Options to Make Your YouTube Videos More Accessible With Closed Captioning

Have you noticed the CC button in the bottom right corner of YouTube videos? This icon turns on closed captions. This means that it will show text or subtitles that match the audio in the video. YouTube has automatically provided this feature where it translates the audio into a particular language.

This is great because it makes the video more accessible for people who prefer to read along or for people who have hearing impairments.

The problem is that sometimes, the text is incorrect. It is, after all, inserted by a computer system that decodes the audio into text of the most similar-sounding words that it can identify. If you want your video to be correctly subtitled, you should first turn on your CC and check the text.

In this blog post I will show you how to access the options to add new-- or correct your current closed captioning and give you an overview of the tool.

1. First, go to your YouTube account at https://www.youtube.com/ and log in.

2. Go directly to your video if you know its link. Under the play button, click on the CC tab for Captions. If you do this step, then you can skip to step 7 or 8 of this blog.

Click on the CC tab for Captions

3. Otherwise, search for your video. In the top right corner of the YouTube main page, select your personal icon to access your account. Click on CREATOR STUDIO.

Select Creator Studio

4. You can now access your Video Manager.

Access Video Manager

5. Find your video and select Edit.

Select Edit

6. Your Editing menu with many options will appear above the video. Select Subtitles and CC.

In the top menu, choose Subtitles and CC

7. Select your video language.

From the drop-down, select the language of the audio in the video

There are now several paths you could take to add captions/subtitles. 

8. If you click on the Add New Subtitles or CC, it will give you several options.

Add new subtitles or CC above OR go to the automatic CC in the bottom selection

Adding New Subtitles

9. If you choose to add new subtitles, you have several choices:

These are options to add new subtitles from scratch

These are options to start from scratch. This might be a good option if you noticed the majority of your automatic captions are incorrect.

If you upload a file, it will take the text from the file and apply it to your video. One issue that I've experienced when I uploaded a script file was that YouTube didn't recognize it. Well, it recognized parts of it. I used a basic TextEdit / RTF file.

The next option would be to transcribe. You can type the entire script or copy and paste it from your storyboard then set the timing later.

Type the entire script then set timings later

The final new-subtitle option would be to create new subtitles. Out of all the new-subtitle options, I prefer this one because you could play the video and pause where you want it to. Then you can add the text and adjust it on the timeline. You just do this again and again for each audio phrase in the timeline.

Type and add to the audio timeline at the same time, one phrase at a time

Here's a good short video from YouTube HelpCreating subtitles and closed captions, that will assist you with adding new subtitles. It shows how the audio/video timeline works:

Correcting Automatic Subtitles

10. The next option is to go back to the previous menu and select English (Automatic) or your preferred language.

Return to the CC options to select English (Automatic)

In this option, the text is automatically scripted based on the audio pauses between phrases and sentences. In this option, you may notice that there is no punctuation, words may be misspelled, and written information may be misrepresented. This option is recommended if you don't want to time the text and there are few errors in your subtitles, so you can just correct text here and there.

This option has automatic subtitles that are timed and typed out on the right of the video

Whatever option you choose, you will eventually have to work with your audio-video timeline. On the right of the video, you can edit the text that apears. Beneath the video is the timeline. You can extend the blue brackets to adjust how long you want the text to last on screen. The YouTube video above also demonstrates how to adjust text on a timeline, so you might want to check that out if you haven't yet.

You can drag and re-size parts of text in an audio timeline

Adjusting the automatic captions is what I've favored so far because it sets up the audio timeline based on phrasal pauses, so I could just edit the phrases for some spelling and punctuation. If you've found that starting from scratch is more convenient or better instead, please leave a comment and let me know.

Overall, I think YouTube's closed captioning tool is very friendly and easy to use versus adding subtitles in a digital video editor. I recommend CC for anyone who wants to make their YouTube videos accessible to more viewers.

More Resources:
Add subtitles and closed captions by Google Support - https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2734796?hl=en
Reasons why your video doesn't have captions, Automatic captions by Google Support - https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/3038280?hl=en

Key words: YouTube, Closed Captions, Captioning, Subtitles, Hearing impairment