Caption Videos

Table of contents


Planning for the accessibility of your course materials should include providing captions for all videos. Captions are on-screen text descriptions that display a video product's dialogue, identify speakers, and describe other relevant sounds that are otherwise inaccessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Captions are synchronized with the video image so that viewers have equivalent access to the content that is originally presented in sound, regardless of whether they receive that content via audio or text. Captions are either open or closed. Open captions always are in view and cannot be turned off, whereas closed captions can be turned on and off by the viewer.

Faculty teaching students requiring captioning as an accommodation due to a disability will receive support from the Accessibility and Disability Service to complete captioning of video course materials.

Although captions are mandated primarily for deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers, it is a best practice to provide captioning for all of your web and course videos. Studies estimate 70% of all students use captioning to help them learn. Captioning videos are also beneficial to multiple audiences in different circumstances:


Captioning your video

There are two general approaches to captioning video:


There are two offices on campus that provide captioning services for a fee:

The University of Maryland does not currently have a contract with third party vendors for captioning, transcripts, live captioning and audio description. Below is a list of third party vendors that provide captioning services. This is not an official endorsement, but we hope this list may be valuable to those who want to caption their videos.



There are several options for do-it-yourself captioning of videos. Most options include two steps:

  1. Create the caption file or purchase a caption file.
  2. Upload the caption file to your video. Once you have a caption file, the final step is to add this file to your video. How you do this, and the types of caption file supported, depends on where your video is hosted.


Captioning software and resources

Listed below is information on some of the more common methods. Most video creation software addresses captioning in some way, so if you are looking for help with a specific tool not listed below, start by searching the help guides of that software for "captions" or "accessibility.


Camtasia is often used to create videos, and it also offers a way to manually add captions.



Panopto environment within ELMS-Canvas allows for live webcasting, capturing lectures, presentations, and related materials through audio and/or video.

Panopto manually upload caption file: If you already have a caption file you may manually upload the caption file in a few simple steps.



Vimeo is a video hosting site similar to YouTube. Steps for adding captions manually can be found at the Vimeo captions and subtitles page, as well as a list of resources and vendors who can caption longer videos for a fee.



The YouTube captioning support page offers a free and easy method of adding captions to your videos if you host them at YouTube.  You may also use the guidelines on how to caption YouTube Videos from the National Center on Disability and Access to Education.

YouTube gives the option to generate automatic captions. Automatically generated captions are often not accurate, but users can review, edit, or unpublish automatic captions.


YouTube video privacy

If you wish to constrain the visibility of your videos, you can identify individual videos as private or unlisted, or place videos in a playlist that you have identified as private or unlisted. See, How to Create YouTube Unlisted or Private Videos and Playlists.


Learn more about the Laws and guidelines for video captioning. See, The University of Maryland Web Accessibility Standards and Closed Captions and Accessibility Law.