Compliance - Accessibility (ADA) - Video Captioning - Divisional Policy
Videos used in Division of Extension need to meet ADA compliance for captioning and accommodation. The Division of Extension requires that all external, public facing pre-recorded video content meet or exceed ADA requirements for captioning.
Captioning and Extension
Pre-recorded videos (any non-live video) used by Extension are subject to ADA compliance regulations. At the most basic level, we are legally required to caption any public facing video content which contains information which is not already available in an accessible text-based format elsewhere, and is clearly labeled as such.
Beyond our legal requirements, we recognize that only time-synced, verbatim captions are capable of providing full and equitable access to video content for those who would benefit from such an accommodation. Captions are meant to be non audio, text based representation of the audio content provided as part of a video. For this reason, the Division of Extension requires that all external, public facing pre-recorded video content meet or exceed ADA requirements for captioning.
For video content designed solely for internal consumption (training, updates, professional development, announcements), Extension recognizes that while having all video content captioned is our goal, it may not always be possible or feasible due to economic or time constraints. For these internal videos, a determination on how to caption should be made based on ‘severity of need’ and the following guidelines:
- Video Audience
- Time sensitivity
- Video shelf life
- Availability of identical information via text-based alternative
Automatically generated captions are not acceptable at this time as they do not meet quality standards.
The goal for captions and transcripts is 99% or greater accuracy. Captions must be:
- Error-less captions are the goal for each production.
- Uniformity in style and presentation of all captioning features is crucial for viewer and listener understanding.
- Complete textual representation of the audio, including speaker identification and non-speech information, provides clarity.
- For captions only, it is important that they are displayed with enough time to be read completely, are in synchronization with the audio, and are not obscured by (nor do they obscure) the visual content.
- Equal access requires that the meaning and intention of the material is completely preserved.
When captioning, you have two primary options, using one of our contracted vendors, or taking a DIY approach.
Professional Captioning Services
Captioning is billed at a per-minute rate. While these rates may seem daunting at first, it is important to recognize that the process of creating and reviewing captions is labor intensive. For many projects, having video content professionally captioned is a more effective use of Extension resources than devoting hours of staff time to the DIY process.
Vendors should provide captions containing embedded timestamps in the .srt file format. This format can be used with a variety of accessible media players including cloud based ones such as YouTube, FaceBook, Kaltura and others.
At this time, content creators are responsible for any costs associated with captioning their videos. Please work with your program or institute to secure funding.
DIY Captioning Options
For shorter videos as well as where funding is not available, DIY captions are an acceptable alternative. Please note that many of these options start with creating a transcription of the audio portion of your video. Many video hosts, such as YouTube, have built in tools for converting your transcripts into captions with timings. You will need to be mindful of identifying speakers and audio-only cues as part of the DIY process. The following is a list of some of the options you have for DIY captions.
- Classic transcription - Nothing fancy, this is the basic typing into a document a text based equivalent of the audio portion of your video.
- Using Speech to Text / voice typing tools to create a transcription - A rough transcript can be created using consumer grade speech to text software. Google Docs is one example of how this can be used: Using Google Docs and your computer speaker to create a transcription file.
- Use Otter.ai service to generate draft captions. These captions are much more accurate than those provided by YouTube, with 95% accuracy being common. These do need to be edited and reviewed before being published in order to reach our goal of 99% accuracy for captions and transcripts. Otter.ai generated captions can be requested from ETS for videos which are intended to be shared on the main divisional YouTube channel. Please note that turn around for this is on average 2 weeks, and ETS does not provide caption editing services. (For those programs with a high demand for this service, ETS can assist you in working with purchasing to acquire a license for the use of Otter.ai services. Current pricing for these services is $50 annually per user). If you are interested in using Otter.ai services please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note on Otter.ai - At this time, we highly recommend the use of Otter.ai as part of your captioning process. If you have questions specific to how Otter.ai works and why we recommend it, please direct them to Tony Roman at email@example.com.
Additional Resources on Captions
Center for Digital Accessibility and User Experience
Please note that the majority of UW - Madison instructional video content is not public, but is instead intended for use by students in support of specific courses. As a result of not being intended for public consumption, they have a different, student need focused, standard as opposed to the Federal compliance guidelines Division of Extension is obligated to follow.
Infographic on the importance of captions:
National Institute of Health on Captions:
Web Standards on Captions: