Study Highlights: Implementation of and Solutions for Closed Captioning in US Institutions of Higher Education

February 13, 2018 BY ELISA LEWIS
Updated: February 10, 2021

Most colleges and universities in the US are legally required to provide closed captioning on many of their videos. Despite the laws, many institutions of higher education struggle to implement closed captioning practices.

The national research study, Implementation of and Solutions for Closed Captioning in U.S. Institutions of Higher Education looks at the captioning processes of 47 institutions of higher education across the US.

In the below video, Katie Linder from the Oregon State University Ecampus Research Unit, shares the results of the study, which was conducted collaboratively with 3Play Media. This blog post recaps several of the key points highlighted in the video.


What are the motivations for captioning on campus?

We learned in this study that most of the institutions are implementing closed captioning for at least some videos. The top three motivations for implementation of closed captions are to be in compliance with the law, to avoid potential litigation, and in response to accommodation requests.

Legal compliance 1, Avoiding litigation 2, accommodation requests 3. Are the top three motivations for implementation of closed captions


While 87% of respondents said their institutions are captioning at least some of their videos, the majority of respondents answered that their institutions are implementing closed captioning reactively rather than proactively. In addition, 52.6% people noted that their institutions are not monitoring closed captioning compliance.

What are the main barriers to captioning implementation?

There seems to be a significant discrepancy between the need for captioning and the implementation of captioning. This research study aims to better understand the most common barriers to captioning at institutions of higher education. The four main barriers noted in our findings are a lack of general awareness, budget, inadequate staffing, and an unclear understanding of whose responsibility it is to caption. 55.3% of people voted that a lack of general awareness is an issue, elaborating that many faculty are unaware of services available, as well as standards and regulations. 48.9% of respondents cited a nonexistent budget as a major barrier to implementation. 46.8% of survey respondents selected inadequate staffing as a barrier, and another 46.8% selected that it’s unclear whose responsibility it is.

55.3% - lack of general awareness; 48.9% - budget; 46.8% - inadequate staffing; 46.8% - unclear whose responsibility it is.


When taking a closer look at captioning budgets as a barrier, we found that the largest number of those surveyed noted an institutional budget for closed captioning between $1-10,000. Almost half of respondents were unaware of their institutions’ captioning budget. 10.5% of respondents reported no captioning budget at all.

Partially filled piggy bank icons showing: 10.5% - $0; 18.4% - $1-10,000; 15.8% - $10,001-50,000; 5.3% - $50,001 - 100,000; 2.6& greater than $100,000; 47.4% - I don't know

The Takeaway

Many interesting and crucial findings were revealed in this study, leaving us with several opportunities for further research, and action. The main takeaway is that despite the legal obligation of institutions of higher education to provide closed captions, the implementation of this accessibility tool continues to be a significant challenge for many colleges and universities for a variety of reasons.

There seems to be a great deal of confusion about what the legal requirements around captioning videos actually means for these institutions. Clarification of the laws should be discussed within institutions to ensure a better understanding of what must be done proactively and reactively.

Additionally, many institutions cited compliance with the law as a major motivator to captioning, however few institutions had processes in place to measure compliance. A review and implementation of processes surrounding captioning would be beneficial for all involved.

To learn more about closed captioning in institutions of higher education download the infographic or read the full report!


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