Captioning Policy


This policy strives to align with the Worldwide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines version 2.1, Level AA Conformance (WCAG 2.1 Level AA).

Benefits of Captions

Adding captions and/or transcripts to audio and video makes it possible for diverse audiences to view or listen to content on Bowdoin websites.

This includes:

  • People who are deaf or have a hard time hearing
  • People for whom English is a second language
  • People in noisy environments
  • People in quiet environments where they cannot use audio
  • People who learn better by reading, listening, and seeing
  • People who are consuming information on mobile devices

Elements of Quality Captioning (as listed by DCMP)

High-quality captions include accurate transcription, proper punctuation, speaker identification, and the identification of sounds other than speech.

  • Accurate: Errorless captions are the goal for each production.
  • Consistent: Uniformity in style and presentation of all captioning features.
  • Clear: A complete textual representation of the audio, including speaker identification and nonspeech information, provides clarity.
  • Readable: Captions are displayed with enough time to be read completely, are in synchronization with the audio, and are not obscured by (nor do they obscure) the visual content.
  • Equal: Equal access requires that the meaning and intention of the material is completely preserved.


  • Closed Captions: Closed captions exist as a separate file from the actual video. Usually identified by a CC symbol, they allow the viewer to switch captions on or off while viewing.
  • Open Captions: Open captions are burned into the video so they are always on and the viewer cannot turn them off.
  • Transcripts: Transcripts are a text file version of the video or audio file.

Requirements for Captions

Bowdoin Websites

WCAG 2.0 Guideline 1.2.2—"Captions are provided for all prerecorded audio content in synchronized media, except when the media is a media alternative for text and is clearly labeled as such."

Beginning July 1, 2020, all videos shared, embedded, or linked from Bowdoin-managed third-party channels on public-facing Bowdoin websites must include synchronized closed captions.

Transcripts must accompany audio files, such as podcasts or interviews.

Video must be captioned upon upload if placed publicly on a Bowdoin website. Captions should be in a manner consistent with industry standards at an accuracy rate equal to 99 percent or better.

Video shared, embedded, or linked from externally owned (non-Bowdoin) third-party channels on Bowdoin websites should strive to include synchronized closed captions from the creator/owner of the video content.

Auto-generated captions by platforms like YouTube and Facebook are improving, but they do not meet the standard and are not recommended without editing for accuracy and correction for videos embedded on a public Bowdoin website.


A Bowdoin website includes any public-facing website that makes use of the domain. This includes third-level domains.

Third-Party Applications

WCAG 2.0 Guideline 1.2.2—"Captions are provided for all prerecorded audio content in synchronized media, except when the media is a media alternative for text and is clearly labeled as such."

Bowdoin-managed channels on third-party platforms (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, iTunes, SoundCloud, Spotify, Panopto, etc.) fall under this policy, especially if the content is shared to, embedded, or linked on public-facing College websites. For third-party channels that can only use “open captions,” open captions must be used.


Bowdoin-managed – Accounts owned and managed by Bowdoin departments and/or listed on the social media directory.

Audio Captioning

WCAG 2.0 Guideline 1.2.1—"An alternative for time-based media is provided that presents equivalent information for prerecorded audio-only content.”

Audio recordings and podcasts embedded on Bowdoin websites or Bowdoin third-party channels must be accompanied by a full transcript. These transcripts must either be available on the same page as the audio player or linked directly to the transcript in the description text. Speakers should be identified within these transcripts.

Live Video Captioning

WCAG 2.0 Guideline 1.2.4 — Captions are provided for all live audio content in synchronized media.

Bowdoin events livestreamed at and on Bowdoin’s third-party channels will include live-typed captions through a third-party vendor and meet industry standards. In all cases where video of a live event is later posted to a Bowdoin website, videos must be captioned as required by this policy.

For smaller events for which video and/or audio are live-streamed over the internet, the College recommends that the hosting department offer in advance the opportunity for individuals with disabilities to request an accommodation.

Webinar meetings offered using Bowdoin-supported online meeting software will require the organizer to inquire if accommodations are required as part of the event setup.

Contact: Tony Sprague in the Office of Events and Summer Programs.

Video and Audio on Bowdoin Websites and Third-Party Applications Created Prior to July 1, 2020

Videos and audio files added to Bowdoin websites or Bowdoin-managed third-party channels prior to July 1, 2020, are not required to include captions and transcriptions. If you would like to add them, you may submit a request if this service is needed.

The turnaround time for captioning requests is five business days.

Bowdoin’s Mission of Inclusivity

Bowdoin believes that only through building a more diverse and inclusive campus community, will the College best prepare graduates to be contributing and useful citizens of the world.

This conviction begins with the first line in The Offer of the College. “To be at home in all lands and all ages…” expresses the value that every graduate of this institution should be confident in their preparation to be able to navigate through differences and in all sorts of situations.