Boost Course Accessibility with Free, Web-Based Transcription Tools

Concurrent Session 5
Streamed Session

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Would you like to improve the accessibility of your videos and increase viewer retention? Closed captions and transcription are a good place to start! However, these services can be time-consuming and costly. Come experience an efficient production process using a combination of free web-based tools and software.


Adrienne Wooten is an Instructional Designer for the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. She partners with faculty in the Applied Behavior Analysis, Advanced Analytics in Higher Education, and Ed Tech programs. In addition, she is an online instructor for the Educational Studies program at Arizona State University, teaching both Ed Tech and Teacher Education and Leadership courses. Before joining the team at Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Adrienne spent nearly a decade in K-12 education. She taught in the 8th grade math classroom for five years then took over as the district math curriculum, instruction, and assessment specialist. During this time, she taught and designed several high school math classes online with the district program, eSchool, in both Blackboard and Canvas. Adrienne also served as adjunct faculty in a program designed to assist educators in gaining the K-8 Mathematics Endorsement in Arizona. She holds a Bachelors Degree in Psychology with a minor in Statistics from Northern Arizona University, a Post-Baccalaureate Degree in Secondary Mathematics Education from Rio Salado College, and a Masters Degree in Educational Technology and E-Learning from Northcentral University.

Extended Abstract

Learning Objectives

  • Identify various ways closed captions and transcripts can improve a viewer’s experience.
  • Create closed captions and a transcription file using YouTube and web-based tools/software.
  • Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of web-based tools and software in the conversion of SRT to text files.

Materials Provided

  • Presentation slides.
  • Handouts with Step-by-Step tutorials for processes demonstrated, as well as links to the tutorial PDFs.
  • Weblinks to YouTube, Subtitle Edit download, SRT to text web-based tool (Go Pets America).

Suggested Materials for Attendees

  • Laptop or tablet.
  • YouTube account with short video to practice transcription.

Picture this: it’s Thanksgiving and you’ve been taxed (for the first time) to cook the big meal. Your aunt was so kind as to create a how-to video on stuffing a turkey. You just finished watching the (fifteen minute!) video and you completely forgot the ingredients for the stuffing. Was there thyme? Rosemary? When did she start talking about the ingredients? Auntie sent you the video via social media so there’s no closed captions and certainly no transcript. Your only choice is to start the video all over again (or call your dear aunt, who tends to be a bit long-winded).

This is the experience consumers and students alike experience when supplemental materials such as closed captioning or transcripts are not provided with videos. Yet with budget cuts and expanding job duties, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to provide these materials. Web-based services can cost upwards of $1 a minute to provide closed captioning or transcription (1). And your people are already working with strict timelines, so quick and accurate turnaround is essential.

This session will provide you with the process and tools to create closed captions and transcripts with zero dollars in a fraction of the time. Demonstrations will be provided throughout, however, participants will benefit most by actively engaging in this process with their own laptop or tablet.

Whether an individual has a disability, difficulty maintaining focus, or needs an efficient study guide, closed captions and transcripts provide assistance in accuracy, comprehension, retention, and engagement (Linder, 2016). Quality Matters (2014), a leader in outlining crucial components in online courses, designates the affordance of alternatives to non-text content as one of the five criteria in Standard 8: Accessibility and Usability in their QM Rubric. In addition, the World Wide Consortium (2008) identifies alternatives to non-text content in their Web Content Accessibility Guidelines as a method for leveling the playing field for all learners through the Universal Design for Learning framework (UDL on Campus, n.d.). These requirements establish the necessity of supplemental materials for videos in online learning as well as other customer-facing materials.

This session will begin with a discussion of the difference between closed captions and transcripts. Participants will brainstorm the benefits of closed captions and transcripts within their institution and/or industry and results will be shared using Mentimeter.

Once participants establish needs related to their own institution or industry, YouTube will be introduced as a free solution to create closed captions and transcriptions. A demonstration of efficient approaches to the generation of closed captions in YouTube will be provided. Participants will follow along, editing closed captions in their own YouTube video. Guidance on setting up a YouTube account as well as uploading a video will be provided to those in need. In some cases, a group of individuals may work on videos and supplementary materials together, such as the partnership between faculty and instructional designer. YouTube offers managed accounts which can be used in such partnerships. Specific instructions to set up YouTube managed accounts will be provided.  

YouTube allows users to download closed captions as an SRT file.  Unfortunately, SRT files come with time stamps, spaces, and other unwanted elements which can take a massive amount of time to remove manually. Fortunately, there are free tools available which can help speed up this process. The use of Subtitle Edit and a web-based SRT to text converter will remove these unwanted items. There are advantages and disadvantages to both converters, which will be illuminated when participants run their SRT files through the programs. Advantages and disadvantages will be tabulated via Mentimeter. At the culmination of this discussion, participants will walk away with a free, efficient method for closed captions and transcripts attuned to their specific needs.

1. Captioning and transcription cost taken from, an on-demand service which touts 99% accuracy due to their use of people to transcribe, rather than artificial intelligence.

Linder, K. (2016). Student uses and perceptions of closed captions and transcripts: Results from a national study. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University Ecampus Research Unit. Retrieved from 

Quality Matters. (2014). Quality Matters Higher Education Rubric Workbook: Design Standards for Online and Blended Courses (5th ed.). Annapolis, MD: MarylandOnline, Inc.

UDL on Campus. (n.d.). Legal Obligations for Accessibility: Background Information. Retrieved from

World Wide Consortium (W3C). (2008). Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. Retrieved from