The Importance of Captioning Instructional Videos

Instructional media has seen rapid growth in recent years, and can now be found in most traditional face to face courses, blended classrooms, and fully online learning environments. With this increased implementation comes the demand for effective and equal learning opportunities for all. One of the easiest methods for ensuring inclusive learning is by including captions with your educational videos. Why is it important to caption your videos? The simple answer is that it is the right thing to do. Captions are tremendously helpful to students who are hard of hearing or second language learners, and studies have shown that including captions with videos improves access, searchability, and retention for all students. You might also know that the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) requires federal, state, and local government agencies to provide equal access to accommodations and facilities. Specifically, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act specifies that federal agencies must make all electronic information accessible.

There are numerous benefits to including captions with instructional videos. Some of these benefits include serving students with reading or literacy difficulties, providing missing information for learners who might have trouble processing auditory or speech components in media, assisting with content retention and understanding, helping learners in a second language to fully understand key concepts, and meeting federal regulations for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Research has also found that students who utilize captioned videos show dramatic progress in their test scores and comprehension, with nearly a full GPA increase in grades.

When captions are needed for accommodation purposes in an academic setting, the MU Disability Center can assist with acquiring them for your classroom videos. For other situations when captions are not required for accommodation purposes, individual units are responsible for creating captions themselves or outsourcing their creation through vendors. As an example, support staff at Educational Technologies at Missouri (ET@MO)caption videos whenever possible through a combination of do-it-yourself captions and through third-party vendors, with an aim to eventually caption all of the media produced in-house.

While the technology and resources for the captioning of videos have become more readily available, adequate considerations for their inclusion are often overlooked. Though we as an educational institution are not obligated to follow the industry standards that other media regulated by the FCC must follow, it is still in our best interests to ensure that video captioning is included as often as possible. Not only does captioning assist second language learners or those with hearing disabilities, it helps all of us by creating a truly inclusive learning environment.