Accessible Content for All: Building Equity & Engagement with Tech Tools

Captioning to Improve Engagement

Are your multi-lingual and hearing-impaired learners missing parts of instruction? What about students who struggle with auditory processing, are they missing out on spoken instruction?  There are some easy free tools to make captioning part of your everyday practice so that all learners can engage and benefit from instruction.  When you present content using PowerPoint or Google Slides, you can use live captioning.  When you show a video, you can turn on CC to make sure everyone has an inclusive experience.  If you are wondering how research supports using captioning with all students, check out this video. Teaching with Closed Captioning.

Section Objective:

  • Analyze captioning tool options on various platforms and choose the best option to fit your practice.
  • Reflect on the difference between live captioning, open captioning, closed captioning, and described and captioned media.  

Review Tip 6 in the document 8 Tips to Make Curriculum Content Accessible. Turning on closed captions (CC) is essential for those who are deaf and helpful for English Language Learners, visual learners, and many more. 

Closed Captions display audio as text on a screen for a pre-recorded event/video.  With closed captioning the user has the ability to turn the captioning on or off.  

Live Captions or subtitles are when text is displayed on the screen in real time as a person is speaking. 


Closed Captioning within YouTube

How to Turn on Captions in YouTube (0:56 min.)

This article on How (and Why) to Caption YouTube Videos You Don't Own, gives insight into the importance of using captions on educational content to improve accessibility to diverse students in different environments.  CC can help students improve engagement, focus on video content, comprehension, and spelling. CC also provides flexibility to watch videos with background noise.  CC also may be legally required to meet the accessibility needs of students who qualify for 504 or IEP plans. 

Described Caption Media

Described and Captioned Media provides captions as well as text description of other sound elements in a video.  You can find a resource bank of videos with this type of support on the website of the Described and Captioned Media Program.

Live Captioning with Google Slides

See the short how-to video below on using live captions in Google Slides.  You can use Google Slide captioning in the background and show other screens by using Alt-Tab to toggle to other screens you have open. 

Live Captioning in Google Slides


Live Captioning with Microsoft

PowerPoint in Office 365 has live captioning, otherwise known as subtitles.  You can have the subtitles appear in English or in a langauge of your choosing.  There is also the option to choose a spoken language and a different language for the subtitles.  

Live Captioning/Subtitles with PowerPoint in Office 365

Live Captioning in Microsoft Teams

If you are using Microsoft Teams for meetings or presentations, there are live translated captions available within Microsoft Teams.  Watch this video to find out more:

Live Translated Captions for Microsoft Teams (1:15 min.)

In addition, you can change the closed caption settings on a Windows 10 computer to get a more customized look to your closed captioning bar. Check out this video on How to Change Closed Caption Settings in Windows 10.

Finally, SETC has created this webpage for you to Learn more about captioning and translation toolsYou can bookmark this page for future reference to refresh your memory on what is available for CC.


What does this look like in the classroom?

Using Google Slides Live-Closed Captioning in the Classroom (5:57 min.)

Lesson Tip: 

Use a high-quality wireless microphone when you are teaching a lesson using closed captioning.  This will improve the accuracy of the live transcription of your voice. Here is an example of a wireless headset with a microphone with AI noise canceling that can be connected to your computer and set up to support closed captioning in the classroom 

Blue person wearing headset with microphone


1. What's one way you can add closed captioning to your everyday practice when designing content? 

2. Reflect on the Self Assessment Rubric below as you think about applying your learning to your instructional practice. Where are you on the continuum?

level 1

level 2

level 3

I have a general understanding of captioning tools available to support my students.I watched the video and explored using a captioning tool in my preferred platform.I implemented captioning for at least one lesson I presented in my classroom, and shared this resource with my colleagues.


  • CC - Closed Captions or subtitles are both processes of displaying text on the screen of a computer or television for people who cannot hear the audio or need both audio and visual to make a video fully accessible.  Closed captioning is when individuals have a choice to turn captioning on or off. 
  • Live translated Captions - is the process of taking audio and simultaneously converting it into text in real-time.
  • Open Captioning:  This kind of captioning is burned into the video and displays on the screen all the time.  The user cannot choose to turn it off. 
  • Described and Captioned Media:  Described and Captioned Media provides captions as well as text description of other sound elements in a video.