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Live closed captioning

The Ultra experience includes live closed captioning. This provides an accessible learning experience for students who are deaf or hard of hearing, as well as for students whose native language is different from the moderator’s.

Note: Text to speech of live closed captioning isn’t supported at this time.

Moderators must make attendees captioners. Captioners type what is being said during a session. Other attendees can view what is being typed in real time. You can have multiple captioners for multiple languages.

More on making an attendee a captioner for moderators

Captions entered during the live session are included when the session is recorded. If your session had more than one caption track, only the first available one is captured.

More on session recordings for participants

Being a captioner

As a captioner, you can provide captions for others in your session. This is a role that is assigned to you by a moderator.

There can be more than one captioner in a session. Captioners are identified in the Attendees panel with a Closed Caption (CC) icon by them.

Caution: Live closed captioning is not supported in Japanese, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, and Korean. Users with browsers set to these languages receive an error when they start.

  1. After you are made a captioner by a moderator, the message “You can now provide captions for others in this session” is displayed at the top of the page.
  2. Spacebar or select Let’s get started providing captions to viewers button, visually displayed with the text Let’s get started.
  3. After captioning is selected, focus moves to the “Provide captions to viewers” edit field with the placeholder text Type Captions.
  4. Captions can now be entered into the edit field.

After you select to start providing captions, all attendees are alerted that captions are available. Your captions appear on their screen as you type them in real time.

Your name is used as the title of your captions by default. It’s good practice to change the title to something others can recognize when they view your captions. For example, Closed Captions or Spanish Subtitles.

  1. Go to your name at the top right of the closed caption edit field.
  2. Spacebar or select Edit caption stream title: [your guest name] button.
  3. Delete your name.
  4. Type a new title in the “Type a new name for the caption stream. Press Enter to update or Escape to cancel.” edit field with the placeholder text Type caption stream title.
  5. Press Enter to update.
  6. Focus is placed in the “Provide captions to viewers” edit field with the placeholder text Type Captions.

Tip: Do you see the content being shared and want to watch the speaker? Select the picture-in-picture to see the active speaker.

View captions

After the captioner has accepted the role, the message “Closed captions are available for this session. Would you like to use them?” displays at the top of the page.

  1. To view the captions, Spacebar or select Yes, enable closed captions button, visually displayed as Yes.
  2. After Yes is selected, the closed caption edit field is enabled at the bottom center of the page.

To turn captions off, Spacebar or select No thanks, continue without closed captions button, visually displayed as No thanks.

Change the font size of the captions

  1. From the read-only closed caption edit field, go to the Select font size for closed caption text select field. The default option is set to Normal.
  2. Spacebar or select Select font size for close caption text select field.
  3. Navigate and select one of the following options:

    • X-Small
    • Small
    • Normal
    • Large
    • X-Large
  4. The font size and the size of the closed caption field adjusts to the change.

Live captions and Chinese, Japanese, and Korean browsers

The input process for live closed captioning is not supported in browsers set to Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. This means that what you type may not appear how you want. Attendees see all keystrokes, not just the resulting word.

Example: To type the Japanese word “河口”, the captioner types “kakou”, which appears as “kかkこう”. These characters are manually converted into “河口”. Attendees viewing the captions see both the typed and converted characters, making the captions difficult to understand.

Watch a video about live closed captioning

Video: Closed Captioning in Class Collaborate shows you how closed captioning works in Class Collaborate.

Recording captions and chat transcripts

If the moderator has allowed session recording downloads, you can download recordings and transcripts from the recording player Recording menu.

Open the Recording menu at the top left of your screen.

  • Download the full recording
  • Download caption transcripts
  • Download chat transcripts

Note: For the first recording of a session named ‘Geography 101’, the downloaded recording would look something like: “2022_08_23_14_47__Geography 101_recording 1_a1951db7-0c29-47f3-b90a-c829389bc3b61_recording.mp4”

Tip: The time in the recording name is in UTC.

You can also download captions from the main Recordings list.

  1. From Recordings find a recording with Closed Captions (CC).
  2. Select the Closed caption options menu and select Download captions.

How do I see captions in the recording I downloaded?

Open the downloaded MP4 in your player. Select the subtitle or caption track in your player so it appears. Some players have subtitles on by default. Others do not.


Tip: If you used live closed captioning in your session, there are captions with your recording already! 

Captions with videos add another opportunity for students to access the information they need in the way they need or want it. And while captions improve the accessibility of content for individuals who are deaf or hearing impaired, captions truly benefit everybody.  


  • Anyone working in a noisy environment can read captions.
  • Non-native speakers can read captions to reinforce their understanding. 
  • Students learning to read can follow along with the speaker. 
  • Students can see the spelling of terms that will be on a test. 

Create a computer-generated caption or upload your own caption file source. Video Text Tracks (VTT) and SubRip Subtitle (SRT) files are supported.  

Create auto-caption

Caution: If you don’t see this option it means it hasn’t been switched on by your institution. Usage of this feature may incur costs for the institution depending on the contract. 

Collaborate is leveraging AI powered speech to text recognition to generate a transcription of what is said during the session. While automated captioning can’t match captions created by humans, it is an easy solution to start with.

Note: The speech to text service and the resulting captions are hosted in the same data center as your Collaborate session.

Use the Auto-generate captions to have captions created for you, as the session owner:

  1. From Collaborate scheduler, select Recordings and find the recording you want.
  2. Select the Recording options menu and select Recording settings.
  3. Select Enable captions, if not already on.
  4. Select Create auto-caption and Save.Tip: It may take time for the auto-captions to generate. You can leave the screen and come back later to view and share them.

After the captions are created, you’ll see that captions are available from the recording list. The captions will also immediately appear in the recording player for anybody having access to the recording.

Moderators can review the captions. If you want to improve or correct anything in the captions, download the caption file to edit. Upload the new file when you are done.


Upload your own caption file

Collaborate supports Video Text Tracks (VTT) and SubRip Subtitle (SRT) files. VTT and SRT files are simple text files that you create and commonly include these elements:

  • The number of the caption
  • Timestamp of the caption
  • Text of what was said in the session

To learn more about VTT caption files, visit W3C WebVTT and Mozilla WebVTT.

To learn more about SRT files, visit the SubRip topic on Wikipedia and How to Create an SRT File by 3Play Media.

  1. VTT-Sample.vtt_From Collaborate scheduler, select Recordings and find the recording you want.Tip: The Collaborate Scheduler is available in Blackboard Learn and LTI compliant LMS courses. The Collaborate Scheduler is not available in the Open LMS Collaborate activity module.
  2. Select the Recording options menu and select Recording settings.
  3. Select Enable captions, if not already on.
  4. Select Upload/Overwrite captions.
  5. Browse for the VTT file and upload it.Note: The Save button is inactive but don’t worry, captions are uploaded and saved automatically.