Eric Stoller's blog

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Adding captions to YouTube videos

8 comments



I used to be a huge fan of Vimeo. Their user interface and HD video capability is top notch. Unfortunately, Vimeo has decided that accessibility is not a priority. 8 days ago on the Vimeo forums, the topic of accessibility via closed captions / subtitles was added to the Vimeo Community Forums – Feature Request section. Vimeo’s response to this request was extremely saddening:

We have a lot of higher priority features in the cue right now, and when we find the appropriate time, we will definitely look into offer CC support.

Vimeo is telling its community that users with hearing impairments do not matter.

Thankfully, YouTube has now made it very easy to add captions to videos. In fact, YouTube allows for HD uploads, accessible videos and better uptime than Vimeo.

It’s really easy to add captions / subtitles to a YouTube video using dotSUB:

My student web coordinator added captions to this video in a few hours using dotSUB:

The previous iteration of that video was uploaded without captions to Vimeo. That video might look great, but if you can’t hear, it’s not accessible.

A lot of higher education institutions have university portals on YouTube. Unfortunately, most do not caption their videos.

While OSU has not yet captioned all of the YouTube videos on their site, at least one of the videos was captioned using dotSUB:

  • http://Vimeo.com Blake Whitman

    Hey Eric,

    I thought I would respond here as I believe there may be a misunderstanding regarding our intentions. We care a great deal about closed captioning and we fully intend to provide such support as soon as we can assign developers to the project. While YouTube has large staff and ample resources, we are a small and dedicated team that works tirelessly to meet all of our users’ needs. We did not mean to offend you or anyone else who would like to see CC support on Vimeo, and we will develop a closed captioning system as soon as we are able to. We apologize for the wait.

    Blake Whitman
    Director of Community – Vimeo.com

  • http://ulife.gmu.edu Michael Galvin

    thanks for the great info Eric. I’ve been fighting with DocSoft for nearly a year. can’t wait to try it.

  • James

    @ Blake:

    I hate to be confrontational but how are:

    We have a lot of higher priority features in the cue right now, and when we find the appropriate time, we will definitely look into offer CC support.

    and

    We care a great deal about closed captioning and we fully intend to provide such support as soon as we can assign developers to the project.

    any different?

    If Vimeo cared that much about accessibility, you’d assign developers to the task immediately NOT as soon as you are able. They’re your developers, you pay them. You assign them when you decide it’s necessary.

    I look forward to Vimeo deciding that it is able to serve its hearing impaired users.

  • Pingback: Vimeo and closed captioning » Eric Stoller’s Blog()

  • deaf user

    Blake Whitman:

    Do you realize that there are 40 million of deaf and hard of hearing users in USA only? Also, studies by COAT show that 100+ million people would benefit from captions and it is not just deaf and hoh, but also non-native speakers of English, adults and children learning to read, etc.

    Not just that, there are disability laws (ADA, Seciton 508, etc.) and W3C Priority 1 requirements that all audio components of media are REQUIRED to be coupled with text versions. It does not matter what size the staff is. You can find different ways to make videos accessible.

    By putting off the priority for this important issue you are doing disservice to many people like myself. We have enough dealing with attitudes of hearing people EVERY DAY on top of regular problems, and we do not need additional problems with convincing ignorant people like yourself to get media transcribed. How would you feel if yourself or someone in family wakes up with hearing loss? I hope you think twice before making up excuses about how small your team is.

    Your action did offend us and if you are truly sorry, please make up for us by changing your attitude and actually make your efforts to enable captioning in your videos.

    Thank you.

  • Medici

    YouTube’s CC feature isn’t all that great. There is still no way to upload .srt files. Should be pretty basic.

  • http://ericstoller.com/blog/ Eric Stoller

    That’s not really true. We’ve created .srt files via dotSub and then uploaded them to our YouTube videos.

    Here is YouTube’s FAQ on adding captions:
    http://www.google.com/support/youtube/bin/answer.py?answer=100077

    The main hindrance to captioning is that you cannot create captions from within YouTube. It’s a minor issue though…

  • Medici

    Woah, really? Thanks, Eric! I’m a serious video nerd, so I do all my subs in .srt. I’d better check out your link. Then it’s off to fight for equal rights!

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