5 Ways to Pay for Captioning With Grants and Funding

June 9, 2017 BY ELISA LEWIS
Updated: June 3, 2019

One issue that many online video producers face is how to pay for closed captioning. Many video producers in higher education, entertainment, and eLearning are required by law to caption their video content. Budgeting for this cost can help relieve the impact of adding closed captions, but many organizations look for outside sources to help fund captioning efforts.

Below, we have compiled some resources for grants and awards that can be applied to closed captioning. While some awards exist specifically for institutions of higher learning, there are creative ways to fund captions for other types of content and organizations, as well.

Federally Funded Grants from the U.S. Department of Education

The U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services is another great resource for grants and funding. You can check the Federal Register for information about captioning grants and applications.

The Educational Technology, Media, and Materials for Individuals with Disabilities Program (CFDA 84.327) provides millions of dollars in grants and awards. Grants are provided to support research and development of universal design technologies; funding is also available to support media-related activities, such as video description and captioning, for use in classrooms. The funding amount for this opportunity is $2.5 million, to be used over the course of 5 years. The award amount for the 2017 fiscal year was $500,000. You can view this announcement to better understand the eligibility and application requirements for the grants.

Consider Crowdfunding for Closed Captions

If you are not eligible for grants or funding, you might want to consider crowdfunding your captions. With several crowdfunding platforms available, people have raised money successfully for things from Exploding Kittens to the COOLEST Cooler. Why not try it for captioning? If you think your audience would support your closed captioning efforts, you can create a crowdfunding campaign to try to raise the money on sites like Kickstarter, Indigogo, and GoFundMe. You can set up perks for contributors, so your viewers will be more inclined to donate. Plus, by crowdfunding to raise money, you’ll be spreading awareness on the importance of captioning as well as the financial limitations of meeting these needs.

Federal Tax Credit for Providing Captioning

If your organization or business accommodates employees who are Deaf or hard of hearing, you may qualify for federal tax credits for providing captioning. Tax credits include Disabled Access Credit, Barrier Removal Tax Deduction, and Work Opportunity Tax Credit. The IRS has specific information about qualifying for federal tax credits.

The Distance Education Captioning and Transcription Grant for California Community Colleges

If you are a community college in California with distance education courses, you’re in luck – there is a grant specifically for you! The Distance Education Captioning and Transcription grant (DECT) is a progressive grant that “promotes and supports awareness of available funding” to encourage faculty to create media-rich, accessible distance learning courses. This grant ensures legal compliance, student accessibility, and course innovation for California Community Colleges (CCC).

DECT Eligibility

Any California Community College offering distance education classes are eligible for DECT funding. Qualifying projects for this grant include the following:

  • Online classes
  • Hybrid classes
  • On-campus classes with distance methods of content delivery
  • Digital learning object repositories for making digitized content available
  • Realtime captioning

Note that the DECT grant does not apply to community education services or continuing education courses. The DECT only covers apportionment generating classes–credit, non-credit, but not no-credit.

Get Reimbursed for Captioning

The DECT actually allows you to receive reimbursements for captioning with 3Play Media by following the steps below:

  1. Complete the Application and Agreement form and a vendor quote. DECT will indicate whether or not your request has been granted by providing you with a project number.
  2. Complete captioning and transcription with 3Play Media.
  3. Once you have paid for the captioning services, email the Request for Reimbursement-Payment Form to DECT along with a copy of the vendor’s invoice, a copy of the Purchase Order and/or contract, and a copy of the Applicant District’s payment check.
  4. At the end of the semester, fill out an End of Term Report so DECT can track the outcome of the funding.

Private Foundations, Corporations, and Individuals

If all else fails, consider reaching out to private foundations, corporations, and individuals to help you fund your closed captioning efforts. Closed captions for broadcast are often funded by private institutions, so there is no reason that online video captions shouldn’t be, either.


This post was originally published on August 21, 2014 by Lily Bond as “Sources of Grants and Funding for Closed Captioning of Online Video,” and has been updated.


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