Key terms and definitions

Captions, transcripts, and subtitles

Captions are a time synchronized, verbatim transcript file that accurately matches the audio in a recorded video and paired with the video file through a media player. Captions not only include the spoken word, but also relevant sound effects and other audio components that convey the full context of the video.  

Transcripts are a verbatim text version of the audio presented. They are not time synchronized.

Subtitles are a translation of content into different languages. Subtitles assume the viewer cannot understand the language being spoken. In the UK and Europe, the terms “subtitles” and “captions” are used interchangeably.

Open vs. closed captioning

Open captions are embedded in the video itself and displayed for all viewers. Closed captions are integrated with the video, but can be turned on or off by the viewer.

Open captions pros and cons

  • Required for platforms that don’t support closed captioning, such as Instagram and TikTok
  • Editor adds the captions to the video file, giving the editor control over how and where captions displayed
  • Cannot be translated
  • Cannot be turned off by the viewer
  • Scale according to video size and quality, so small videos may be hard to read

Closed captions pros and cons

  • Supported by most platforms, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Vimeo and YouTube
  • Uploaded as a separate file
  • Easiest to implement for the editor
  • May be customized by the viewer on some platforms
  • Can be translated
  • Can be turned on or off by the viewer
  • Not offered by all platforms/media players support, such as Instagram and TikTok
Live captioning vs. post-production captioning

Live Captioning is captioning that occurs at the time of the event. 

Post-Production Captioning is captioning that occurs after the event has been recorded. 

Onsite vs. remote captioning

Onsite captioning

  • An onsite captionist hired attends class/event with the individual needing the accommodation. Captions can be provided to the individual themselves or can be projected to one or more monitors on stage.
  • Onsite captionist are expected to introduce themselves to lead presenter.
  • In a classroom setting, the onsite captionist would not interact with classroom discussion, however, they may facilitate communication between faculty and the student.

Remote captioning

  • Services are provided through a remote connection, over the internet.
  • If class or event is held using a video conferencing platform (i.e., Zoom) a captionist will be assigned to caption by the host.
  • If class or event is held in-person, a Bluetooth microphone and a phone/tablet/laptop is used to connect with the remote captionist.