In today’s digital age, video content has become a powerful and prevalent communication and entertainment medium. However, not everyone can fully access or enjoy it, especially those with hearing impairments. Fortunately, closed caption videos help ensure that videos are accessible to a broader audience, including the millions of people with disabilities. This blog explores the importance of video closed captions and provides step-by-step instructions for creating your own.

Let’s start with a short history lesson and move on to steps and insights. 

The Origins of Captioning

It took over 40 years from its inception for television to add program closed captioning. So it wasn’t until 1971 that the first National Conference on Television for the Hearing Impaired demonstrated captioning to a live audience. And Boston founded its Caption Center that same year. 

In 1972, at Gallaudet University, ABC and the National Bureau of Standards presented the revolutionary technology necessary to make television accessible with captions. Captions debuted to the public for the first time later that year on Julia Child’s “The French Chef.” By the turn of the century, they became a legal requirement for TV programming.

Now, let’s learn about the widespread need for video captioning. 

Why Video Caption is Essential for Digital Inclusion

Closed captions are a textual representation of the audio content in a video. They include spoken words and essential auditory information like sound effects, music cues, and speaker identification. 

Closed captioning is crucial for several reasons:

  • Accessibility: Closed captions make videos accessible to individuals with hearing impairments, ensuring everyone can enjoy and understand the content regardless of their hearing ability.
  • Multilingual Audience: Closed captions can be translated into multiple languages, making your content accessible to a global audience—this is particularly valuable for content creators who want to reach diverse communities.
  • Improved SEO: Adding closed captions can enhance your video’s SEO by providing text that search engines can index, increasing your content discoverability.
  • Enhanced User Experience: Even for individuals without hearing impairments, closed captions can enhance the viewing experience by providing additional context, aiding comprehension in noisy environments, and accommodating different learning styles.

Ready to get started on your closed captioning? The steps below will point you in the right direction.  

10 Steps to Add Closed Captions to Videos

Step 1:Transcribing Your Video

The first step in creating closed captions is transcribing the spoken video, which can be done manually or through automated transcription services. Here’s how: 

  • Manual Transcription: You can transcribe the video by listening to the audio and typing the spoken words. This method allows for greater accuracy but can be time-consuming.
  • Automated Transcription: Several online transcription services, such as Rev,, and Google’s Speech-to-Text, are available. Upload your video or audio file, and these services will generate a transcript. While convenient, automated transcriptions may contain errors, so reviewing and editing them for accuracy is essential.

Step 2: Formatting the Transcript

Divide your transcript into time-stamped segments, typically a few seconds, to determine when each caption appears on-screen.

Step 3: Speaker Identification

If there are multiple speakers, identify them by name or role in the transcript so viewers know who’s presenting.

Step 4: Caption Length

Keep captions concise and avoid exceeding two lines on the screen simultaneously. Aim for around 35-40 characters per line for optimal readability.

Step 5: Adding Closed Captions to Your Video

Once you have a formatted transcript, you can add closed captions through video editing software or specialized captioning tools. 

Step 6: Styling and Customizing Captions

Closed captions should be readable and visually appealing. You can customize their appearance to match your video’s style and branding. Consider the following aspects:

  • Font and Size: Choose a legible font and an appropriate font size, ideally a 14-18 point sans-serif font.
  • Text Color: Ensure that the text color contrasts nicely with the background. White or yellow text on a dark background and black text on a light background are common choices.
  • Background and Opacity: Use a semi-transparent background behind the text to improve readability. Adjust the opacity to strike the right balance between visibility and minimal distraction.

Step 7: Make an.SRT File

Next, you’ll need to create an .srt file – the most universal file type for adding closed captions to a video. To do this, simply save your typed transcript as a .srt file. Mac users should use TextEdit for this, with Notepad being the best option for Windows users. 

Step 8: Review and Quality Control

Reviewing your closed captions for accuracy and timing is crucial before finalizing them. Here’s what to look out for:

  • Accuracy: Ensure that the captions accurately reflect the spoken content in the video. Correct any errors or typos in the transcript.
  • Synchronization: Check that the captions match the audio on-screen at the correct times. Adjust timing as needed.
  • Consistency: Maintain consistent formatting, style, and caption lengths throughout the video.

Step 9: Exporting and Distribution

Once you’re satisfied with your closed captions, it’s time to export and distribute your accessible video content. Export your video with embedded closed captions. Most video editing software will allow you to do this by selecting the appropriate export settings.

Step 10: Testing Accessibility

Conduct testing with deaf and hard-of-hearing people to ensure your closed captions are genuinely accessible. Gather feedback and make necessary adjustments to improve the user experience.

Discover essential steps to creating closed captions so your content is accessible to all.

Closed Captioning Opens The Door to Greater Inclusivity

In conclusion, closed captions are vital for making video content accessible to people with disabilities. By following the steps in this blog, you can create inclusive content that reaches a broader audience and enhances the viewing experience. But videos are only one variable in the overall digital inclusivity landscape.  It’s critical to ensure all of your digital assets are accessible and compliant, and assistive tech tools can help. 

See why millions of companies choose UserWay for their accessibility and compliance needs. 

How to Win on the Web With UserWay

Ready to take that crucial first step to increase accessibility and compliance? Lean on UserWay to make it happen. AI-driven tech tools, attorney-led legal support, and commission-based partnerships are just a few reasons to let us do the heavy lifting.

Learn more about our products and services today.  

Answers to Common FAQs

How do I turn on Closed Captioning in PowerPoint videos?

Open the video slide that needs captions in the “Normal” view, and select the video on the slide. Next, choose Insert Captions on the Playback tab and browse to your caption file in the Insert Captions dialog box. 

How Do Open and Closed Captioning Differ?

Open captions are always in the user’s view, and they can never turn them off. On the other hand, viewers can turn closed captions on and off whenever they want.

Closed Caption VS. Subtitle: What’s the Difference?

Captions provide an accessible way for viewers who cannot hear the audio to watch a video. Subtitles offer an accessible way for speakers of any language to watch videos.

How Do You Add Auto Captions to Videos? Auto caption video

  1. Visit YouTube.
  2. Click Create Go Live in the top right corner. 
  3. Select Stream in the left-side menu.
  4. Turn on Closed captions stream settings.
  5. Select “Automatic captions” for the caption source.
  6. Select the video language.