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Make Your Videos Accessible

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Accessibility is the practice of making learning content available to all learners. When we use audio and video content, we need to consider learners who may be blind, deaf, hard of hearing, English may not be their primary language, or other situations where accommodations are necessary to process media-based information.

Table of Contents

Core Elements of Accessible Video Media

Captions: Captions, whether open or closed, translate the audio of a recording into words, most commonly writing out the dialog of a movie, lecture, or other form of media.

  • Closed Captions: Text-based captions that can be enabled or disabled by the user of the media. Closed captions often translate the dialog of a video into words so that a deaf or hard-of-hearing individual can understand the audio of a recording.
  • Open Captions: Text-based captions that have been permanently recorded with or on top of the video. In film, this is often done with movies where the audio is in the original language and the permanent subtitles are in another language (such as a French film with English subtitles). With open captions, the words have been "burned" or "baked in" directly with the picture of the video so that they are always present, cannot be disabled, cannot be resized or moved, and cannot be changed to another language.

Transcripts: A transcript is a separate document, sidebar, or information panel that translates the audio and video of a recording into words. Each speaker is clearly indicated and other critical information, such as actions, sounds, and settings, are included. 

Audio Descriptions: Audio descriptions offer the additional context or details of a video or audio recording that is not dialog. This often includes actions, sound effects, and other details that aid in comprehension. Combined with captions, they provide the full story of the video, especially for those who are not able to see the media.

Accessible Media Player: The player should be fully keyboard and screen reader accessible to easily allow a person to interact with the media to accomplish common actions like play, stop, increase volume, mute, enable/disable captions, etc.

Fact: Auto-generated Captions Are Not Enough

Many tools, like Zoom, Panopto, YouTube, and others, offer auto-generated captions, which are very convenient and can help fill a gap when a live captioner is not available. However, automatic captions are not 100% accurate. While the systems that power automated captions have access to large dictionaries of words and languages, they often can't interpret acronyms, and experience problems with different accents, struggle when a speaker's volume or tone varies, and often don't understand highly specialized terms (e.g., scientific terms, class or school-specific abbreviations, and mathematical formulas). The auto-captions will make best-guesses and these can often lead to undesirable outcomes. For these reasons, always review and edit any auto-generated captions used in class-related or public-facing media content.

Also, live captioners are not 100% accurate either. Therefore, if you will be using a live captioner for a class or event, please prepare the captioner as much in advance as possible with an outline of your prepared lecture or speech, a glossary of common terms, a list of abbreviations/acronyms, or a summary of any specialty phrasing that may be known to a subject matter expert. If your class requires accommodation for one or more students, be sure to consult with the Office of Student Accessibility for captioning options.

Live Meetings: Closed Captions

Zoom: Verify Your Meeting Settings

Zoom offers both automated and live captioning settings. Automated captions can be enabled by anyone. Live captioning requires the professor to work with the Office of Student Accessibility in advance or to prepare and appoint a participant in the meeting to type the live captions.

  1. Visit NOTE: If you teach in the 2PEP platform, please use the 2PEP platform, please use the dedicated 2PEP Zoom service only for 2PEP classes. Consult with the appropriate 2PEP Support group.
  2. Select Sign In.
  3. On the Pepperdine CAS service, enter your Pepperdine NetworkID and password and follow the on-screen prompts.
  4. Once logged into Pepperdine Zoom, select Settings in the left menu.
  5. In the search box at the top, enter "caption" and press Enter/Return.
  6. Review the caption options and enable any desired options that are not on by default.
    • Manual Captions (required if you are working with the Office of Student Accessibility)
    • Automated Captions
    • Save Captions (not enabled by default)
    • Full Transcript
    • Save closed caption as a VTT file (for local or cloud recordings)

You may learn more at the Zoom support article, "Saving closed captions in a meeting."

Zoom: Turn on Meeting Closed Captions as Host

As the host of a live Zoom session, enable closed captioning by selecting the "Show Captions" icon (CC) on the navigation panel.

  1. Select Show Captions (CC).
  2. Choose your meeting caption options.
    • Select your desired Speaking Language for captions (English is pre-selected as the default language).
    • Select View Transcript (optional) to see the live transcript in a side panel.
    • Select Caption Settings (optional) to set the display size for caption text
  3. Choose caption host controls
    • Choose Disable captions to prevent participants from viewing automated closed captions.
    • Choose Setup manual captioner to enable/assign a live captioner within the meeting.

Zoom: Turn on Meeting Closed Captions as Viewer

As the viewer of a live Zoom session, enable closed captioning by selecting the "Show Captions" icon (CC) on the navigation panel, if allowed by the host. 

  1. Select Show Captions (CC).
  2. Select Caption Settings.
  3. Select Always show captions to allow captions to appear every time a Zoom session begins.
  4. Select Dim Screen Share Video to automatically dim video when flashing images or visual patterns (such as stripes) are detected.

To learn more, hosts may reference all of Zoom's documentation on "Languages and Accessibility (Zoom)."

Also, attendees can learn more from the support article, "Viewing captions in a meeting or webinar (Zoom)."      

Recordings: Editing Captions

Zoom: Edit the Audio Transcript

After a meeting has ended the recording has been processed, a meeting host can review and edit the audio transcript. Zoom uses the audio transcript when a viewer selects "CC" for closed captions/subtitles.

  1. Sign in to the Pepperdine Zoom web portal. NOTE: If you teach with the 2PEP platform, you will need to use the separate 2PEP Zoom service. Consult with the appropriate 2PEP Support group.
  2. In the navigation menu, select Recordings.
  3. Choose the name of the recorded meeting.
  4. You will see a list of recording files.
  5. Select the play icon.
  6. The text of the transcript displays on the right-hand side of the video.
  7.  Select the text that you wish to edit and choose the edit (pencil) icon.
  8. If a phrase belongs to an unknown speaker, you can also hover over Unknown Speaker and select the pencil icon to edit the name.
  9. Make any changes to the text, then select the check mark. The updated version of the text is displayed when you (or your class attendees) play the video.

To learn more, visit Zoom's support article, "Audio transcription for cloud recordings (Zoom)."

Zoom: Downloading a Transcript

Audio transcripts are saved in VTT format. If you download the VTT file, you can open it with a text editor or word processing application. You can also view or edit transcripts from the Zoom website.

  1. Log into with your Pepperdine credentials.
  2. Select "Recordings" in the left navigation panel.
  3. Select the title of the recording.
  4. Hover over “Audio transcript” and select the downward arrow to download a VTT file of the transcript.

To learn more, visit the support article, "Audio transcription for cloud recordings (Zoom)."

Panopto: Creating and Editing Auto-Generated Captions

  1.  Sign in to
  2.  Find the backed-up video from Zoom that is already in Panopto.
    • Select "My Folder" in the side navigation.
    • Select the "Meeting Recordings" folder.
    • Locate the desired recording.
    • Select the "Edit" option.
  3. Select Captions in the left navigation of the edit window.
  4. The available captions from the Zoom recording will display.

Read "How to Edit or Delete Captions (Panopto)" for more information.

Panopto: Editing Video Captions

  1. With the Panopto video editor open, select Captions (left side) to review the captions that have been captured from the video.
  2. Select the pencil (edit) icon at the top right corner of the screen. 
  3. The left-side navigation panel will open and reveal the transcripts for the entire video. Start editing specific wording, or scroll down and select blocks of text to edit instead.
  4. Select Apply (top right) when editing is complete to save changes. 
  5. A message will appear at the top of the screen confirming that changes have been applied to the video, confirming if you would like to close the editor.  If all changes are complete, select “OK" and close the left side navigation panel, where editing has occurred.
  6. Captions can now be read at the bottom of the screen.

Panopto: Import Audio Captions edited in Zoom into Panopto

  1. With the Panopto video editor open, select "Captions" from the left-side navigation.
  2. Select “Import Captions” and then "Upload or request captions" from the dropdown options.
  3. In the settings window that appears, choose the file you want to upload by selecting “Choose File” to open your local file viewer. From there, select the VTT file that was edited and downloaded to your computer from the corresponding Zoom recording detailed in the "Zoom: Downloading a Transcript" section above.
  4. Select “Upload Captions” to complete the file upload process. Uploading the edited Zoom VTT transcript directly into Panopto will ensure that the Panopto version of the video uses the edited version of the Zoom transcript detailed in the "Zoom: Edit the Audio Transcript" section above. With the captions in place, you can now edit the video and the caption timing will be maintained throughout.
  5. You can add multiple sets of captions (e.g. language translations) by repeating the above process. Once added, the new caption option will appear under “Available Captions.” Note: If the captions in the transcript you are uploading are based on the session as it is already edited in Panopto, then select “Captions are based on the edited session” (e.g. language translation created from the captions and timestamps of the edited Panopto video).

Add Audio Descriptions for a Video

Audio descriptions can be added to a video to describe the action, closed captioning, and video descriptions happening for the deaf and hard of hearing. Notice in this video compilation created by the National Association of the Deaf called Good, Bad, and Ugly: Closed Captioning and Video Description (YouTube), there are several examples demonstrating how audio, video descriptions and closed captions are modified. 

Panopto: Edit Audio Descriptions for a Video

  1. To edit the Audio Descriptions, select on the pencil at the top right corner of the screen.  
  2. After choosing on the pencil at the top right of the screen, the left-side navigation panel will open. Select “Audio Descriptions.”
  3. Begin typing the verbal depiction of key visual elements at that specific moment of the video. When you are finished typing, select the "Enter" or "Return" key on your keyboard.
  4. When you have finished editing your Audio Descriptions, select “Apply” (top right) to save changes. 
  5. A message will appear at the top of the screen confirming that changes have been applied to the video, asking if you would like to close the editor. If all changes are complete, select “OK" and close the left-side navigation panel, where editing has occurred.
  6. When the video is played back, the video will pause at the moment of the audio description and an AI-generated voice will speak the audio description provided.

Zoom: Audio Descriptions

At this time, Zoom does not offer a separate Audio Descriptions feature, like Panopto. Instead, you will manually type your audio descriptions into the captions using the Edit Transcript feature in Zoom. When adding audio descriptions, use square brackets ("[ ]") to distinguish sound effects and audio cues from spoken words.

Examples: [wind rushes] or [sips water]

See the "Zoom: Edit the Audio Transcript" section in "Recordings: Editing Captions" above.

Zoom and Panopto: Viewer Access to Captions in Recorded Videos

Adding captions to a recorded video allows content to be viewable to as many people as possible.  After captions have been enabled within a recorded video, a viewer can access them when watching videos on Zoom or Panopto. Check out the links below to learn more.

Zoom: Viewing captions in a meeting or webinar (Zoom)

Panopto: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Video Captioning (Panopto)

To download a copy of the captions from the recorded Zoom video:

  1. Log into your Pepperdine Zoom account
  2. Select “Recordings” from the left navigation menu
  3. Choose a recording from a list
  4. Hover over “Closed Caption” and select the downward arrow to download a VTT file of the captions from the recorded Zoom video


Transcripts are a text version of speech and non-speech audio information that helps with understanding content. Transcripts can be obtained by:

  • Downloading them from a live meeting
  • Downloading them from a recording
  • Creating them from a Google Doc

Zoom: Downloading Transcripts from a Live Meeting

While in a live Zoom session, a participant can:

  1. Click “CC” to begin the closed captions. 
  2. Participants can view Subtitles (or closed captions) at the bottom of the screen.
  3. A transcript is viewable in the right side panel.
  4. Before a Zoom session ends, click “Save Transcript” to download and save the transcript from that meeting. The transcript is a text file (.txt) and can be opened in any text editor, like NotePad on PC or TextEdit on Mac. 
  5. The text file will reveal the name of the speaker and provide time-stamped dialogue. 

Zoom: Downloading Transcripts from A Zoom Recording

  1. Log into Pepperdine Zoom account. 
  2. Select "Recordings" from the left side menu.
  3. Select the recording title to open it.
  4. Select the "Audio transcript" to download the VTT file of the transcript from the recording (if configured in the user's Zoom Settings with the Recording options).

Once all edits have been completed, you can choose to:

  1. Select the "Audio transcript" link to download the VTT file that can be opened in basic text editor programs like Notepad (Windows) or TextEdit (Mac) as a shareable text document directly from Zoom.
  2. That same VTT transcript can be uploaded directly into Panopto to ensure that the Panopto version of the video uses the edited version of the Zoom transcript, which will now be backed up for wide-scale use by the campus-community for the next five years.

Panopto: Downloading Captions from a Recording

  1. In the video library, hover over and select "Settings" on the video you wish to download.
  2. In the left-hand navigation, select "Captions" and under "Available Captions," select the drop-down arrow next to your preferred language for captions. This will expand information about the captions you've selected, including an option to "Download file" or "Download unedited" caption file.
    • "Download file": Will download captions as a text file for the edited session. Captions for sections of the video that have been trimmed out will not be included.
    • "Download unedited caption file": Will download captions as a text file for the complete video, including sections that have been trimmed out. Note: For this option to be available, there can only be one primary stream.
  3. When downloading captions, the caption file format may vary based on your browser. The most common are as follows. Note: In order for your computer to open the file in the correct application, you may need to update the file extension. 
    • Safari (Mac):  .txt file.
    • Edge (Windows): .txt file.
    • Firefox (Mac or Windows): .ashx file.
    • Chrome (Mac or Windows): .txt file.      

To learn more, please refer to Panopto's support page, "How to Download Captions (Panopto)."

Google Docs: Creating a Stand-Alone Transcript Using Voice Typing

When opening a Google Doc, we can enable audio transcription by following these steps:

  1. Select the "Tools" menu.
  2. Select "Voice Typing."
  3. Click the "microphone icon" to begin recording voice audio.

The microphone is now considered “hot” (meaning it is "live" and ready to take transcription when you begin speaking). The microphone has changed color to red to symbolize this, with the cursor on the page ready to begin transcribing what you say.

As you speak, the microphone will transcribe audio text onto the Google Doc. You can download the document as a Word file (.docx), PDF, or plain text file (.txt).

Refer to Google's support page, "Type with your voice (Google)."

Additional Resources


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