Closed Captioning

Closed captioning adds text to videos to make content accessible to those with hearing impairments. Any videos that are part of a class at NIU must be closed captioned. Whether you're an NIU student, faculty member or staff member, we can help with your closed captioning needs. We can also assist your department with digitizing and captioning media created at the university.

Your instructors are required to make sure that any videos they show as part of a class are closed captioned. The following steps will help you work with your professors to get the accommodations you need.

  1. Use priority registration to register for classes as early as possible.
  2. Email your professors. Explain your accommodation need for video captioning and ask if they will use any videos in their class.
  3. When they respond, act accordingly.
  • If they say yes, thank them and tell them the Disability Resource Center will contact them. Then email your case manager at the Disability Resource Center and the closed caption editor at ahendrix3@niu.edu, to tell them which class and professor is using videos.
  • If they say no, thank them and ask them to tell you if that changes in the future.
  • If they don't respond after one week, or if there is not a professor listed for your class, contact the Disability Resource Center. We will follow up with your professor.

Under federal law, NIU instructors are required to provide class materials to students with disabilities at the same time they provide materials to other students. As an instructor, you must make sure that any videos you show as part of class are accurately closed captioned. We will work with you to make sure your videos meet captioning requirements.

Checking Videos for Captioning

Videos from the NIU library: Check the video's page on the library website to see if it is closed captioned.

VHS/DVD/Blu-ray: Having subtitle options is not enough to ensure that captions meet federal accessibility standards. Look for the closed captioning (CC) logo at the bottom of the case.

Videos from streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, etc.): Having subtitle options is not enough to ensure that captions meet federal accessibility standards. Check in the subtitle options for "English CC" or "English for the hearing impaired."

Web-based videos (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.): Check for captioning when the video is playing. Many web-based videos have automatic captioning that is not accurate. Do not rely on automatic captioning.

Getting Videos Captioned

If you don't have a copy of the video, start by checking the NIU library for a copy. If they have one, see if it is captioned.

  • If so, check it out. We will not caption a video that the library already has available with captioning.
  • If not, let us know and we will have the library send it to us for captioning, after which you can check it out.

If the library doesn't have the video, you can request that they purchase a copy.

  • If it's available for purchase captioned, you can check it out as soon as they receive it.
  • If it's not available captioned, they will send it to us for captioning, after which you can check it out.

If you already have a copy of the video, there are different steps to take depending on the video type.

Videos You Personally Own

We can caption such videos, as long as there is not a captioned version available for purchase. If you give us a video to caption, please be aware that we are required to keep the original, uncaptioned video due to copyright restrictions, though we will return the case to you.

Videos Taped From Television

We are unable to caption such videos due to copyright restrictions. Check to see if the video is in the NIU library or if it can be rented or purchased already captioned.

Videos from Streaming Services (Netflix, Hulu, etc.)

Subtitles may be added with a Chrome extension. Permissions will be requested to install the extension. Service must be streamed from the device and browser with the extension. The caption file will be sent to the device to be uploaded.

Web-based Videos (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.)

You can request the addition of captions from the content creator or through a community access feature. Contact the content creator and ask them to either upload their transcript, or to allow and accept community requests so that we may send our own. If they don't respond, contact the closed caption editor at ahendrix3@niu.edu, for assistance.

Timeline Considerations

If you ask us to caption a video, we have to obtain approval from the copyright holder before we can begin. This can take six to eight weeks. Keep this in mind when selecting videos to show in class and plan accordingly.

We understand that you want to show the most relevant, up-to-date videos possible. If you find a video that you need us to caption in less than six to eight weeks, contact us to discuss options that fall under fair use.

NIU complies with the Illinois Information Technology Accessibility Act (IITAA), which provides guidelines for accessible web-based information. The guidelines address the need for multimedia content to be captioned. We are here to help make sure your department's videos are accessible. Upon request, we provide captioning for materials. We work on materials for students and in-classroom purposes first, then for out-of-classroom events, on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Please note: You are responsible for obtaining copyright approval for captioning of materials not intended for student use. By submitting a captioning request, you are agreeing that you, your department or the university owns copyright, or that you have obtained permission for us to caption the material.

Please contact us at ahendrix3@niu.edu if you have any questions about captioning or copyright.

Getting Videos Captioned

If you don't have a copy of the video, start by checking the NIU library for a copy. If they have one, see if it is captioned.

  • If so, check it out. We will not caption a video that the library already has available with captioning.
  • If not, let us know and we will have the library send it to us for captioning, after which you can check it out.

If the library doesn't have the video, you can request that they purchase a copy.

  • If it's available for purchase captioned, you can check it out as soon as they receive it.
  • If it's not available captioned, they will send it to us for captioning, after which you can check it out.

If you already have a copy of the video, there are different steps to take depending on the video type.

Videos You Personally Own

If the library doesn't already own a copy, we can caption a video you personally own, if it was purchased with a public performance/education license. You must first obtain permission from the copyright holder. Look at the video and case for copyright information and contact the holder. It can take six to eight weeks to obtain approval from the copyright holder before we can caption the video. Please plan accordingly.

Videos Taped from Television

We are unable to caption such videos due to copyright restrictions. Check to see if the video is in the NIU library or if it can be rented or purchased already captioned.

Videos You Created

We can caption such videos. If you used commercial material, including music, you must first obtain copyright approval, unless the material falls under fair use. We suggest using the fair use evaluator hosted by the American Library Association or contacting the Office of General Counsel for assistance.

Other Captioning Solutions

Many companies provide captioning services. We do not endorse any particular captioning vendor. Before you decide to work with a company, refer to these

You can also caption your own videos. For example, for YouTube videos, you can upload a transcript after you upload a video, and YouTube will sync them.

There are many captioning programs you can use. Learn more by exploring these resources:

We can help you learn about your captioning options. Contact us at ahendrix3@niu.edu to set up an appointment.

Digitizing Media

If you have media created at the university on VHS tapes, we can convert it to a digital format (electronic or DVD). Email us at ahendrix3@niu.edu to request digitization and captioning of your media. In your email, please include a few times you could drop your materials off at our office, located on the fourth floor of the Health Services Building.

You will need to provide the discs on which we will burn the media. We have a DVD printer, so if you would like the DVD information printed to the disc, please provide printable DVDs. Please keep in mind that media requiring both digitizing and captioning will take longer to process.

Please note: We cannot digitize copyrighted material that can be purchased on DVD. If you need assistance purchasing materials, talk to your department office or a library staff member.

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