According to WebAIM, captions are text versions of the spoken word presented within multimedia. Captions allow the content of web audio and video to be accessible to those who do not have access to audio. Though captioning is primarily intended for those who cannot hear the audio, it has also been found to help those that can hear audio content, those who may not be fluent in the language in which the audio is presented, those for whom the language spoken is not their primary language, etc.

Common web accessibility guidelines indicate that captions should be:

  • Synchronized – the text content should appear at approximately the same time that audio would be available
  • Equivalent – content provided in captions should be equivalent to that of the spoken word
  • Accessible – caption content should be readily accessible and available to those who need it

On the web, synchronized, equivalent captions should be provided any time multimedia content (generally meaning both visual and auditory content) is present. This obviously pertains to the use of audio and video played through multimedia players and HTML5 video, but can also pertain to such technologies as Flash or Java when audio content is a part of the multimedia presentation.

Captions can be either closed or open. Closed captions can be turned on or off, whereas open captions are always visible.

We are big fans of InqScribe, one of the easiest tools for creating captions for videos. The InqScribe interface is simple to use with a split pane; the left side plays the video while you use the right side to type the transcript and insert the timestamps. See a sample below.

sample video being played in inqscribe with the transcript and timing on the right

InqScribe split pane interface.

sample closed captioning being played on a video

Sample video with closed captions playing.

Want to learn more about creating eLearning content? Learn more about creating eLearning content in our free course, Principles of Instructional Design: A Roadmap for Creating Engaging eLearning Content.

Caption content provided by WebAim: Copyright © 1999-2016 WebAIM (Web Accessibility in Mind). All rights reserved.


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