Vimeo accessibility - Vimeo closed captioning

Vimeo accessibility: add closed captions and translations to your videos

Dec 20, 2021 | Blog, How-to, Integrations, Vimeo

Make it easy to view your content by fully using Vimeo accessibility features! By adding captions and subtitles to your videos, you can meet accessibility requirements and increase the value of your content. Closed captions help with with viewer engagement, video views in noisy environments, and searchable content in your channel.

If you’re adding captions and subtitles to a livestream, or if you want to save livestream captions to recorded content, follow our tutorial on Vimeo subtitles and captions.

Before you start:
Have your caption/subtitle file ready. Vimeo accepts the following file types:

  • WebVTT (.vtt)
  • SubRip (.srt)
  • DXFP/TTML (.dxfp)
  • Scenarist (.scc)
  • SAMI (.SAMI)

Vimeo recommends using the .vtt file format whenever possible (you can get this file format with spf.io). They also recommend encoding caption files in UTF-8 format so special characters will display properly.

If you are saving captions from a live event (note: not all captioning software will allow you to save livestream captions), make sure they are in the .vtt file format before you upload them. Then, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to Vimeo. Click on the video you would like to caption or subtitle.
    (You can see a list of your videos by hovering over your profile picture icon and clicking “videos,” or click on Manage Videos > My Videos in the upper left menu).
  2. Access Subtitle settings for your video: Click Advanced on the vertical menu bar to the right of your video. (If you don’t see this menu, make sure you are logged in). Select Distribution, then Subtitles from the options that appear.Vimeo advanced settings
    .Subtitle options for Vimeo accessibility
  3. Under the Captions and Subtitles section, click the (+) sign. Note that you can only upload one caption/subtitle file at a time. Choose the language and file type of your file.Upload captions or subtitles in Vimeo
    Be in the know: captions are usually in the language that is being spoken, whereas subtitles are translated from the original language of the spoken audio. For example, if you have Spanish captions for a lecture in Spanish, you could offer subtitles in English and French for the same content. Your captions/subtitles might also include audio descriptions for better accessibility.However, in the context of Vimeo file settings, Vimeo uses the word “subtitles” to describe dialogue in written form and “captions” to describe “subtitles” that include audio descriptions. Confusing, right? In this case, if you have Spanish and English files for a Spanish-speaking audio track, you would select “subtitles” for both of these files if they did not include audio descriptions. If they did include audio descriptions, you would select “captions” for your file type.Captions with audio descriptions will display as the option “Español CC” while captions without audio descriptions will just have the name of the language, ex. “Español.”
  4. It’s helpful to include the language in the name of your file – don’t use a generic title like “captions,” like we show here! Use a name like “Barbara lecture Spanish subtitles.vtt.”
  5. To activate your captions and subtitles, click on the slider bar next to each file. Activated files will have a highlighted blue slider. Although you can have multiple caption files added to your video, you can only have ONE activated for each language/file type combination. (Note: Adding multiple caption files could be helpful to your translation team if you want to save different versions of a translation on the same video file. However, you will only be able to choose one version to display on your video).If you see the Vimeo error message “Please activate only one text track of a language and type,” it means you have not followed this rule (ex. You might have two Spanish “subtitles” activated).
  6. Click on Save at the bottom of your screen.Save Vimeo settings after adding captions

Once you’ve gone through this process once, it’s easy to follow these steps to make all of your content accessible!

Ready for the next step?

Find out how spf.io can help you translate and caption your next event.

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