Do I Really Have to Caption My Videos?

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Video is an incredibly powerful communications medium and users are desiring more and more video content. There are many different ways to create videos and lots of tools to help you make your videos really shine. It seems that the one hangup that most people have about using video is captioning.

Any public video that we, as employees of NC State University, create is required to be captioned by Federal and State law and university policies. This alone is reason enough that we have to do captioning, but in actuality, we should all want to caption our videos. Besides being the right thing to do for accessibility reasons, captions add value to your product in many ways.


Captions are essential for ensuring your video is accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. More than 1 out of 6 Americans have some form of hearing loss. Accurately captioning content is a small step that can significantly impact a significant portion of the population.

Captions Improve Comprehension

Closed captions can really be beneficial to online learning. Captions on a video result in a viewer having a better understanding of the content by both reading the words and listening to the audio at the same time. Captions also greatly enhance the experience for viewers whose native language is not English since they can read along while they listen.

No Sound

More than 85% of videos on Facebook are viewed with the sound off and Facebook isn’t the only place where users consume video. Video is often viewed in environments where background noise is loud or where viewers need to be discrete. Viewers of captioned videos can follow along silently no matter where they are.

Are Auto-Captions Good Enough?

Automatically generated captions have come a long way, but they are still not accurate enough to meet the requirements. Auto-captions are a great tool to create a starting file, but you have to review and edit it for a final version. Just using auto-captions is like publishing your first draft without any spelling or grammar checks. Even worse, with much of our technical and scientific information, it could be completely wrong or even dangerous in some cases.

So, do I really have to caption my videos?

The answer is yes. If you are producing video content, making the captions should just be a part of the process. There are some exceptions to the requirement if you have a small, defined audience (like a class) where you know there are no needs for captioning. In this case, captions still add value and would become instantly required should someone in the group have a need or if the video was to be used elsewhere.

Captions are just a part of creating a good video. Don’t even question it. Just caption it.