Closed Captioning of Media

If you are incorporating multimedia materials into your courses—films, video clips, television episodes—you must keep universal design in mind when preparing these materials for your students. 

These resources are meant to offer support in accessible course design.  If you have questions about how to use these resources, or if you have questions about an accessibility matter outside the scope of what is listed here, feel free to contact  Alisa Major, Associate Director Technology Access.

GW Libraries Media Reserves

When assigning feature length films, it is a good practice to check the GW Library System’s Media Catalog for copies of those films, even if students might be accessing them in other ways.  Allowing multiple means of materials access is a cornerstone principle of universal design. 

GW Libraries offer both in-person reserve arrangements as well as electronic reserves that students can access through Blackboard. 

When placing a film on reserve, always indicate that you require that item to be closed captioned.  You should make this indication in the Comments area on the Media Reserves Request Form.

Closed Captioning on YouTube

If you are incorporating short video clips from YouTube into your courses—either outside of class as homework or in class as part of a lecture or discussion—you should check to ensure that these clips are closed captioned.  Similarly, you should ensure that your students do the same should they be in the position of presenting material to the class. 

After performing a search for a video in YouTube’s search bar, you can click the Filter menu on the search results page.  In that drop-down menu, you can select only videos that contain Subtitles by clicking that item in the Features column. 

Once you have narrowed your search results, and you have selected a video, you should click on the CC icon in the video play bar to turn on captions (if the video in question has not been set to do so automatically).  The video’s captions will then display in the YouTube video viewer.

Adding Closed Captions to Your YouTube Content 

If you have uploaded your own video content to YouTube, you should also ensure that it is closed captioned.  In addition to YouTube’s instructions for adding closed captions, you can consult the National Center on Disability and Access to Education’s guidance for creating YouTube captions.

Audio Description Video Resources

In order to ensure full accessibility to video content, particularly for blind students, you should search for versions that contain full audio descriptions. 

The Audio Description Network, an initiative of the American Council of the Blind, offers an extensive list of video titles that contain audio descriptions.  This list includes titles that are currently in theaters through DVD formats and a variety of video streaming services. 

Of particular interest will likely be the Audio Description Network’s list of Netflix video titles, which is updated twice weekly.

DSS Closed Captioning Assistance

If you are teaching a student who receives captioned media as an approved accommodation, and you are unable to secure captioned copies of your multimedia materials (or you are not able to add captions manually yourself), please submit a DSS Closed Captioning Request for assistance.  As this form instructs, you will also need to send your video(s) to DSS either via Dropbox or directly to the [email protected] email address.

Affiliated Staff

Alisa Major Staff Headshot

Alisa Major

Alisa oversees the various assistive technology accommodations provided to students. She also collaborates with faculty and staff across the university to ensure inclusive curricular and classroom environments.