Closed captions, transcripts aid learning for almost all students

New research from Oregon State University highlights the importance of providing captions to videos for the benefit of all users. As described in the article Closed captions, transcripts aid learning for almost all students, the researchers found that “98.6 percent of students say captions are helpful, with 75 percent of them noting that they use captions as a learning aid in face-to-face and online classrooms.”

So while we now that we must provide captions for students with documented disabilities, the reality is that almost 99% of all students can benefit from them.  By including captioning in the planning of any video component in your course you can be confident that you are creating content that will impactful for the vast majority of all students who view it.

As we continue to work to find an affordable way to provide captioning services on campus beyond those captions required by law, which are coordinated by the UMD Disability Support Services, there are free options for creating captions using Camtasia, YouTube, or Vimeo. It’s important to remember that many qualified students at the higher education level choose not to identify as someone with a disability, or do not have the documentation necessary to receive accommodations for their disability.  Add to this the number of students who are not native English speakers, and you have a roster full of students who would utilize captions to further their learning — if captions were available:

For video transcripts, students referenced the tool as a learning aid 85 percent of the time …. More than half of students surveyed said captions help by improving comprehension. The most common reasons students use captions are to help them focus, retain information and overcome poor audio quality of the videos, while transcripts are often used as study guides and to find and retain information.

I encourage you to read the full Study from Oregon State and 3Play Media, and then begin thinking about how we can increase the use of captions to help our students have a more meaningful learning experience in our online spaces. What do you think?

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8 thoughts on “Closed captions, transcripts aid learning for almost all students”

  1. Sue,

    Very interesting article. Close captioning (CC) offers greater accessibility to a variety of groups. As you have mentioned in your post, CC is a learning tool for disable / challenged learners and also a great tool for the learners who use English as a second language.
    CC not only serves as an excellent tool in education but also in entertainment.
    And even though English IS your first language, CC help a great deal if the video clips/ e-learning courses are from other countries. From my own experience, I always prefer to watch British movies and shows with Close Captioning because of different accents.
    Thanks for sharing the article and the Study by Oregon State University.


    1. We have been saying for years that any design enhancement or accommodation made in deference to ADA compliance is never detrimental to communities that do not require accommodation. I agree with Ruddhi’s observation,as well, that closed captioning can be a great learning aid for individuals for whom English is not a primary language. Our challenge here at UMD is not so much apathy within our instructional community, I suspect, but, rather, lack of funding to make closed captioning and transcription a requirement for every piece of digital media produced to support learning on our campus. For the near future, we seem locked into being strictly reactive to needs for accommodation identified by students through DSS. It’s a good time, though, to get into the habit of referring to this department within the Counseling Center by its new name, Accessibility and Disability Service.

  2. Frequently captioning is given as the example of the benefits to all users of designing for students with documented disabilities. However, I have noticed that there is a greater public awareness of designing objects for people with disabilities. The ATM at my branch has text, audio and lights in the sequence of the transaction. It is also enhanced by animation. Many people benefit from this interface – persons with low vision, deafness, non-English speaking, low literacy and more. It does take time to add the captions and upgrading a learning object. But we should be thinking of it differently. Instead of modifying an object, the goal is to build an object to be accessible to all. This standard would intrinsic to the University’s culture and validate the cost of captioning videos. Thanks for the document.!

  3. Yes, there are free options for creating captions. I feel Camtasia is one of the best of those free options. It’s easy and quick. Maybe in our Camtasia training, we should make it one of the main topics.

    Thanks, Sue.

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