How to Make Video Accessible

Did you know?

Captions help more students than just special populations, says research from Oregon State University, showing that 98.6% of all surveyed students found captions helpful, with 75% using them as a learning tool.

Captioning your own videos

One of the simplest paths to publishing captioned video is to use YouTube.  When you upload a video, YouTube will attempt to automatically create a caption for your video. If the audio in your video is of high quality – well recorded and articulated – then there is a good chance the YouTube "automatic captions" will generate a useful "rough draft" of the spoken audio in your video. The steps below walk through the procedure of correcting YouTube's automatic captions.

Note: Automatic captions may not be ready at the time that you upload a video. Processing time depends on the length of the video and the complexity of its audio.  You should always review automatic captions and edit any parts that haven't been properly transcribed.

Correcting YouTube's Automatic Captions

  1. Go to your Video Manager by clicking your account in the top right > Creator Studio > Video Manager > Videos.
  2. Next to the video you want to add captions or subtitles to, click the drop-down menu next to the Edit button.
  3. Select Subtitles and CC.
  4. If automatic captions are available, you'll see "English (Automatic)" in the "Published" section to the right of the video.  Click on that track.
  5. Click on the Edit button in the upper right area of the page.
  6. To edit the content of the captions, select the caption you'd like to edit to the left of the video and start typing.
  7. You can adjust the start and end times of each caption in the timeline below the video.  Click and drag on the edges of the white boxes. The audio signal is shown in grey behind the white text boxes to help find where the audio begins and ends.
  8. When finished, click Save changes.
  9. A dialog box will pop up.  Click Publish.
  10. To unpublish the incorrect automatic captions, click on "English (Automatic)" track in the "Published" section. Then click the Unpublish button in the upper right area of the page.

Troubleshoot automatic captions issues

If your video doesn't generate automatic captions, it could be due to one or more of the following reasons:

  • The captions aren't available yet due to processing complex audio in the video.
  • The language in the video is not yet supported by automatic captions.
  • The video is too long.
  • The video has poor sound quality or contains speech that YouTube doesn't recognize.
  • There is a long period of silence at the beginning of the video.
  • There are multiple speakers whose speech overlaps.

For more information on YouTube’s automatic captioning, please visit YouTube Help.

Linking to a video on another website

Because you are responsible to make sure all the videos in your course are accessible, we recommend that you search for captioned media first. The LSC Library has a wide selection of captioned media. Check with your Subject Area Librarian.


Almost all YouTube videos have a CC button, but be warned, they could be auto-generated captions that are sometimes quite awful.  To search for videos captioned by a human and not auto-generated, follow this easy search technique.

  1. Enter your search term (for this example, let's say I'm searching for videos on volcanoes) in the YouTube search field.
  2. Add a: , CC (that's a comma, CC)
  3. Hit Enter or click the magnifying glass icon.Shows YouTube search box with volcanoes,cc as an example.

To determine if a YouTube video has auto-generated captions or captions done by a human (much preferred):

  1. Click on the Settings button in the bottom right corner of the video player.Identifies the Settings icon.
  2. Choose Subtitles/CC.
  3. Make sure there is an English option, and not just an English (auto-generated) option. Shows English selection.


  1. Fill out the Advanced Video Search fields ( that
    you need.
  2. Choose the "Subtitles: Closed captioned only" option.
  3. Press Enter or click the Advanced Video Search button.

Recording Tip

Whenever you record audio or video, we recommend thinking of it as a radio broadcast where only your words and inflection come through. Materials that are solely visual, should be described verbally to be accessible to someone who is blind. If PowerPoint or other files are shown in a video, make the actual ppt or pptx files (source files) available to students for review.

Ensure media player is keyboard accessible

We know that YouTube, Vimeo, and the Distance Education streaming media players are keyboard accessible players. The other advantages to these players are that they optimize the video streaming to the user's best settings. If you are using a different video player, please test it to make sure it can be used by those who cannot use a mouse.

Keyboard accessibility

  1. Whatever the operation or behavior, make sure a mouse is not required.
  2. Use the following keyboard keys to navigate and interact with the web page and all of its content:
    • Tab
    • Arrow keys
    • Enter
    • Spacebar

PowerPoints with audio narration

It is best if you use Camtasia to record audio narration of a PowerPoint (ease of captioning, will play on multiple platforms, doesn't require proprietary software to play), but if you are determined to create a PowerPoint with audio narration, visit this Microsoft support page. Make sure you confirm that all of your students have the software required to play the PowerPoint with the narration and subtitles.

Audio Descriptions

Need to describe the visual information of the screen for students who are blind?

Linking to an audio recording on another website?

Please check to see if a transcript exists and make sure your students know how to find it (if it's available).