When is captioned media required?
Colleges and universities must ensure media is accessible to deaf individuals whether it is media for coursework (supplementary or required), videos posted on the institution’s website or social media, or other materials such as those available through the campus library. This also includes videos used for educational purposes that are not captioned by the original production company. Many institutions are creating proactive policies to captioning media to avoid delays in access for deaf students as well as to support all students in universal design.
What if a video is copyrighted, can I caption it for educational use?
“Fair use” is a legal stipulation that allows copyrighted materials to be captioned without direct permission from the owner. When a video is not captioned but needs to be for educational purposes, captioning the video is generally considered fair use.
The U.S. Copyright Office’s final ruling (83 FR 54010) outlines the ability for educational institutions to caption a video that may be copyrighted under the following conditions:
- The organization must be a K-12 or postsecondary institution and is responsible for providing access to students with disabilities under applicable accessibility laws (i.e., ADA, Section 504, or IDEA).
- The school must make a reasonable effort to determine whether an existing accessible version can be obtained for a fair price or in a timely manner.
- The media captioned by or for the school must be privately stored and only shared with necessary parties such as students and educators. Uploading captioned versions to a private YouTube channel or embed in the Learning Management System (LMS) are examples of ways to secure a video.
How do I make a DVD accessible when it is not captioned?
Some strategies institutions use to create captions for existing copies of DVDs is to use a digital converter program where you can rip the DVD into a video file format that can be captioned in-house or by a vendor. Another option to consider using screen recording software to create a digital file of the DVD to be captioned.
Are publishers responsible for captioning their video content?
According to the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), producers of audiovisual materials (such as DVDs) are generally not required to caption their products. However, when used as part of an educational program, the school would be responsible for ensuring videos are accessible to deaf students.
Are there requirements for videos on the internet to be captioned?
There are scenarios related to videos available on the internet that are important to consider. Recent settlements (NAD v. Harvard & NAD v. MIT) emphasizes that an institution’s website is considered public space and should include captioned videos. (See The Significance of Harvard’s Settlement on Video Accessibility) Streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and others must ensure their video content is accessible to deaf people. (See NAD v. Netflix) Another example would be the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) states that any television programming aired with captions on TV would also be required to be captioned if displayed on the internet.
Copyright and Captioning for Accessibility Resources
- U.S. Copyright Federal Register Final Ruling 83 FR 54010
- Briefing: Accessibility, the Chafee Amendment, and Fair Use
- Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians
- How Copyright and Fair Use Impact Third Party Captioning for Educational Video
Captioning Videos and Web Accessibility Case Law:
- Equitable Access Guide (EAG): Section 8: Online Accessibility
- NAD v. Harvard Consent Decree
- NAD v. MIT Consent Decree
- Office for Civil Rights Letter of Finding: University of California Berkeley
- Office for Civil Rights Letter to Boyd-Scotland
- OCR Letter of Finding to the University of Cincinnati
- OCR Letter of Finding to Denmark Technical College
- National Association of the Deaf et al. v. Netflix