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Videos (& Captioning): Captioning Videos

Finding, borrowing, and captioning videos for instructional use.

Common Issues About Captioning

free vector Closed caption 0Instructional media used in our district is required by law to be captioned. This guide has some answers to common issues about captioning:

I have an UNCAPTIONED commercial video!

Here are some tips to deal with uncaptioned commercial videos (DVD) that you want to use for instruction:

1. Get Permission to Caption

Adding captions to an existing commercial video requires getting permission beforehand from the copyright holder-- for some videos it may take some legwork to figure out who really owns the copyright. The owner might not be the same as the distributor of the video. Once you've figured out who has the right to give you permission to caption, it might just be a matter of sending an email or letter to secure written permission.  Here are some tips:

 When you contact the copyright holder, ask them for permission in writing to do the following:

If your goal is to stream the (captioned) video via Blackboard, you would ask to change the DVD to streaming video that will be accessed via Blackboard. That entails:

  • Changing the format of the video from DVD to streaming video
  • Captioning the streaming video
  • Posting the captioned streaming video's link on Blackboard (this would be password-protected and available only to class members).

Note: If the video is already in streaming format, you would ask to add a caption file to the stream and post a link on Blackboard.

If your goal is to use a (captioned) DVD for your classes, you would ask to add captions to the DVD. That entails:

  • Extracting the video from the DVD to insert the captions
  • Recreating the DVD with captions.

2. Get Captions

Once you have permissions in hand, it's a matter of creating a transcript and/or adding captions to the video. You can do this a number of ways:

  • Caption it yourself (with free software)
    • YouTube, Amara or Camtasia Relay (see the SDCCD Online Learning Pathways Get Real web page)  Note that SDCCD Online is willing to help with any training and equipment you might need to do this.
    • 3CMedia Solutions or Dotsub (see the Cuyamaca College Library libguide)
  • Pay for it (somehow) to be sent to a captioning vendor. Our District has used Teleperformance RapidText (formerly Aegis RapidText) and Automatic Synch Technology.

Note: The DECT grant does not cover newly-purchased commercial videos, because by law they were supposed to have been captioned prior to purchase. More information is on the DECT web site.

I have an UNCAPTIONED video that I made

You've made your own video for a class -- Bravo! Here are some options for captioning it:

  • Caption it yourself (with free software)
    • YouTube, Amara or Camtasia Relay  (see the SDCCD Online Learning Pathways Get Real web page).  Note that SDCCD Online is willing to help with any training and equipment you might need to do this.
    • 3CMedia Solutions or Dotsub (see the Cuyamaca College Library libguide)
  • Apply for DECT grant funding
    • The DECT grant may be able to assist you in paying to get your videos captioned. Check to see if your videos are eligible. Be aware that there are restrictions to the grant, and there is paperwork and time involved for turnaround. 
  • Pay for a captioning vendor. Our District has used Teleperformance RapidText (formerly Aegis RapidText) and Automatic Synch Technology.

[The SDCC Library would happily accept a captioned copy of your video.]

About the DECT grant

The DECT (Distance Education Captioning & Transcription) grant is administered by the College of the Canyons as its fiscal agent. The grant is intended to caption media for distance-education related use; this usually means instructor-produced videos that are tied to a specific course. The grant requires an applicant (instructor) to submit application paperwork for the funding to get items captioned, to send the videos to an approved vendor, and then to complete a follow-up report at the end of the course using the captioned videos. See the forms and instructions here.

The DECT grant pays for the captioning projects that are sent to a captioning vendor for processing.  The College of the Canyons, fiscal agent for the grant, does not do the actual captioning. After approval of the project by the fiscal agent, the videos are sent by the instructor directly to an approved captioning  vendor. 

If you need help with the DECT paperwork, please contact Chris Rodgers at SDCCD Online or Kathy Furlan at Teleperformance RapidText.

DECT has eligibility requirements for its grant process.  Here are some excerpts from their web site’s FAQ page (emphasis added):

 The following is a list of qualifying projects:

    • Online classes
    • Hybrid classes (some instructional hours offered at a distance)
    • On-campus classes utilizing distance methods of content delivery as they evolve (e.g., class capture, web conferencing, vodcasting, podcasting, content posted within a Learning Management System)
    • Digital learning object repositories used to collect and make available digitized content: this content could be used by on-campus, hybrid, online, and other delivery methods
    • California Community Colleges offering distance education classes, for either live or asynchronous captioning and transcription.

As a reminder, the following types of video do not qualify for funding:

    • Newly purchased videos - since federal and state regulations require that colleges only purchase accessible instructional materials, DECT funding should not be needed for this purpose.
    • Legacy videos in a college collection - the CCCCO provided funding to caption existing collections of videos over a decade ago, so current DECT funds cannot be used for this purpose.


Legal Stuff: Captioning

"I don't have any deaf students in my class,  so why must I use captioned videos?"  Instructional media used in our district is required to be captioned. It's not just a good idea, it's the law. And here is some more legal stuff:

Always Check for Captions!

DVD: Remember to check for captions when previewing a video for instructional use. Although the Library's media collection is required to have only captioned materials, sometimes non-compliant items slip through. 

Streaming Video: Be aware that YouTube videos use automatic captioning that may not accurately convey the meaning of the audio. Try previewing those videos with the sound off and see if they make any sense before assigning them to your students. 

Captioning Restrictions For the Library

Videos in the library media collection are required to be captioned.

New additions to the collection must be captioned prior to their being added, whether by purchase, donation to the library, transfer to the library from another department, or other means.

Due to staffing limitations, SDCC librarians do not handle any aspect of uncaptioned videos, including obtaining copyright permissions, sending out items for captioning, or managing DECT grant paperwork. 

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