Captioning Videos for Learning


As a student with a significant hearing impairment, I have noticed that closed captions are very seldom used in my Master’s program. 20% of Americans are hard of hearing. 60% of the hearing impaired are currently in a job or educational setting. Just as the non-sighted depend on alt tags and descriptions, the hearing impaired depend on captions. People with disabilities are often overlooked, when a teacher is developing learning materials. It’s easy to get caught up with the lesson plan, and neglect to take the time to make materials accessible. There has been a big push in the last several years to support people with disabilities. Captioning not only helps the deaf and hard of hearing, it also helps English language learners (ELLs), and is valuable to anyone in a loud environment, or when they need to be quiet.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) set accessibility requirements for private and public entities, to provide closed captioning or video transcripts when producing video content. Education (e.g, universities) is one of the many places required to provide captioning. For more information on how the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act apply to closed captioning, please visit: here and: here

Learning Objectives

The goal of this video, was to provide awareness to educators of the need to include captions in their materials. I set the tone by demonstrating what it is like to be hearing impaired, how it affects people in their personal, business, and educational life. I then go on to tell my personal story of how I came to find out about my own disability, and how important captions are in my day-to-day life. I summarize the video with the importance of captions in multiple settings, which programs will let you add captions, and further resources for the hearing impaired.

Learning Activities

The video is free and open to the public on YouTube, and has both captions and alt tags. It can be watched either solo or as a group and is self-paced. The graphics are dominant, and very little text is on each slide (built in PowerPoint). Much attention was given to the choice of clip art. Each graphic is complementary in size, design, and color scheme. If the learner chooses, there are further resources to explore via my Networked Learning Space (NLS) on Facebook: Full Life with Hearing Loss.


I used PowerPoint to create the video. I hadn’t used PowerPoint since the 90s, so it was as if I had never used the program. I started with a template, and then changed the template slides to suit my needs. I used Adobe Illustrator to alter the vector clip art, so that the color scheme would be the same, to remove backgrounds, and export as png. For each slide: I added notes, recorded my narration, added specific timing and transition effect, provided alt tags and description for all images, and set the narration to auto play and be hidden so as not to disturb the visual presentation. I exported the PowerPoint as a MP4 video and uploaded to YouTube. I then fixed the auto captions to be accurate, and provided a description of the video. I tested the video across several computers for accuracy.


As this is a public/free YouTube video, people will watch as they are interested. I hope that the people in my program, and those who are followers of my website and my Facebook NLS will watch. I consider this video more of an inspirational call to action for teachers than anything else. By keeping it short (under 7 minutes) the time investment is small. It is intended to be a motivational tool for teachers on how they can better support the hearing impaired community.


I learned a lot by creating this video. I basically taught myself PowerPoint, adding audio, and best practices for online video. It was my first experience with adding captions to a video. At the beginning I was at a loss for how to even create such a product. I am motivated to go back through all of my previous blog posts (for years they were strictly image-based) and add alt tags and descriptions. I made a video on Captivate last term, on my design plan for Denver Urban Scholars. I’m going to open it back up in YouTube very soon, and add captions. My coworker had me add it to the DOIU YouTube page as she felt it was value added for the channel.

  1. Christina,

    I really appreciated your approach to addressing a “silent” problem that goes unnoticed. Even more important is what some of your insights reveal about teaching itself. Teachers should be constantly thinking about creative ways to introduce material. Captions can be powerful tools for all classrooms, as it is a way of introducing material that differentiates instruction to vastly different learners. Bravo!

    The larger question of accessibility is crucial to understanding how teachers can maximize their effectiveness in all types of environments — face-to-face and on line.



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