University of Vermont

Academic Success Programs

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Closed Captioning (CC)?

Closed captioning is the process of displaying text on a television, video screen, or other visual display to provide additional or interpretive information, allowing the viewer(s) to understand the dialogue and action of a program at the same time.

Closed captions were created to assist in comprehension for Deaf or Hard of Hearing viewers. Closed captions can also be used as a tool by those learning to read, learning to speak a non-native language, or in an environment where the audio is difficult to hear or is intentionally muted. Captions can also be used by viewers who simply wish to read a transcript along with the program audio.

What is the difference between open and closed captioning?

Closed captioning is a process of displaying text on a screen where specifically encoded text is placed onto video or other media for the benefit of Deaf or Hard of Hearing viewers.  Closed captioning can be turned on or off by the viewer and requires a closed caption decoder to be activated in order to view the captions on the monitor/television.  Open captioning is a process by which text is added to video or other media that is a written translation of the media’s dialogue. Unlike closed captioning, open captions require no special decoding equipment for viewing on televisions or monitors and are always displayed and cannot be turned off. 

What is the difference between subtitles and captioning?

Captioning is text that appears on a video, which contains dialogue and audio cues such as music or sound effects that occur off-screen. The purpose of captioning is to make video content accessible to those who cannot access the audio content of the video, such as Deaf or Hard of Hearing viewers, and for other situations in which the audio cannot be heard due to environmental noise or a need for silence.  Subtitling is text that appears on a video and typically contains only a transcription (or translation) of the dialogue.

Is my film already captioned?

If your film has the Closed Captioning (CC) icon  closed caption (CC) icon on the package, it is closed captioned. However, not all captioned films have this icon.  If you are unsure of whether or not a film is captioned, you may bring the VHS/DVD to Media Resources, located in the basement of Bailey-Howe Library, to have it checked, prior to submitting a request for captioning.

What if my film claims to be captioned, but I cannot see the captions on the screen?

Check the setting on the DVD player to ensure captions are enabled.  If they are enabled, but you still cannot see captions, contact Media Resources to request a closed caption decoder in the classroom.

What is the best software to play digital captioned files?

We recommend downloading VLC Media Player, a free and open source cross-platform multimedia player and framework that plays most multimedia files as well as DVDs, Audio CDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols.

Last modified July 07 2014 11:01 AM