My personal learning journey video

YouTube captioning

I’ve been researching YouTube’s captioning abilities as part of research I’m doing into Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)  compliance for the organisation for which I work.

Under the WCAG 2.0 standards set out by the W3C (an international consortium looking to set out standards for accessibility for web sites and content), there are four principles of accessibility. Anyone who wants to use the web must have content that is:

  1. Perceivable. It cannot be invisible to all their senses.
  2. Operable. It cannot require interaction that a user cannot perform.
  3. Understandable. Information and operation must be understandable.
  4. Robust. Content must be able to be interpreted by a wide range of technologies and user agents.

Under each of these principles are guidelines that help to address issues for people with cognitive and physical disabilities. Under the guidelines are success criteria that describe in detail what must be done to meet the guidelines that support the principle.

Under the category of perception is the success criteria pertaining to pre-recorded audio and video. 1.2.2 Captions (Prerecorded): Captions are provided for all prerecorded audio content in synchronized media, except when the media is a media alternative for text and is clearly labelled as such. This is base level compliance with WCAG 2.0 guidelines.

To understand how YouTube’s captioning might help us, I did an experiment.

I chose an old video of mine and asked YouTube to attempt a machine capture. It did.

Then I watched the video with captions. They were waaaay off.

But I was able to download the caption file, edit it and upload it again.

It was in .sbv format, but I was able to open, edit it and save it using Notepad ++.

Here is a sample of the YouTube generated captioning:


they call a woman who has spent gifted

and creative design

and it’s someone who is overly generous
with her time in their knowledge

scholar landlady or george okay

on the joan k or join an italian realign


horrendously islands of g_a_t_t_ a
in second life and uh… has been an

educational designer and programmer

and all over again corral uh… for andone half mile and stan

when i interviewed her for a podcastaround and


consented to be in view about september
but she said i had to come in and i had

to experience it for myself

so i couldn’t karen on cocktail is asecond life

And here is the video with the corrected captioning. To view the captions, click play and then, click on CC on the video control bar. Notice that the title of the caption file appears at the start of the video.

Note to self: Sony Vegas 10 can do captioning via a text file transcript broken into caption sized chunks and using markers. Watch this video:

Adobe Captivate advises users to create captions manually:

(Excerpt from Adobe Captivate Help)

??For users with hearing impairment, add text equivalents for audio elements. For example, when delivering narrative audio, it is important to provide captions at the same time. One option is to place a transparent caption in a fixed location on slides, then synchronize the text with the audio using the Timeline…

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