Using captions in the classroom

Captions differ from foreign language subtitles in that they can be coloured and positioned to indicate who is speaking, and provide information on music and sound effects which may be central to the understanding of the program. Subtitles are simply a translation of a foreign language into English which appears on the bottom of the screen.

Captions provide contextual information for students. The use of captions in schools is essential for those students who are Deaf or have hearing impairment, and is also of great benefit for other students, particularly diverse learners. The use of captions can assist in improving learning outcomes by supporting information acquisition and reading skills.

The benefits of captioned educational material are many and varied. If you experience difficulty finding captioned audiovisual content, a quick look at our information about finding captioned content could be beneficial. The use of captioned audiovisual content supports the Australian Curriculum and research has shown the benefits for student literacy.

Our national awareness-raising initiative, CAP THAT! provides extensive information about captions, how to source them and turn them on, teacher resources and much more.

If captioned content is not available the use of inclusive teaching practices need to be further integrated into teaching practice.

Captions on DVDs

DVDs are often released to the market with captions English language subtitles can also be used as a form of access for Deaf and hearing impaired people, although these are simply a translation from a foreign language and do not include sound effects or music descriptions.

Roughly 55% of new release rental DVD titles are captioned. Captions are also available on Blu-ray. It is important to understand how to identify whether a title is captioned.

As the captions are an integral part of the DVD, you do not need any special kind of decoder to access them, just a standard DVD player. A series of videos provides an overview of how to turn on DVD captions.

Captions on TV

There are a range of captioned programs available on both free-to-air and subscription television. Captions are available on all TV programs shown between 6.00am to midnight, and all news and current affairs programs, on the primary channels of all the free-to-air networks (e.g. ABC1, SBS1, Seven, Nine and Ten and regional channels).

There are also many programs captioned outside prime time.

Media Access Australia has a range of videos designed to assist people in their use of captions on television.

Captioned downloads

There are a variety of multimedia resources which are downloadable from the internet. To access captions, the media player through which a video is played must be configured to display closed captions. If a player is capable of displaying captions a 'CC button is displayed on the menu bar of the player. Alternatively there may be an arrow at the base of the player which, when selected, displays a CC button.


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