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The content of our audio and video media, such as social posts and podcasts, must be made accessible to individuals with disabilities. This includes providing captions, transcripts and audio descriptions.


To meet ADA guidelines, our videos are required to have captioning available for viewers. There are two types of captions: open and closed. Open captions are always in view and cannot be turned off, whereas closed captions can be turned on and off by the viewer. Below are platform-specific best practices.

YouTube, Facebook and Vimeo

YouTube, Facebook and Vimeo support closed captioning, so open captioning is not necessary. However, remember to proofread the closed caption file before publishing and promoting your video. Auto-generated caption files often contain misspellings and errors. In fact, auto-generated caption files supplied by YouTube and others are not considered viable according to the Department of Justice for compliance with ADA.

When uploading your video to YouTube and Facebook, make sure to correct your captions within the platform (Pro tip: To avoid duplicate effort, if you upload the same video to both Youtube and Facebook, you can correct the captions for Youtube first, then download the .SRT file and add it to Facebook). Facebook auto-plays all videos with the sound turned off, so open captioning is a best practice for higher post engagement.

Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn

Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn do not support closed captioning — open captioning is required for ADA compliance. For instructions on creating open captions, read the caption section of video elements and styles.

Captions vs. subtitles, what’s the difference? Captions are a timed transcript of audio while subtitles are a translation of language.

How To Caption

When it comes to captioning your video you can choose to do it yourself using a free caption editing tool, or through a paid service provider.

Do it Yourself

Consider this option if:

  • Your videos are short and uncomplicated
  • The total scope of you project (number of videos) is relatively small
  • Someone on your team can dedicate time to manually create and edit captions

Amara (Free)

Make your own captions with Amara’s editing tool. By creating an account with your UCLA Google Apps login, you will connect Amara to your YouTube account and videos.

YouTube (Free)

The platform provides algorithm translated captions and tools to edit misspellings and errors. You can also upload a transcript and adjust the timing to fit video playback.

Trint (Free Trial)

A free trial grants access for a limited time to an automated transcription tool and other editing tools. Transcript translations are also available.

Paid Service

Consider this option if:

  • Your videos are long or complicated
  • The total scope of you project (number of videos) is relatively large
  • You do not have adequate staff to manually create and edit captions
  • A rapid turnaround is required

3Play Media

The University of California has a Master Service Agreement with 3Play Media. This Agreement can be used by any UCLA department or team.


  • Discipline-specific transcriptionists are standing by
  • Accent expertise
  • Technical vocabulary expertise
  • Keyword support
  • Spanish captioning


  • Standard turnaround is three business days
  • Shorter turnaround for an added cost
  • Longer turnaround for a discount

Live Captions

Consider the needs of your audience when streaming live events. Webcasted conferences, lectures and meetings can include captions to provide immediate access to audio content.

Dynamic Captioning

“Dynamic Captioning creates visual audio for our client’s programming, allowing unfettered access to their content by the deaf and hearing impaired community across all platforms of their content delivery.”


“From the classroom to the corporate world, StreamText delivers the spoken word as real time captions to virtually any platform or device with Internet access.”


Platform tools provide options for manual closed captioning during your meetings, a third-party login service for captions and a live transcription feature (with some limitations).


Transcripts are similar to captions in that they convert audio into readable text. However, transcripts exist in a separate scrollable document instead of time-coded text in the video.

Tips for making a transcript:

  • Convert your audio to captions using a caption editing tool or service
  • Most caption editing tools include the ability to export a transcript
  • Transcripts should include all audio, on-screen text and any necessary visual information

Audio Descriptions

Audio descriptions make visual-only content accessible to people who are blind or visually impared. You can create audio descriptions yourself, or pay a service provider.

Do It Yourself

Consider this option if your video doesn’t contain a lot of visual messaging. Use one of the caption editing tools mentioned above to create a timed text file.

Paid Service

Consider this option if your video contains a lot of visual messaging, complex visual information, etc. The University of California has a Master Service Agreement with 3Play Media. This Agreement can be used by any UCLA department or team.