Accessibility - Captioned Media Guidelines

GVSU has established “Captioned Media Guidelines” for video and live streaming events.

This page highlights recommendations for video captioning and the use of video in teaching and learning.

Important Notice

  • If you have any students with a documented disability in your classes, the Disability Support Resources (DSR) office provides support and assistance of these students. 

Recommended Software and Support

For any instructional video content that you develop and upload into Blackboard and/or use with students, the eLearning team recommends using our Panopto enterprise video solution. This software allows you to create or upload a video and then in turn, use the auto-caption features to ensure accessibility. Also, you can edit your captions directly in the system to fix any errors in the automated captioning.

  • Learn more about using Panopto to create accessible video content.

Panopto - An Introduction

Panopto - An Introduction

Additionally, Blackboard is recommended for all instructional content for courses. Blackboard provides support for universal design, inclusive education, and accessibility through a solution called Ally. This software from Blackboard provides auto-accessibility checking for instructional content as well as auto-conversion of documents into: audio only, HTML accessible, ePub, and electronic braille for all content in all courses in the system.

  • Learn more about Ally to support the creation of accessible course content.

Finally, be sure to review the eLearning team's tips and instructional media guides for creating accessible content on our web site. Seminars are also offered throughout the year such as: “6 Practical Examples that Faculty can implement in their Blackboard Courses to Benefit all Learners and Improve Accessibility”.  Registration for these sessions are available in Sprout.

Blackboard Ally for Instructors

Blackboard Ally for Instructors

Captioned Media Guidelines

These guidelines were shared by the University Academic Senate on November 27, 2017.

Grand Valley State University is committed to the fundamental academic principles of equity and accessibility by providing all students and staff with equitable access to the University’s programs, services, events and staff development activities. The aim of this policy is to support an inclusive academic environment by incorporating design concepts that reduce or remove barriers.  

Captioned media allows equal access to the content for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. Captions are text displayed on-screen to represent what is spoken, as well as appropriate audio cues. Captions must meet Section 508 (amendment to the Rehabilitation Act) requirements for accuracy and time synchronization. Automatic captioning such as YouTube’s Autocaptions rarely meet the requirements for accuracy.  


  • All video material, including live streaming video, on university web pages or otherwise available to the general public require captions. 
  • All captioning costs are to be built into divisional/departmental budgets.  
  • All video material used as part of classroom activities, instruction, out of class assignments, distance learning, co-curricular activities, and online course video lecture material require captions when a student who is deaf or hard of hearing is enrolled. 
  • Impromptu classroom materials - when using video material in a classroom setting for the purposes of enhancing learning with current events, or a topic that could not be prepared for ahead of time, every effort must be made to obtain a captioned copy of the video, including seeking an alternative video that contains captions. Non-captioned video material of this nature may only be used when no student in class are known to need captions as an accommodation. 
  • Video material produced as part of classroom projects to a defined audience in which no one has identified as needing captions as an accommodation, is not required (but strongly advised) to contain captions. In the event this video material is made public in any way on GVSU websites, YouTube, or any other cloud or network-based video storage solution, captions are required. 
  • It is the responsibility of unit/department administrators, faculty, and staff to transition video materials to captioned products. University representatives will purchase only the captioned version of new instructional media and other audio-visual materials. If a particular product is not available with captioning, the purchaser can request the assistance of Disability Support Resources in obtaining written permission from the copyright owner to add captions to the video. Please note that permission must be obtained prior to purchase, as a condition of purchase. In the event that permission is denied, a suitable captioned alternative will be sought. 
  • Faculty and staff utilizing video material from their own personal or departmental collections for their course for classroom activities, instruction, out of class assignments, distance learning, and co-curricular activities are responsible for ensuring it is captioned. In the case of commercially-produced videos, appropriate public performance rights and licenses must be obtained when required. 
  • All video material to be used as part of training materials for institutional personnel require captions. 
  • All new instructional, informational, marketing, and promotional video materials produced by GVSU will be produced with captions on the master copy to ensure all subsequent copies will be captioned. 
  • For further information and assistance about copyright, performance rights, and licenses, contact the Grand Valley State University Library. 

Language Learning

  • English language captioning is not required in courses where foreign language or comprehension and recall of spoken word would be negated by the addition of these captions (i.e. If the objective of an assignment is to have students watch a Spanish speaking movie and assess comprehension based on Spanish listening skills, providing written captioning for the movie would eliminate the ability of a faculty member to know whether reading skills or listening skills were being assessed).
  • However, if subtitles in the germane language are available, and they do not circumvent course objectives and may enhance the learning experience, they are encouraged. 

Reason for the Guidelines

  • To comply with federal law.
  • To comply with the University’s Web Accessibility policy PC 9.7.
  • To provide equal access to information for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • To support an inclusive environment with universal design.  
  • To benefit any viewer when variations of audio quality or surrounding noise create inaudible sound. 

The Role of Disability Support Resources

  • Act as initial resource to connect departments and faculty to resources to assist with captioning.
  • To maintain a library of captioned media resources that are available for faculty, staff, and student use.
  • To maintain a record of all permissions for captioning and the digitization of copyrighted media resources.
  • To assist faculty by identifying materials that are captioned prior to purchase. 


For the purposes of this policy:  

  • Video and media includes DVD video, VHS video, internet-based video, digitally streamed video, and any other format that includes an audio-visual component.
  • Captioned media displays the audio content of a program as text on-screen and synchronized with the dialogue of the speaker, and includes additional auditory information such as sound effects. This provides accessibility for individuals who are deaf, deafened, or hard of hearing while also benefiting individuals with diverse learning abilities and whose primary language is not English. American Sign Language (ASL) Interpreters and computerized note takers who provide support services to students registered with Disability Support Resources cannot effectively translate or transcribe media.
  • Closed captioned media provides the option of having the captions appear on the screen through a decoder, which is built into a television, projector, media player, or display device.
  • Open captioned media does not require a decoder, as captioning is permanently part of the picture and cannot be turned off. A media resource is considered to be captionable if, at the time of purchase, the University received permission from the copyright owner to caption the item.


FAQ’s for Faculty 

What’s the turnaround time for DSR to caption a video?

  • One week 

How do I caption YouTube videos?

Is there a university login to Docsoft? Can anyone use this software?

  • At this time all Docsoft work is being done through DSR.   

 Where can faculty find help for captioning videos?

  • Faculty can contact DSR for assistance with captioning videos.
  • GVSU’s eLearning team.  

Page last modified April 23, 2018