Captioning and Transcriptions

Captioning and Transcriptions

Captioning and transcription ensures equal access to all digital content. Please verify that all content created, edited, or utilized on University of Virginia digital platforms (behind NetBadge login and not) adheres to the captioning and transcription criteria outlined below, in accordance with UVA Policy IRM-008 and the current Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

Please contact the d/Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Coordinator ([email protected]), the ADA Coordinator Team ([email protected]), or complete the Captioning Request Form if you have any questions about the captioning guidelines outlined below.

Captioning & Transcription

Captioning and Transcriptions benefits multiple audiences and ensures equal access for people with hearing, learning, and cognitive disabilities.

Captioning transforms audio into text displayed on a screen, creating a time-synchronized file that mirrors audio elements, identifies the speakers, and informs of all essential sound effects in multimedia recordings.  Captioning can be added to a pre-recorded video or added to live videos in real time.

  • Closed Captions - Allow users to toggle them on and off, a standard feature in platforms like YouTube, Vimeo, or A11yPlayer, and is the preferred method for all captioning at the UVA.
  • Open Captions – Do not allow users to toggle captions on and off.
  • Subtitles - are language translations that assist viewers in understanding content presented in a language that is not their own. Subtitles include only dialog and narration and are often mistakenly referred to as captions.

Transcripts are accurate written versions of spoken content, usually not synchronized with multimedia. They are usually placed close to the multimedia for easy access and may include interactive elements. (I.e., audio-only files like podcasts ).


Captions and Transcripts for Pre-Recorded and Post-Production Events

It is essential that pre-recorded and post-production captions are complete and reviewed for accuracy by the hosting department before being made available on any UVA digital platform.

Types of Captioning
Approach Cost Accuracy Effort by Hosting Department
Professional Captioning 
(VHEAP Captioning Initiative)
Varies by Vendor High Minimal Editing Review
(YouTube, Microsoft, Zoom, etc.)
Free Varies Significant Editing Review

Captions and Transcripts for Live Events

Live events are considered any UVA sponsored event that takes place in person or virtually. For hosting inclusive live events, we encourage auto-captions to be enabled and available to participants. If an accommodation request for live captions has been made by an individual that plans to attend the event professional captions should be provided. 

Live events should consider the use of professional live captioning by a vendor when:

  • Events are university school wide events (i.e., commencement, orientation, advertised events with substantial audience)
  • Events are live streamed (I.e., press conference, faculty lecture on YouTube, etc.)
  • Events open to the general public or if there is no registration/enrollment process to attend.

If the event is recorded and distributed later, captions should be carefully reviewed and edited for completeness and accuracy before being shared in any digital format with students, faculty, staff, or the UVA community.

Captions and Transcripts for Multimedia

Provide Transcripts and Captioning for Multimedia
Type of Multimedia Captions Transcripts
Pre-recorded Video and Audio Yes Yes
Pre-recorded Audio only (e.g., podcasts) NA Yes
Live Video and Audio Yes Provide if Requested
Live Audio Only (e.g., radio shows) Provide if Requested Provide if Requested

Audio descriptions are needed in certain circumstances when visual information is not being clearly conveyed to the user through sound. Contact the Digital Accessibility Coordinator to determine if your multimedia requires audio descriptions and to learn how to obtain them.

Provide sign language interpreting services if requested.  Contact the Student Disabilities Access Center (SDAC) or complete the ASL Request Form for assistance.

Accuracy and Quality of Captions

Captions generated by Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) solutions are widely available for both live and pre-recorded captioning from various sources. In most cases, automatic machine generated captions such as YouTube, Vimeo, MyMedia, Studio, Panopto, MS Teams are not sufficient to meet the needs of an individual with a video captioning accommodation. Despite potential errors, ASR can be a suitable captioning solution in certain circumstances, such as when an accommodation has not been requested, when the video/event is of a single person speaking clearly, and there is limited background noise. ASR solutions will require a review for accuracy and completeness.

Advertise Captioning for Events

Captions are important for live events, so sponsors should promote this service in invitations and marketing materials. Advertising captions enables those relying on the service to participate without requesting an accommodation. Include a statement inviting accommodation requests.

Sample Text to Include

Live captions and an accompanying transcript will be provided using automatic speech recognition (ASR) software [insert tool (i.e., Zoom, MS Teams, other)]. If you would like to request accommodations such as captions by a professional service, ASL interpretation, or other services for the event, please contact [insert contact information] by [insert date at least five (5) business days before event].

Visit the University ADA Coordinator's Planning and Hosting Accessible Programs and Events page for more information on how you can create an inclusive and accessible environment, whether virtual or in-person.

Covering the Cost of Captioning and Transcripts

The financial responsibility for captioning and transcription services varies. 

  • For academic course content and student accommodations the university covers professional captioning (e.g., video/lecture recordings, podcasts) through the Captioning Project and SDAC.
  • Departments are responsible for funding captioning for employee accommodations, public-facing web content, and multimedia materials behind a UVA NetBadge Login. 

For inquiries about captioning specific content or payment details, please email [email protected].

Available Vendors for Captioning and Costs

UVA has entered into agreements with several captioning vendors through the Virginia Higher Education Accessibility Partners (VHEAP) Captioning Initiative. The chart below provides a quick comparison of each vendor, though it is not exhaustive, and other quality vendors may exist beyond VHEAP. For the latest pricing information, contact the listed vendor.

UVA Contracted Captioning Vendors
Company Live Captioning Post-Production/Pre-Recorded Audio Descriptions
3Play Media Yes (Remote) Yes Yes
Ai-Media Yes (Remote) Yes No
Azur Yes (Remote and on-site) Yes No
Cielo24 Yes (Remote) Yes Yes
Karasch Yes (Remote) No Yes
Verbit Yes (Remote) Yes Yes
VZP Digital Yes (Remote) Yes Yes

Depending on the kind of captioning you require, vendor, and turn around time the expense will vary, but in general the costs will be approximately:

  • Post-Production: $1.02-$2.00 per minute 
  • Live Captioning: $80.00-$150.00—per hour
  • Audio Description: $7.00-$20.00 per minute

For a full list of vendors and up to date pricing visit the VHEAP Captioning Initiative Website or contact the d/Deaf and Hard of Hearing Coordinator.

Need More Assistance?

To learn more about captioning specific content or how to manage captions on specific university platforms check out our captioning FAQ's.