Accessible Technology

Captioning Your Own Video for Free

NOTE: This page is about using free online tools to caption your videos. For information about UW-IT’s free captioning service, see UW-IT Captioning Service on the Creating Accessible Videos page.

You can caption your own videos using one of several free online tools, including:

The process for creating captions using each tool is approximately the same:

  1. Upload the video to the web (most services can caption any video as long as it has a public URL, including videos on YouTube). To keep the video private during the captioning process, don’t publish it’s URL (YouTube offers this as one of its privacy options).
  2. Provide the video’s URL to the captioning service. Some services also support uploading a video directly to their site.
  3. Use the service’s captioning tool to watch the video and transcribe it. Caption text is displayed in real time on the video as you type.
  4. Review and edit the captions to be sure they’re accurate and easy to follow. The Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP) provides a Captioning Key with guidelines for effective captioning.
  5. Download the captions as a caption file in the appropriate format for your needs.

The end product generated by this process is a caption file. Most caption files are plain text files with time codes indicating start and stop times for each caption. However, there are various types of caption files with slight variations in their syntax. The type of file you need depends on how your video is ultimately being provided. See the following section for links to pages that include this information.

How to Add Caption Files to Video

After you have a caption file, the final step is to add this file to your video. How you do this depends on where your video is hosted. For specific instructions, select one of the following options:

Note: It is important to host videos in a format and location that supports captions. Some media players and video hosting providers do not support captions at all. Ask whether captions are supported before choosing a media player or video hosting solution for your videos.