What is Video Captioning?

December 19, 2023


Video captioning is the process of converting the audio track of a video to onscreen text. Captioning provides interpretative information for music, speech, and other audio.

Video captions allow people who are deaf or hard of hearing to access the audio track in video and multimedia presentations. Synchronized captions are required for all prerecorded audio content to ensure compliance with conformance with the W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines WCAG 2.0.

There are two types of captioning that conform with WCAG 2.0:

Closed Captions

Closed Captions for video and multimedia content include embedded subtitles. Closed captions (CC) require a user agent which supports captions, but can be exported to transcript format, and indexed by search engines.

Open Captions

Open captions are embedded in actual multimedia content and cannot be separated or exported from videos. They do not require a user agent which supports captions, but can degrade in quality when videos are compressed.


Google uses speech recognition technology to provide automatic captions for content uploaded to YouTube. This a great feature, in theory, as it allows content developers to provide accessible multimedia content automatically. The problem with auto captions is that no speech recognition technology is perfect, and auto-captions have many grammatical, spelling and other errors that impede accessibility.

To ensure conformance with WCAG 2.0, Aurora recommends human generated captions for all audio and video content.

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