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How to Make Your Videos Deaf/HOH Accessible

Unless you know me personally, you might not know that I’m learning ASL. A few months ago, I felt the urge to pick this back up again (I learned a fair bit in my middle school years when our church gained a deaf member and provided lessons to anyone wanting to learn to communicate with her). I looked online, and found that there are a lot of resources for learning these days! My favorite so far has been Bill Vicars’ YouTube Channel (open “Playlists” and find “ASL 1,” or click here for the first video).

And, because internet algorithms, after I started watching his videos, I came across more and more videos about the need for better accessibility. People who are deaf or HOH (Hard of Hearing) can do anything a hearing person can do except hear, but they face a lot of prejudices and assumptions that are just wrong. I encourage you to look up “Deaf Perspective” videos on YouTube, just watching a few of these is really eye-opening.

All that said: making videos accessible is not difficult, and it only takes a few minutes to make the captioning good. Here’s how to do it (if you want the instructional video version, it will be at the bottom of the page as soon as I have it uploaded):

To get started, open up your video manager (you can reach this by going to your channel and clicking “Creator Studio.”), and select “Videos.”


In your video list, find the video you want to caption. Click the dropdown arrow next to “Edit,” and click “Subtitles/CC.”


When your video loads, you’ll get a prompt box. Select the language you are speaking for the majority of the video (this is a captioning service, not a translator, so you must select the appropriate language for it to caption properly). If you’ll be using this language for all your new uploads, click the box for “Default for new uploads.” Then click “Set Language.”


After the prompt, your screen will look like the photo below (but obviously with your video…). Click the “English (Automatic)” box (or whatever language you selected previously).


At this stage, you can see the captions and where they fall on your video timeline (YouTube has done this very well; the captioning tracks along with the video nicely). To edit the script, you need to select “Edit” in the upper-right.


Now, get to editing! YouTube’s auto-generated captions are generally quite good, and I haven’t found terrible errors, but it does not capitalize or punctuate, and can make mistakes if you have a strong accent, your audio was unclear, or if you use unusual words (it wants to make my name JD instead of Jade, and changed my marker labels from “YR68” to “why are sixty-eight,” so be on the lookout for those kinds of errors). These kinds of errors might not seem like much, but they make for a distracting reading experience at best, and will lose you viewers at worst. Deaf and HOH viewers deserve the same quality viewing experience as hearing viewers, so take the time to make sure it’s easy to read and error-free.


Once you are satisfied with your edits, click “Publish Edits.”


And you’re done! Your captioning will be a available to anyone who clicks the “CC” box on the lower-right corner of your videos. Thank you for taking the time to make your videos more accessible to those who need it!

[Video coming soon!]

Thanks for reading!


One thought on “How to Make Your Videos Deaf/HOH Accessible

  1. I heart people who caption their videos, doubly so if they provide transcripts. This is especially true for longer videos. Captions are nice not just because they reduce the chance that I will misunderstand something, but also in that I don’t have to turn the volume up to hear better. I can turn it down! (This makes others in my house happy that they don’t have to listen to whatever I’m watching.)

    Liked by 1 person

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