Student Support

Captioning Requirements FAQ


Captioning Requirements FAQ

Does all the multimedia I show in the classroom, and/or post online for my students have to be captioned?

  • If there is a D/deaf/Hard of Hearing* student in a class, yes.

  • If there is no D/deaf/Hard of Hearing student in a class and multimedia resources are used in more than one semester, yes.

Some Subtleties

  • If there is no D/deaf/Hard of Hearing student in a class, and the multimedia material is only for the current semester (e.g., YouTube current event), the multimedia does not have to be captioned.

  • There is no need to caption if the material is student work submitted only to the professor that will not be archived for future semesters or shared among other students for peer review.

  • There is no need to caption longer works if clips are pulled from them. Compile (or have DSPS compile) the clips into a montage and have the montage captioned.

  • If the video already has foreign language subtitles, do not caption unless requested to do so as an accommodation.

*“D/d” is an inclusive label. The term “Deaf” with a capital “D” is typically used for individuals who consider themselves part of the Deaf community and Deaf culture. The term “deaf” with a lower case “d” is typically used for individuals who may be clinically deaf but do not consider themselves part of the Deaf community.

Do Student Multimedia Assignments need to be captioned?

  • Yes, if the student work will be shared among the students or used by the professor as an instructional resource in future semester.

  • No, if the student work is submitted only to the professor and will not be archived for future semesters.

  • Refer to the section Student Captioning.

Under what circumstances can I show uncaptioned multimedia resources to my class which includes a student who is D/deaf/Hard of Hearing?

None. You must comply and ensure captioning is provided.

Can I wait and deal with captioning after Disabled Student Services informs me that a student who is D/deaf/Hard of Hearing is in my class?

The short answer is, “No.” Here is the explanation:

To help ensure D/deaf/Hard of Hearing students receive appropriate accommodations, Denise Henninger, ​Supervisor, D/deaf/Hard of Hearing Services, (x4497) will notify professors by email before the start of each semester if there is a D/deaf/Hard of Hearing student enrolled in one of their courses. She will send out the email as soon as students request services and/or identify themselves to DSPS. This is not a perfect process as D/deaf/Hard of Hearing students, just like any other students, can add courses late or crash courses. Additionally, D/deaf/Hard of Hearing students who add distance education courses may not inform DSPS since they will not need to arrange for interpreters or real-time captioning as they would for on-ground courses.

Keep in mind that such ad hoc captioning to accommodate individual students cannot legally be SMC’s approach. The legal mandate is to purchase/create captioned multimedia so every D/deaf/Hard of Hearing student (whether they have identified themselves to DSPS or not) has timely, equal access to our multimedia resources. Waiting until a D/deaf/Hard of Hearing student enrolls in a class to caption is risky as captioning is a time-consuming task. If faculty have a deaf/hard-of-hearing student in their classes and their multimedia is not captioned, the multimedia cannot be shown at all.

What happens if we do not provide D/deaf/Hard of Hearing students timely access to captioned multimedia?

Students with disabilities who believe they have not been provided the appropriate accommodations to which they are legally entitled may sue SMC and/or the faculty/staff members involved. Students can also file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights. If the Office of Civil Rights comes to SMC to investigate a complaint, every aspect of accessibility will be scrutinized in addition to the complaint.

What about audio-only files like podcasts?

The same principles apply to creating transcripts for audio files as for creating captioned multimedia like videos and DVDs.

Is a transcript an adequate accommodation for multimedia like videos and DVDs?

No. The appropriate access strategy for multimedia is synchronous captions.

Do I have to create my own transcripts?

No, but if you can create or obtain transcripts, the captioning process is significantly expedited. Most of the time-consuming work lies in generating the transcripts.

Do I have to create my own captioning?

Adding captions to multimedia instructional materials is Santa Monica College’s legal responsibility. However, faculty are not required to do the actual captioning. Refer to the Submitting Captioning Requests section below for information on submitting your multimedia to be captioned.

SMC has resources for captioning multimedia media, it is strongly recommended that faculty create their own captions when using multimedia creation software that facilitates creating captions (e.g., Camtasia, Articulate). If support is needed in creating captions for any type of multimedia, contact Elena Throckmorton, x4267 or Aaron French, x8934.

Do publishers have to caption their multimedia resources?

Given the federal mandate for colleges to adopt captioned instructional materials, multimedia publisher content should be captioned. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. It is critical that you inquire about captioned multimedia before adopting publisher content. If there is no captioned multimedia publisher resources that meet your needs, notify Christine Miller, x3765, Elena Throckmorton, x4267, or Aaron French, x8934 immediately to ensure resources are captioned ASAP.

Refer to Instructional Resource Adoptions for more information on communicating with publishers about accessibility.

Submitting Captioning Requests


Request captioned multimedia as soon as multimedia is chosen for a course. Creating captions and transcripts can be a time-consuming process. Making your captioning and transcription needs known as soon as possible will eliminate last-minute scrambling to provide accommodations. If faculty have a D/deaf/Hard of Hearing student in their classes and their multimedia is NOT captioned, the multimedia cannot be shown or assigned. If faculty have a D/deaf/Hard of Hearing student in their classes links to non-captioned multimedia need to be de-activated.

Before Requesting

  • Check to see if the content is already captioned. Getting the captions to show can sometimes be challenging. Feel free to contact Elena Throckmorton, x4267, Aaron French, x8934, or Christine Miller, x3765 to be added to the 3CMedia Solutions SMC group account.

  • If a YouTube video with either no captions or poor auto captions is used, try using the filter feature to find a video with the equivalent information that is already captioned.

    Directions on Accessing YouTube’s Filter

    1. Initiate a YouTube search by typing keywords in the YouTube search box and pressing Enter.

    2. Once your search results are displayed, click the Filter button located towards the top of the YouTube window.
      Filter Button

    3. Click the CC (closed caption) option within the Filter group.

      Video on YouTube’s Filter Feature

Requesting Captioning

  • If captions or transcripts are needed for content posted within Canvas, contact Christine Miller, Distance Education, x3765. Refer also to the questions in the Canvas FAQ that apply to multimedia and other aspects of accessibility including What about Media Storage? This covers our opportunity to use 3C Media to store and caption our online videos.

  • To include multimedia within webpages, contact Paul Trautwein, Web Coordinator, x4204.

  • For all other captioning needs, contact Elena Throckmorton, x4267 or Aaron French, x8934.

Showing Captioned Media in SMC Classrooms


When using projectors, decoder technology makes it possible to display closed captions. Newer projectors have built-in CC decoder chips. All the SMC smart classrooms, as well as the mobile carts available for checkout from the Media Center, have projectors with the built-in decoders.

The CC decoder chips can be activated with the unit remote control or the CC button on the controller. If your classroom does not have a remote control unit or a CC button on the controller, contact Media Services, x4352.

Some older carts stored within departments may have older projectors which would require using an external decoder to display closed captions. If you are using one of these older projectors, please contact Media Services (x4352) for support in connecting an external decoder.

Please note that displaying subtitles does not require a decoder.


There are many variables in making closed captions appear properly when playing DVDs. It is strongly recommended that captioned DVD be tested in the classroom before showing it in class. For questions, contact Elena Throckmorton, x4267. If she is not available, contact Aaron French, x8934.

Student Captioning

Multimedia submitted by students for peer review must be captioned if there is a D/deaf/Hard of Hearing student in the course. Contact Elena Throckmorton, x4267 or Aaron French, x8934 about options for getting student work captioned. A good option, consistent with principles of universal design and general media literacy, is to have students caption their own work. Links to no-cost options with captioning directions will be available here shortly.

Additional Resources on Captioning

WebAIM Captions, Transcripts, and Audio Descriptions