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Captions in Zoom

The UW offers Zoom Video Conferencing for hosting meetings and webinars. Zoom provides multiple methods for captioning both live and recorded events. For additional background, see our Captions and Live captions pages.

Captions for live events

Zoom supports live captioning during meetings and webinars. This is available as an automated service using automatic speech recognition technology (Zoom refers to this as “live transcription”). This is now enabled by default for all UW Zoom meeting hosts. However, hosts need to enable it for individual meetings. To do so, simply click the “CC” button in Zoom, and select “Enable Auto-Transcription.”

Screenshot of captions popup menu in Zoom

For additional information on this feature, see Live Captioning (Machine Generated) in IT Connect or  Closed Captioning and Live Transcription in the Zoom Help Center.

Note that automatic captions are not currently accurate enough to serve as an accommodation for people who depend on captions. For people who require an accommodation, captions can be typed directly into Zoom or can be added to Zoom via an integration with a third-party software or service. Either of these options can be selected from the popup menu shown above.  For additional details, see Getting Started with Closed Captioning in the Zoom Help Center.

Third party captioning services can be arranged on behalf of faculty, staff, and students with disabilities by contacting either the UW Disability Services Office or Disability Resources for Students. For additional instructions on arranging for live captions as an accommodation, see the Outsourcing Live Captions section of our Live captions page.

Captions for recorded events

If a Zoom meeting or webinar is recorded and saved to the cloud, Zoom can generate captions for the archived video. This feature needs to be enabled before recording an  event. For information about this feature, see Using Audio Transcription for Cloud Recordings in the Zoom Help Center.

As with their live auto-transcription service, this feature uses automatic speech recognition technology, so is generally not accurate enough to serve as an accommodation for people who depend on captions. To attain a level of accuracy that is suitable for publication, you can either edit the automated captions in Zoom or download the video and caption it through other means. Both methods are described below.

Editing captions in Zoom

Zoom’s auto-captions can be edited directly within Zoom’s web portal. For instructions, see the Viewing and Editing the Saved Transcript section of Zoom’s Audio Transcription help page.

Captioning Zoom Recordings Outside of Zoom

If Zoom’s auto-captions are not accurate enough to be easily edited, it may be more cost-effective to download the MP4 video recording of the Zoom event and send that to a third-party captioning provider. For details, see the Outsourcing Captioning section of our Captions page.

Currently, Zoom does not support uploading caption files to replace their automated captions, so in order to make the recorded video available with updated captions, you would need to upload both the MP4 video and caption file elsewhere, such as YouTube or Vimeo.

You will also need to do this if you want to retain a recording longer than is allowed by the UW’s retention period for Zoom recordings. For additional information, see the UW Zoom Cloud Storage FAQ.