Importance of Captioning in Higher Ed

About 20 percent of Americans, approximately 48 million, report some degree of hearing loss. Sixty percent of the people with hearing loss, over 28 million, are either in the work force or in an educational setting ( In this instance, captions, used in conjunction with transcripts, provide a text alternative to audio content which is essential to providing equivalent information.

In a nationwide research study conducted by Oregon State University's Ecampus Research Unit, 98.6% of students surveyed reported that they found captions helpful. In addition, 75% of all students who use captions use captions as a learning aid. The number one reason students gave for using captions was to help them focus on the video content. (3Play Media)

As the study indicates, captions benefit everyone, not just deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals.  Providing captions and transcripts can:

  • Enhance the educational experience for people who respond to different learning styles and preferences.
  • Allow content to be utilized by those in either extremely loud or extremely quiet environments.
  • Ensure non-native speakers have access to information in videos.
  • Facilitate understanding of vocabulary, or information presented in different dialects, as part of captured lectures or other video resources.

In some cases, up to 80% of viewers using captions are not considered deaf or hard of hearing, including instances when a person cannot listen to audio because of their work or study environment.

An added benefit of providing captions and transcripts for online resources is the likelihood of higher search engine rankings for our programs, departments, colleges and the University.

(For more information, see "Video Captions Benefit Everyone".)

Did you know?

  • In the United States, about 55 million people have a disability (src: 2010 U.S. Census).
  • About 1 in 5 Americans have some kind of disability (src: 2010 U.S. Census).
  • The percentage of people affected by disabilities is growing as our population ages.
  • Two popular, free screen readers are VoiceOver (Mac OS and iOS) and NVDA (Win).
  • Good accessibility practices can improve the search ranking of your website.
  • Form fields without labels can cause problems for some assistive technology users.
  • Low color contrast makes content difficult to see, especially for users with low vision.
  • Documents linked on a website need to be accessible too (e.g., PDF and Word files).
  • Audio content, like podcasts, need transcripts for deaf or hard of hearing users.
  • Online videos should be captioned for deaf or hard of hearing users.
  • Using HTML tags correctly is very important for accessibility.
  • Descriptive link text helps make a website more accessible. Avoid using "Click here" or "Read more."
  • A "screen reader" is an application that reads content aloud to a user.
  • There is no "alt tag" in HTML. "Alt" is an attribute used with the img tag.
  • HTML uses the alt attribute to provide a text description of an image.
  • Alt text should describe an image, if the purpose of the image is to convey information.
  • If an image is a link, the alt text for the image should explain where the link goes.
  • If an image is only being used for decoration, the alt text should be null (i.e., alt="").
  • If a table has headers, using header tags (<th>) will make the table more accessible.
  • An accessible website is one that can be navigated and understood by everyone.