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Using captions to make your videos accessible and memorable

Using captions in your videos benefits everyone by:

  • Improving attention and recall
  • Increasing comprehension for non-native English speakers
  • Making videos accessible for people who are deaf or hard of hearing
  • Allowing for viewing in quiet or loud environments

What kind of captions are in my video download?

Captions embedded in videos

The first video you’ll see in your download has captions embedded or burned into the video. These are hard-coded and cannot be edited by you, and the words won’t be picked up by a screen reader or closed captioning. Because of that, this option doesn’t allow the viewer to turn the captions off. These are useful for live presentations, or instances where the video player you’re using doesn’t have the option to use closed captions, so the video will display the hard-coded captions in English.

Captions in an SRT file

The second video in your download comes without hard-coded captions, and it includes a separate side-car file with the captions. This is called an SRT file, and it’s great for when you’re using a video player that supports closed captions. It can also be translated and used as subtitles in other languages. This gives you more flexibility and options to make your video more accessible to a wider audience. We’ll go over how to use the SRT file in the sections below.

What is an SRT file?

An SRT is a text file that includes timestamps that align with the timing of the audio and visuals of a video. It’s not a video or audio file, but some video or multimedia players allow you to upload this text file in addition to your video and display the text over the video (i.e., “closed captions”).

Video players that are compatible with SRT files

Media players like Windows Media Player or VLC

Not every media player supports SRT files for closed captions (QuickTime uses a different file format) but two common softwares that do are Windows Media Player and VLC. 

The two main things you need to get your captions to work with these media players:

  • The SRT file needs to be saved in the same folder as your video mp4
  • The SRT file needs to be named the same as your video mp4 (we’ve already done that for you, so if you change the video file name, just make sure you keep them both consistent!)

To play the video with captions:

  • Right-click and play the video with the media player of your choice
  • If the subtitles aren’t automatically recognized, go to the settings for subtitles or captions and check if the subtitles are on.
  • Check out this tutorial if you want to read more detailed instructions on turning on captions for either VLC or Windows Media player (and others).

Online video platforms like YouTube, Vimeo, Wistia, etc.

Upload the SRT file onto your video through the platform. There should be an option or settings in the same place you uploaded your video. If you want to read more detailed instructions for a particular platform check out these guides on their customer support pages:

PRO TIP: If you’re presenting the video live, be sure to turn on the captions in the display settings before playing the video!

How can I display captions in different languages?

Using the video and separate SRT file gives you options for translating subtitles into different languages.

Translating SRT files

Whether you decide to use an internal translator or a translation service, you can translate the SRT file directly by using any basic text editor, e.g., WordPad or Text Edit. Just make sure you keep the timestamps and formatting intact (here’s a guide on the formatting). 

When you’re ready to use the translated SRT file, save the file in the same folder as the video (and make sure it has the same title). Then, you’re ready to play the video with captions using the translated SRT file!

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