Captioned Media Suggestions for Accessible Classrooms


Captions display spoken words on the screen, identify the speaker, and include background sounds.  Captions are specifically designed to allow people who are deaf or hard of hearing to follow the audio content of a video.  However, captions are also beneficial to almost all viewers, improve learning outcomes for many students, and are an integral part of Universal Design in instruction. 

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) signed into law in 1990 protects disabled persons from discrimination including barriers to communication. The use of captioned media breaks down these barriers and equalizes communication access. 

Who Benefits?


*  Persons who are Deaf or hard of hearing must have captioned media in order to access the auditory and visual media from one location.

*  Persons with learning disabilities, AD/HD, or other cognitive impairments also benefit from the open captions supplementing the audio.

*  Persons for whom English is their second language benefit from the captions.

*  Persons globally who see the college’s media productions will benefit from the captions.

*  Persons without disabilities have stated that captioning helps in taking notes and improves understanding and recall.

*  Anyone in the audience benefits when variations of sound quality or surrounding noise creates distractions.


What about the distraction complaint?


While showing captioned media when only a few persons in the viewing audience require it, a common concern is that the open captions may be a distraction to the rest of the audience or the open captions interfere with the visual aspect of the media.  In reality most viewers adapt very easily to the captions and find that they use the captions to supplement the audio when they miss some dialogue due to poor sound quality, acoustics or due to environmental noises.


What can the college do?


All videos or media that are purchased or developed by the college or by a department should be open or closed-captioned. The open-captioned format is recommended and preferred.  The captions on open-captioned media are always displayed and no special equipment or setting is needed. Closed-captioned media requires special equipment or menu setting to display the captions. 


Captioned Media Guidelines


Georgia Perimeter College has a policy for captioning videos and multi-media used, created or purchased by the college.  The USG Board of Regents also has made information available to all its institutions about providing accessible media for all individuals with disabilities. 


GPC Caption Policy

USG: Higher Education, the ADA and Section 508


Captioned Media Standards


Standards for accessible captions are available from the Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP) which is funded by the U.S. Department of Education and administered by the National Association of the Deaf.  As stated on their website, their mission is “to promote and provide equal access to communication and learning through described and captioned educational media.”  The DCMP standard for quality captioning is contained in a guide titled the “Captioning Key.”   The standards are based on decades of research that analyze how to make the text accurate and accessible to viewers depending on the text for complete information.


DCMP Captioning Key

DCMP: How to get media captioned


Determining if existing media is captioned: 


1.     DVD's typically have a caption or subtitle option. It will normally be displayed on the DVD cover with one of the symbols shown below. Please select that option when showing the DVD in class.



2.     Most recent commercially produced videos are captioned.

§  In classrooms that are electronically equipped, you must use the menu for the media equipment to enable closed captions or subtitles to be seen.  Please try this out on this equipment prior to showing it in class to ensure the proper working of the equipment and that you understand how to display the captions.

§  In classrooms without a permanently mounted projection, a caption-decoder in addition to the VCR must be used to display the captions. Please contact Instructional Media services.

§  In the auditoriums with AV Technicians, the technician can turn on the captions from the equipment in their booth.

3.     Clips from the internet, including You Tube are often not captioned.  The “cc” on You Tube that enables “automatic captions” is not acceptable.  The captions are produced with voice-to-text software and the results are very inaccurate, and unacceptable for access. 

4.     Video clips taped from television programs will be closed-captioned if the program was produced with captions originally. To display these captions, refer to #2 above.

5.     Older film and videos may not be closed-captioned. Please look on the original package for the CC symbol to determine if it is captioned or not.  


Steps to take if the media is not captioned:


®       Ask for OPEN-CAPTIONS as often as possible; it allows the media to be shown without special captioning decoder equipment.

®       Check with Galileo to see if the media is available in a captioned or subtitled version.

®       Check with the publisher of your text and online resources to see if their media is available with captions or subtitles.

®       Ask the library/media center for assistance in locating copies of the film or video with captions or subtitles.

®       Check with the Captioned Media Program, a free-loan open-captioned media program, to see if the exact title or a video of similar content is available to borrow. The CMP provides over 4,000 open-captioned titles of videos, CD-Rom's, and DVD's and several hundred titles are streamed on the CMP Web site. There are no rental, registration, or postage fees.

®       Ask the Disability Services office for assistance in obtaining accessible media, or making it accessible for students.


Disability Services

Karen Green, Coordinator for Deaf/Hard of Hearing Services

Clarkston Campus, CB 1300
Office Hours Mon-Thurs 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM, Friday 8:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Phone (678) 891-3385      E-mail: