Dalmation running with ball (text: Sea Scott pun.)

Guest post by Catherine McKee, Assistant Distance Learning Coordinator at Mt. SAC

Wait. Shouldn’t that be “See Spot run.”? Yes, it should!

In this blog post, we’ll address another challenge commonly faced by faculty going through the SPOT certification process: accurate captioning of videos. (If you missed it, the first challenge was using accessible headers.)

Accessibility is so important that SPOT 2.0 contains two accessibility modules.

(NOTE: SPOT 2.0 is the course in which you are a student, which takes you through the process of building your own course. We’ll just refer to it as “SPOT” throughout this post. SPOT### is your own SPOT shell, the one in which you’re building your four-content module course for our review, and it may contain either a three- or four-digit number. We’ll refer to it as SPOT### throughout this post.)

The first accessibility module, imaginatively named the “Accessibility Module,” is positioned near the start of SPOT, between Modules 1 and 2, so faculty are aware of accessibility requirements as they build their own SPOT### course for review. The actual SPOT accessibility tasks are found in Module 6, at the end of SPOT. The accessibility tasks are numbered 6.1 through 6.12 in the current SPOT rubric.

(NOTE: You can use any version of the SPOT rubric. You do not have to switch rubrics each time we update it. The current rubric was updated in September 2021. If you’re using an earlier version of the rubric the task numbers may be slightly different.)

One of the accessibility tasks is 6.10: “Accurately caption all videos, audio files, and tutorials (auto-generated captions are not accessible).” SPOT### courses are often submitted containing videos with auto-generated captions. We must then send the course back to the faculty member for captioning revisions. The captions must be in the language spoken in the video and must be accurate, meaning that the words, punctuation, and capitalization must be accurate.

Below are two videos that cleverly and humorously illustrate the importance of accurate captions:


One way to check for auto-generated captions is to play the video, click “CC” and look to the top left corner of the video (refer to image below). Captions are auto-generated (and therefore not accurate enough) if you see this message at the top left.

What to do? Luckily there are several options available:

  • If it’s your video, you can edit the captions in YouTube.
  • Record your own video using Canvas Studio, and caption it yourself (super easy!).
  • Consider contacting the owner of the video to ask if she/he/they will correct the captions.
  • Submit the video to the Mt. SAC Captioning Service. Even if it’s someone else’s video, you can provide a link of the YouTube video to this service, and they’ll fix the captions for you without obtaining any permissions, usually returned within a week.
  • Remove the video, and substitute it with one from the Library’s video collections, such as Films on Demand, Kanopy, and Swank.

Faculty should be aware that accurate captioning is required for all videos that you use in your course, not just the ones you embed in your online courses. For further details on accessibility requirements, visit the FCLT’s Faculty Accessibility Center, which contains more information on video and audio accessibility, including captioning requirement details.

Finally, SPOT requires faculty to run a UDOIT accessibility check before submitting the SPOT### course for review. UDOIT can detect between videos with unedited auto-generated captions and videos with a custom (and presumably more accurate) caption file, and UDOIT will flag any unedited captions even if the video has 100% accurate captions. Why? Because UDOIT can’t check the accuracy of the captions. By flagging the videos UDOIT is reminding us that we must check the accuracy of our video captions. If you’ve checked the accuracy of your video captions and they’re accurate, you can ignore the UDOIT captioning error messages.

I hope these tips are helpful for ensuring that your instructional videos have accurate captions. Happy Captioning!

Do you have your own tips for accurately captioning videos or for completing SPOT in general? Share them in the comments below!

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