Effective June 30, 2022, Tufts University has adopted a Captioning Policy in order to ensure that Tufts multimedia digital content is accessible to individuals with disabilities. The policy requires that:

  • Video content published after the effective date of the policy must be captioned.
  • Editing of automatic captions for accuracy is highly recommended.
  • Synchronous meetings and classes (Zoom, Teams, Google Meet, etc.) must have automatic live captions enabled.
  • Audiovisual materials with high public visibility should use professional captioning services in order to ensure that captions are high quality.

In addition to the D/deaf and hard-of-hearing, captions benefit a broader audience including:

  • People with various learning, memory, or attention disorders who rely on captions as an learning/comprehension aid.
  • English-language learners.
  • Students who may have difficult understanding instructors who are not native-English speakers or who may have unfamiliar accents.
  • Anyone in a loud or quiet environment.

Automatic Captioning/Machine Captioning

Captions that are created using text-to-speech (also known as automatic speech recognition) technology. While this technology is constantly improving, automatic captions rarely have an accuracy rate that would meet minimum quality standards of accuracy, legibility, completeness, and synchronization. They will often require editing for word recognition errors, capitalization, and punctuation. Automatic captions only transcribe spoken audio content and do not include other relevant sounds such as (applause), (laughter), (door bell ringing), etc.

Closed Captions

Captions that can be turned on or off by the user in the video player. Closed captions often appear at the bottom of the screen, and must accurately reflect the spoken dialog as well as other relevant audible content such as (lively music), (applause), (laughter), etc.

Live Captions/Real-time Captioning(CART)

Live captions are captions that are produced in real time, either by a professional transcriptionist or using automatic speech recognition technology.


Subtitles differ from captions in that subtitles only reflect the spoken dialog and do not include other relevant audio content. They are primarily for translation purposes.


Transcripts generally include only the spoken audio content. They are usually used for audio-only content like podcasts, however occasionally you will see a transcript option that accompanies video content.  Note that while a transcript alone is sufficient to meet WCAG 2.1 A/AA standards for audio-only content, the presence of a transcript with video content is not a substitute for synchronized captions.



Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1

Success Criterion 1.2: Time-Based Media (Level A and AA) provides standards for the captioning of pre-recorded media and live events, both in-person and virtual. These standards are intended to ensure that people who are D/deaf or hard-of-hearing will be able to access the auditory information being communicated. Captions provide access to spoken dialog, identify speakers, and include non-spoken information conveyed through sound.

Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP)

Funded by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Association of the Deaf, the DCMP provides guidelines for good quality captions. Known as the DCMP Captioning Key, this set of guidelines covers how to caption dialog, sound effects and music, how to deal with speaker identification, numbers and other special formatting, and provides a comprehensive listing of captioning vendors.

The Tufts Captioning Policy requires that if you have videos with high public visibility, you should use professional captioning services in order to ensure that captions are high quality. 


Professional captioning can cost upwards of $2.00/minute. Payment arrangements for closed captions or live captioning services are the responsibility of the department/college/unit, except in the following cases:

  1. Educational Technologies Services handles professional captions for all online and hybrid courses offered through Tufts Online.
  2. If a student has a documented accommodation need that requires professional captioning, the StAAR Center can work with the instructor to make arrangements for that service.

Captioning Vendors

There are many reputable captioning vendors, including Cielo24, Automatic Sync Technologies,, and 3Play Media. The DCMP Captioning Key provides a comprehensive list of Captioning Service Vendors.

Caption Files

It is important to note that when you request captions from a professional caption service you may be asked what format you need. Some caption vendors will provide you with multiple formats, but in case they ask you should review the documentation in your video hosting platform (YouTube, Vimeo, Canvas, etc.) to find out what caption file formats are required.

In most cases, compliance with the Tufts Captioning Policy can be achieved by taking advantage of the built-in automatic captioning capabilities of the platform you are using. Please note that automatic captions applied to video recordings will always need to be edited for accuracy.

Canvas/MyMedia (Kaltura) Recordings

Canvas/Echo360 Recordings

Zoom Recordings and Live Transcription

Teams Live Transcription

YouTube Recordings