How to Add GOOD Quality Captions to Videos in YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook

Screenshot of a video with Svetlana in front of camera and captions saying: I would like to discuss how to add captions to online videos

There are many videos online that either don’t have captions or have auto captions. Auto captions are not of acceptable quality. Bad captions are not better than no captions. Machine generated captions fail to meet many good quality captioning guidelines. It’s like reading a book that is not edited and includes a lot of grammatical mistakes – which makes it hard to enjoy the book. Low quality captions are like a poorly written book.

YouTube captioning tool itself is not a problem if it’s used the right way. Sadly, many people don’t realize that it’s a responsibility of media owners and producers to make their videos accessible and to ensure that their captions are of acceptable quality. They blame bad captions on YouTube, not the lack of responsibility of video owners and producers. Many also don’t know how to create good quality captions in their videos or how to download a .srt caption file that can be uploaded to Vimeo, Facebook, and other video platforms with a captioning feature.

Above is a video (click the photo to watch – you can turn on English captions in video settings) discussing how to add good quality captions in YouTube, how to download a .srt caption file, how to upload them to Vimeo and Facebook. Below is a full text transcript.

To let you know, the sample video that I uploaded to YouTube for some reasons didn’t produce auto captions. It depends on how well machine can understand voices – it probably didn’t understand mine, haha. So I showed how to type in text or copy and paste text to create captions. You can clean up auto captions in the similar way – by fixing text, adding proper punctuation, speaker identifications, sound descriptions, etc. and by fixing timing (auto timing doesn’t chunk captions well).

Full text transcript with visual description:

(Video description: A female with brown hair in a teal top signing and talking in front of camera at same time. A book case is behind her.)

Sveta’s voice:

“Hello! My name is Sveta, I’m a founder of Audio Accessibility. I would like to discuss how to add captions to online videos and why all videos need to be captioned on all platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, etc. Also, captions need to be prepared before sharing videos publicly so that everyone can enjoy them.

Many think that just turning on auto captions in YouTube would solve all accessibility problems.. No.. That’s not true.. Auto captions are NOT of acceptable quality. Bad captions are NOT better than no captions. That’s why many deaf people call them cRaptions. While YouTube offers a great tool that makes it easier for video producers to add captions to videos, in no way that feature is meant to allow machine auto generate captions because the machine cannot follow many quality captioning guidelines. Captions are more than just adding words. That’s why you need to add captions manually – either by cleaning up auto captions or by creating captions from scratch. For professional videos it’s advised to hire a professional captioner who is familiar with quality captioning guidelines.

I will discuss soon how to add captions in YouTube – but it is not that hard to do it yourself. Another great thing about YouTube is that after you are done with adding captions, chunking them, and synching them with audio, you can download a caption file that you created yourself with help of YouTube. That caption file can be uploaded to any video platform that supports captioning – like Vimeo, Facebook. As of now, Twitter doesn’t offer captioning support for their videos, so I would suggest that you share a video [in Twitter] by posting a link to YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo – or any other video that have built-in captioning support.

In addition to video captions, I would also suggest that you add a full text transcript with visual description for those who cannot see. Transcripts are only complementary to video captions but are not meant to replace them.

Now I’m going to show how to add captions in YouTube, how to download the caption file, how to upload the caption file to Vimeo and Facebook. I will not be speaking behind the scenes, so just watch.”

(Showing how to add captions in YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook – no speaking behind the scenes)

(Visual description: Title – Adding captions to YouTube)

(Visual description: In a browser on an YouTube channel account. Click the Subtitles/CC button leads to the page to click the button that says: Add new subtitles or CC. Then click the button to pick English. There are 4 select methods: upload a file (if you have a caption file), transcribe and auto sync (not recommended), create new subtitles or CC (recommended), buy subtitles/CC or transcription (recommended). To create captions yourself, click the button that says: create new subtitles or CC. It goes a page titled Transcribe and set timings: English. Left column allows you to type text or copy from a script to create captions. Right column shows the video and timing settings. When done, click the button to save changes.)

(Visual description: Title – Downloading a caption file from YouTube)

(Visual description: On the page titled: Manage subtitles and closed captions, there’s a video with buttons on right saying that English captions are published. Showing an example of human captions – it says “English”, NOT “English (auto-generated).” Click on the button “English” under “Published” to go to the page titled: Transcribe and set timings: English. Click the button “Action” with a dropdown menu and select the “.srt” option to download a .srt file.)

(Visual description: Title – Uploading a caption file to Vimeo)

(Visual description: The Vimeo page shows a video that is uploaded but doesn’t have captions or a CC button. Below the video is a full text transcript with visual description. Click the button “Settings”. It goes to the page titled “Basic”. In a navigation menu click the button “Advanced”. Under the “Advanced” title is a subtitle saying: Upload captions and subtitles. Click the “Choose file” button to upload the .srt caption file that was downloaded from YouTube and save the page settings. Uploading a caption file makes the CC button appear in the video player and captions appear when you turn on captions in the CC settings.)

(Visual description: Title – Uploading a caption file to Facebook)

(Visual description: On a Facebook page, click to upload a video. The video pop up has a navigation menu and click the “Captions” button. Upload the .srt file that was downloaded from YouTube. Above the video is a full text transcript with visual description. Uploading a caption file enables a captioning setting in the Facebook video player.)

(Visual description: Slide – Adding captions is not that hard, right?)

Sveta’s voice: “Hope this tutorial was helpful. If you want to learn more about good quality captioning guidelines, contact me for consulting and training as well as for quality check of your video captions to ensure that they are of acceptable quality.”

(Showing a slide with contact information:
Twitter: @audio_a11y)