University Web Developers

University Web Developers

Instead of posting our videos to our campus streaming server, we are starting to post them on YouTube then embedding them back onto our various sites. I think this is a great idea but my concern is accessibility. In the past we have always used MagPie to caption our videos but I don't see how this will work on YouTube.

Any thoughts on how we can make YouTube videos accessible?

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I've only ever read one article on Youtube accessibility, and it wasn't very good (didn't really address accessibility as viewed through 508). I seem to recall some people have had success posting videos on Youtube, and streaming the FLV file into a 3rd party player, but that's mostly been for offline viewing, I'm not sure about doing it on a web site. Could be worth investigating though.

Now, I do hear tale that Google Video has a captioning service that allows you to upload a text file with the video, but I have never looked at, nor tried it.

It might also be worth it to look into
I've also read something (in a Joomla-specific plugin document, I think) about streaming the FLV file into a local player, which could have an associated SMIL file.
Check out this resource.

It's from EASI: Equal Access to Software and Information
We're just getting our feet wet with YouTube. We've been wrestling with this issue a bit lately. I'm wondering if I'm missing anything by embedding captions (produced with Final Cut Pro) in the video and including a link to a text-only transcript. Is there anything particularly inaccessible about our approach?

Take a look and let me know what you think:

BTW, we provided captioned and un-captioned versions of the video.
Hmm... Interesting thought, do screen readers need to be able to parse and read a transcript or is the audio in the FLV adequate? Thoughts?

Any new thoughts on this subject?

Our University Accessibility group has suggested we use:
Catching this thread late, but it's very much of interest.

My thoughts:

I imagine most of you know by now that YouTube will take SRT formatted captions. MAGpie won't produce SRT, but you can convert MAGpie to SRT pretty simply--write a Perl or Python script to do it for you. If you don't want to do that yourself, here is a link to a one off we did: (Scripts in this will also help in conversion to close captioned iTunes/iPod.)

If you want to take MAGpie out of the loop entirely, try this:, which will produce both DFXP and SRT. This needs some feature enhancements but is a great little project.

A big problem with YouTube, however, is lack of keyboard-only support. The YouTube player is Flash and Flash has inherent accessibility problems for keyboard users, esp. in browsers other than IE. There are built in and keyboard short cuts,but they seem flaky on the regular YouTube site--maybe different in an embed. Space bar should pause/play and arrow keys should go back/forward in time.

It appears the API ( would allow for embedding and controlling certain functionality, but not opening and closing the caption pane solely by keyboard.

There is also a load policy which supposedly overrides the default, no captions showing, policy. See and look for cc_load_policy. (There is no way through JavaScript to dynamically open and close the captions....)

I know this is an old thread, but it's still a conversation that interests me.

Ken -

Thanks for the info. One quick question for you. Do you know if MAGpie runs on Vista? I don't think it does.

Also, what alternatives would you recommend other than MAGpie?
Hi Mark,

MAGpie works fine on Vista.

You must have a JRE installed, but that's the case with Java applications, generally. I've used MAGpie on Vista with zero problems for that last two years.

MAGpie will NOT work, however, natively on Intel Macs. It is quite easy to run it in Parallels or VMWare Fusion on Mac, both of which have "mixed" modes that allow for Windows applications to run in the same window, right alongside Mac apps. If you want a free VM for Mac, try Sun's XVM VirtualBox (no "mixed" mode on it, however).

So, MAGpie, though it is certainly not without interface and ease of use and output type problems, is still probably the best free option.

If you're a Mac user, MovCaptioner is an excellent piece of software--much easier to work with than MAGpie if you are actually creating the transcript at the same time you're timing the movie. There is also a project out of ATRC in Toronto called CapScribe ( It again is for Mac only. I have not tried it.

For some $ there is HiCaption Studio ( Runs on Mac and will produce SAMI, RealText, and DFXP.

I think those are most of the decent free or relatively low-cost packages. Professionals seem to like CPC, but it is really professional-grade (and, hence, definitely NOT cheap).

The youtubecc project I think has the potential of bringing a wider group of folks into captioning. I recommend people check it out and write to the developer and recommend enhancements.

I, too, find this conversation very interesting. We are finally moving toward adding some video content to our Web site. We chose to use YouTube to host the video content, rather than trying to stream the video from our own server.

Obviously, without captions, we wouldn't have been able to do so (which is why we went with YouTube instead of other services like Viddler or Vimeo).

We've only finalized and published one video, so far on our Web site. For that, I included a "D link" after the video (although I've been hard pressed to find any information about whether or not this is acceptable practice) that leads to the transcript with the video embedded below the transcript.

I would be curious to hear any thoughts on the best ways to present video without hosting and streaming it on your own server.
A literal D-link, such as D or just a link to the transcript? D-links are pretty out-moded. But I like the idea of a link to the transcript. Some users might really appreciate it, and it could provide extra information for blind users, if you include in it transcribed descriptions--YouTube doesn't support audio descriptions.

On our campus, there has been in the past a tendency to just include the transcript and not a synchronized caption. That is not adequate, in my opinion. A transcript is fine for a podcast or other sort of audio-only content, but not for a video. You need a synchronized caption for a video.

As for YouTube, I think it's a pretty nice medium if you can't host on your own server. The ten minute limitation is a big one, though. Any way of getting around that?

Another possibility worth exploring is Bits on the Run:

Bits is a product of Longtail Video and the brainchild of Jeroen Wijering, who wrote the JW FLV player, which is one of the most used on the web and has excellent support for both captions and audio descriptions.

Bits will cost money. But it's not outrageous.

BTW, something I discovered recently: I had uploaded both Subviewer format and SubRip format caption text to YouTube. Only SubRip supports line breaks of your own choosing. So, for example, if you have dialog like this:

Jim: Hi.
Bill: Hi, Jim

and the exchange is very rapid, you would probably want it on one caption pop-on/chunk, but on two lines. With Subviewer, though, YouTube will string the caption onto one line. SubRip will allow you to break the caption:



Jim: Hi.
Bill: Hi, Jim

(this will be strung onto a single caption line)


00:00:03,23 --> 00:00:05,34
Jim: Hi.
Bill: Hi, Jim

(the line break will be honored in this one)

Interesting information.

Yes, I meant a literal D link. The captions/subtitles are available embedded in the YouTube video, but I also provided the [D] link to the transcription. Here is the example to which I'm referring:

As far as the 10-minute limit, the only way I can see around it is to split your video into sections or chapters and then use a "playlist" to put them together when you embed them. That's what I did with this example (I haven't added a link to the transcript(s) on this page, yet, but the captions are embedded in the video):

For the captions in that set of videos, I only specified a start time for each caption (no end time). The line breaks are honored within those.



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