'Closed captions' are subtitles that appear on screen as a video plays, providing a text representation of the audio content of the video. They are called 'closed' as they can be turned on and off according to the user's preference.
Captioning video is good standard practice - it helps meet W3C accessibility guidelines by allowing users with hearing impairments to access the audio content of the video.
It can also benefit users with no audio playback hardware, mobile users sited in a quiet area (like a library), those learning to speak a non-native language, or in an environment when the audio is difficult to make out.
To sample closed captioning in YouTube, you can view either of the videos below.
- Click Play on the chosen video, then hover over the grey-and-white triangular button on the bottom right of the YouTube screen (second from the right).
- Then, select the CC (closed caption) button that pops up, and your captions should appear automatically.
- To make the captions disappear again, follow the same process, hover over the triangular button and deselect the CC button this time.
Notice how the captions are synced with the audio - this is all done with automatic timecodes.
Do you want to know how to add closed captions to your YouTube videos? Follow this simple step-by-step guide written by Viewpoints, which will walk you through the straightforward process. (You can download this document from SlideShare as well, if you want a copy on your hard drive.)
As a rough guide, it will take 30-50 minutes to create and upload captions for a 3-minute YouTube video. A simple online tool specified in this document (with full instructions for use) will help you add timecodes so that your text is synced properly to the audio on screen.