Collaborate, Captioning and You


Having captions available on media resources is an important thing to do. They can be helpful for many types of people with many types of requirement, such as:

  • Anyone with any level of hearing impairment
  • Anyone that doesn’t speak the presenter’s language as their primary language
  • Anyone taking notes
  • Anyone in a loud environment, such as in a busy home with young children
  • Anyone trying to fit in some food whilst watching the recording… (How often have you turned on captions when watching a video or TV and eating something crunchy?)

The importance of (and need for) captions is covered within the Public Sector Bodies Accessibility Regulations (2018 Regulations), and is reiterated locally in the University’s Video Captioning Policy (published July 2020). Both the 2018 Regulations and the local Policy state that all video resources currently in use should be accurately captioned before release to their intended audience.

Collaborate Ultra and Captioning

Recorded Collaborate Sessions

Collaborate sessions that you have recorded and are planning to share need to be accurately captioned before doing so, just like any other current video resource.  Whilst Collaborate does not (at time of writing) have functionality that will auto-caption either a live or a recorded session, there are other tools available that will.

If you download your Collaborate recording and upload it to either Panopto (recommended) or YouTube (less recommended, but useful if you need to caption in a language Panopto doesn’t support) they will automatically generate a caption file which you can download, amend as needed and then attach to your Collaborate recording.

If any user ever encounters an uncaptioned video, they can utilise Google Chrome’s built in auto-captioning tool to generate at least basic captions that may help.

Learn More: Guidance – Captioning Collaborate Recordings.

Live Collaborate Sessions

Where possible, it is good practice to provide automatic captioning on all live sessions as well as recordings, although this isn’t an explicit requirement of the 2018 Regulations. At time of writing, Collaborate does not currently have a way to facilitate automatic captioning in a live session, but there are still options available that can help. Live sessions:

  • Can be manually captioned in real time by a designated captioner
  • Can be automatically captioned
    • And made visible to everyone in the session, by: The presenter utilising the auto-captioning tools that are already built in to Google Slides or PowerPoint and sharing their screen
    • And made visible only for those that choose it, by: The user(s) wishing to view captions enabling Google Chrome’s inbuilt auto-captioning tool (new Q3 2020) on their own computer.

Learn More: Guidance – Captioning Live Collaborate Sessions.

Looking Ahead

Blackboard (the company that provide the Collaborate service) understand how important captioning is on both recordings and live sessions. At time of writing (Q1 2021) they are exploring options to have auto-captioning built into Collaborate itself.

After polling swathes of their userbase for their preference, Blackboard are prioritising implementing auto captioning tools on recorded sessions before live ones, but hopefully both will be facilitated in the future. Follow our team newsletters for updates on this as we get them.


If you wish to discuss captioning further, please Contact Us.

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