Yale Center for Teaching and Learning

8. Caption videos and Zoom events

Providing closed captioning for video resources and live online events will benefit students with a wide range of disabilities as well as those who are learning English or engaging with the media in situations where audio is not an option.

When a student who requires captioning is enrolled in a class, the Student Accessibility Services office (SAS) will partner with the instructor to have professional captions created. Machine-transcribed captions are an option when not addressing an official accommodation request from SAS: these automated captions are available for many YouTube videos, video files uploaded to the Canvas Media Library tool Panopto, and live sessions hosted through Yale’s central-campus (non-HIPAA-protected) Zoom services. 

Common questions about video recordings, captioning, and Zoom sessions

I don’t have any Deaf/Hard of Hearing students in my class. Should I still use the auto captions on my videos and during online class sessions?

Yes! Captions benefit more than just Deaf/HOH students. Student retention is improved when captions are present (Morris, Frechette, et. al, 2016). Students with ADHD often cite captions as useful, whether they’re watching videos or participating in class. Lastly, captions are available so widely now that many students have grown accustomed to captions as an integral part of their experience of multimedia. For your full range of options, the Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning has created a tutorial on Captioning Basics.

The autocaptions provided by Zoom and Media Library are not very accurate. What should I do?

You will probably find that the auto captions are better than they used to be, and getting better with each software and application update. You can easily review and edit the captions for accuracy in Media Library for recorded content. Rather than being exhaustive in your corrections, focus your time on specialized vocabulary and fixing anything that renders the captions illogical. 

I’ve heard of something called Audio Description, but I don’t know what it is.

Audio Description is the inverse of captions–it’s a spoken track that describes the visuals and action of a video, and is primarily used by people who are blind or low vision. Please reach out to accessibiilty@yale.edu if you need assistance.

What things should I do to enable captions for my videos and in my Zoom sessions?

  1. Turn on the auto-captions in your Zoom account and enable them at the beginning of every class session. Each student can decide individually if they want to view the captions or not; turning them on simply provides them with this option.
  2. Familiarize yourself with other ways to make your Zoom sessions more accessible for students with disabilities.
  3. Import and edit the auto-captions on your recordings in Panopto/Media Library.
  4. Work with Student Accessibility Services if you have a student with an accommodation for CART (Communication Access Realtime Translation) captions for live sessions or for professional captioning services for recorded media. These meet the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements for accuracy.


Morris, K. K., Frechette, C., Dukes, L., Stowell, N., Topping, N. E., & Brodosi, D. (2016). Closed Captioning Matters: Examining the Value of Closed Captions for All Students. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability 29(3), 231-238. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1123786