and is timed to match the pace of the audio. At a minimum, captions should contain all of the spoken words as text but best practice would dictate that the caption information be a representation of all the audio in the video where it is important to the meaning.

For instance “phone rings” or “fire alarm sounds“.

Generally, captions come in two varieties, open and closed. Open captions will normally be embedded in the video itself and can’t be switched off. Closed captions will normally be embedded in the video player and will have an on and off button. Closed captions are normally what we would expect you to provide for the videos that you make for students.


Subtitles will contain the same information as captions but translated to another language. For the purposes of accessibility, translations are not normally required, however, if you want to be truly inclusive, particularly within certain contexts then this really would be a belt and braces approach.


Again this would contain the same information as captions, but instead, the text is provided in a separate document. This will often be in the form of a PDF or Word document. The quickest way to generate a transcript is normally from a script. However, the reality is that most of the videos you will create will not be word-for-word scripted and if you are going to use automatic captioning from an online service like YouTube, you may as well repurpose it for your transcript.

Creating Captions & Transcripts

One of the quickest ways to produce captions is using an auto-caption feature of a platform like Youtube. If you have created a video yourself you could upload it to Youtube and normally within 24 hours the system will auto-generate your captions.

If you would rather the video wasn’t available on Youtube you can make it “unlisted”, which means it won’t appear in any searches but will allow you to embed or link to the video from Blackboard. I use this method a lot, as for me personally, it gives a high level of accuracy. Mileage may vary though depending upon your voice/accent. If you need to edit the captions please see the start of the video below.

The fastest way to create a transcript is normally from a script. However, if you have created a video without the use of a script, you can use the captions that we generated using Youtube.

This involves you downloading the caption file and pasting the contents into a tool that strips unwanted timing information. The text it gives you back can now be pasted into a document and made available in Blackboard with the video. Please see the video below for a tutorial on how to do this.

Subtitles/Closed captions are available in the video player.

Download transcript

Useful links mentioned in the video.

My Video Manager

Extract the text from the captions file


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