Making learning materials more accessible for students

We have enabled functionality in Mediasite that will automatically add subtitles (also known as closed captions or subtitles) to recordings. Adding captions to these recordings will become law in September 2020 as part of the new Web Accessibility legislation, and this aligns closely with our inclusive teaching practice strategy. Captions are essential for accessibility for some students, but they also help all learners navigate content more easily.

Recent research on closed captions showed that:

  • 98.6% of students found captions helpful;
  • 75% of all students who use captions use them as a learning aid;
  • The top reason why students use captions was to help them focus on video content.

Get involved

If you are a member of the teaching staff using Mediasite to provide learning materials to your students, please enable captions on your content.

What you need to do

This is a new area of activity, and speech-to-text technology is still developing, particularly for large-scale automated captioning. We know that high-quality captions are most likely to be produced from clear speech and high-quality audio recordings, but even in the best situations, captions will not be perfect. The feedback that we gather from staff and students will help us to define any necessary improvements and provide useful advice and guidance for staff and students.

What happens next?

We will be rolling out automated captions on all scheduled lecture capture recordings in September 2020. You will not have to send recordings for captioning, but you will be able to edit and amend captions before they are published to students. We will be introducing thresholds for publication of captions so that if they are poor quality they won’t be made available to students.

We have produced guidance for students to help them use the captions in the most effective way. There is also advice on how to look for mistakes generated by automated captions, and how to check captions for accuracy. Have a look at this FAQ for guidance.

Please share this guide with your students if you publish captions on your recordings.


Why does my Mediasite content need captions?

Our drive to produce captions for audio video recordings is part of our inclusive teaching practice strategy. Captions for audio video recordings help to improve engagement and are an essential resource for some students. We are also required to provide captions on video recordings as part of the new Web Accessibility legislation, which comes into force in September 2020.

How do I send my recordings to be captioned?

Please see instructions on the IT knowledge base.

How accurate are the captions?

Captions will be created automatically by a machine and will contain mistakes. The accuracy of the captions produced will depend on the ability of the machine to understand the voice of the presenter and the quality of the audio available.

Will someone be checking captions on my lecture?

As over 40,000 hours of lecture videos are produced each year, we are not able to check all captions which are automated. It will be possible for you to edit subtitles from your recordings but this will be time consuming.

Can I edit my lecture once it has been sent to be captioned?

Yes, but it is important to remember that you would also need to edit the captions. Best practice if you are aware you will be editing your lecture is to hold off on sending lecture to be captioned.

Can I opt out of having my lectures captioned?

While this pilot is ongoing it is not mandatory to send your lectures for captioning however we encourage you to get involved with this project as our main drive is to improve engagement and provide students with a more flexible and inclusive learning experience.

Though it is not currently compulsory, by September 2020 it will be a legal requirement in compliance with the EU Web Accessibility legislation and getting involved with the pilot now will help towards a smoother transition in the future.

Our aim is to work with you and make this process as seamless as possible, with your feedback from this pilot we can work together to make sure create an easy and straightforward process

Can I download the captions as a transcript?

Yes, you can download a transcript if you are the owner of the content. Please visit the IT Knowledge Base for more information and instructions.

It is important to remember that these transcripts may not be 100% accurate and we recommend that you check them before sending out to students or using as a learning resource.

Can I edit captions which are returned inaccurate?

Yes, please see the IT knowledge base for instructions on this.

How quickly will captions appear on a lecture?

It will take on average 24 hours for your captions to appear on a lecture once it has been published.