Captioning at ARC

Captioning banner ARC captioning solutions

Captioning Solutions

Perhaps the most discussed aspect of accessible video is closed captioning, but information about captioning can be confusing. To ensure you’re using and creating accessible videos, it’s important to understand closed captioning guidelines so you’ll know exactly what you’re being asked to do.

What are closed captions?

First, it’s important to clarify the language! Closed captions are added to a video to ensure all auditory material, including music and sounds, are perceivable to someone who is hearing impaired. Closed captions can be turned off and on using the “cc” button on the video player. Open captions, on the other hand, are part of the video, and cannot be turned off and on (these are called “burned in”). Either will satisfy the Section 508 requirement, though closed captions are preferred according to the cognitive theory of multimedia learning modality principle. Though there are also studies that show many learners benefit from captions, with closed captions, students can turn off the captions if that is their preference. Thus, closed captioning addresses all learning modalities.

Who benefits?

While some argue that closed captions are a lot of work to meet the needs of a small group of students, like curb cuts, it turns out that universal design benefits many. In fact, in a recent survey of student use of captions, researchers with 3PlayMedia discovered 75% of students use captions, and over a third of students use captions frequently. If you’re wondering why, here’s a short list of the most common reasons students use closed captions:

  • they have a hearing impairment;
  • they are listening/viewing in a public place;
  • they are listening/viewing at work;
  • captions help with studying.

What are the guidelines?

  1. The captioning must be complete, which means the video must be captioned from start to finish, including noting opening music and background noises, when intentional.
  2. The captions must be 99% accurate. This means, literally, word-for-word, including grammar and punctuation.
  3. The captions should display synchronously with the audio, running neither too fast or too slow, and they should be on-screen an adequate amount of time to allow careful reading.
  4. The caption placement should not obscure other important information. Usually, captions are placed at the bottom of the screen.

For more information, visit the US Laws for Captioning Online Video article by 3PlayMedia.

Let’s look at some great captioning options!

Circle that says YouTube


Every instructor needs a YouTube account! It is not just a social media platform, it is an education platform as well, and using YouTube to upload your own video creations makes captioning much easier. This process can be really painless, only takes a few minutes, and allows you instant results. This is the preferred method for all of your new videos.

There are two ways to caption your own videos:

  1. Edit the auto-generated captions
  2. Upload your transcript which becomes your captions

Here are instructions for both processes.

If you are new to YouTube:

Circle that says 3 c media solutions

3CMedia Solutions

3C Media Solutions is an educational media distribution network and another incredible technology tool brought to you by California Community Colleges. CCC Online/Hybrid Instructors can upload their own instructional video content to 3C Media and request FREE captioning. The captions are usually available within a few days and can be embedded right into Canvas.

Here are instructions for registering, uploading, and captioning at 3CMedia Solutions.

Circle that says DECT grant

DECT Grant through ARC

The Distance Education Captioning and Transcription Grant (DECT) provides California Community Colleges with funding for live and synchronous captioning and transcription as a means of enhancing the access of all students to distance education courses. We will assist you in the process of captioning your own instructional legacy videos (more than 5 minutes long), 3rd party videos with permission from the owner, and old legacy DVD, VHS, or other disk formats.

Contact us by filling out the ARC DECT form and we will take it from there.