Vimeo and Captioning

YouTube is well known and respected for supporting captions in their online player since 2006 and providing simple tools to add captions. There’s another online video player by Vimeo that is also very popular, but at this time, unfortunately, does not support captions.

When Rick Casey posted his first comment 4 years ago on Vimeo Community Forum about adding captioning feature, replies by Vimeo staff had upset so many people, both hearing and deaf, who added their comments on that forum about why captions are important. One of them is Eric Stoller who is hearing, but cares a great deal about captions and accessibility in general and advocates for it. He also wrote blog posts about this issue.

In one of Eric’s original blogposts in 2009 – “Vimeo and closed captioning”, he replied to those comments and referenced to other threads in the forum that show Vimeo seems not to care about people who need captions.

One of Vimeo staff members said: “I apologize for any inconvenience this causes, and we’ll certainly keep this feature in mind as we continue to plan and schedule development.” And Eric replied: “This is not an inconvenience. It’s about access. People who cannot hear, cannot use Vimeo. I think that this shows that Vimeo is not about community. Communities care about all of their members … not just the ones that can hear.”

Because of the lack of Vimeo support for captions, Eric (who works in higher education) has encouraged more universities to switch from Vimeo to YouTubes by writing another blog in 2011, “Vimeo – Still Not A Viable Web Video Solution For Higher Education.”

A couple months ago, Eric wrote the latest blogpost, “Dear Vimeo, Patience Isn’t An Option.” He was surprised to find out that Harvard and some other universities use Vimeo for videos and tried to discourage them via Twitter from using it due to the lack of captioning feature. Vimeo replied: “This is something we are working on. Thanks for your patience!” Eric said: “For the deaf community, captions on a video are crucial to gaining access to content. Vimeo has been talking about captioning functionality for at least four years. Unfortunately, talk is cheap when you can’t hear.”

I hope that Vimeo will finally implement the captioning support for their video player.

Meanwhile, if you use Vimeo for videos, please switch to YouTube that offers simple captioning tools or use Universal Subtitles to add captions to existing players that don’t have this feature.