Captions (Text from speech)

CC symbol
CC symbol indicating closed captions

Captions are text versions of speech. They can be useful to many people. For deaf or hearing-impaired users, they are essential. People who do not have the language spoken as their native language can find them very useful. Some users find seeing the words and hearing the audio very beneficial – this gives input to both the ears and eyes, which provides multi-channel input (cf Meyer’s Theory of Multimedia), so people who are dyslexic, neurodiverse or experiencing stress or anxiety can find them useful. They can also be useful to someone watching or listening to something in a noisy environment. Captions can be produced in several ways.

Closed captions can be added under video where the words spoken are written as text.
This can be either simultaneous or applied after the recording is made.
Simulteneous captions sometimes contain errors, as the computer may not fully understand the words being spoken so an accent, complex or unusual words, or poor quality audio can mean that they are not accurate. However, the quality is improving as AI helps computers to understand more about language. It is possible to have almost accurate simultaneous captions

Captions applied after an event or after a video is completed can be automated (with possible inaccuracies) or can be processed by a human, giving almost 100% accuracy.

Captions can also be generated by live-speech generators, which will give you a transcript, as the speaker is talking. Typically, this would be on your own mobile device.

Captioning systems used at the University:


  • This is the system used for recording lectures.
  • Lecture recordings are made available in Moodle. You can find them in each Moodle module space.
  • Lecture recordings with the Panopto symbol.
  • All lectures recorded with Panopto have captions applied underneath. These are automated captions.
  • Clicking the letters CC under the video will automatically add the captions.
  • It is also possible to extract a full ‘transcript’ from Panopto recordings.
  • Learn how to use captions and create a transcipt in this video: Getting the most from your Panopto recordings
  • If you have a disability that requires accurate captions (eg hearing -imapairment), then these can be requested through your disability adviser.

Microsoft Teams:

Any University sessions / meetings that take place in Teams can have captions applied. Sessions that are recorded will have a recording and a transcript produced.
Use live captions in Microsoft Teams meetings

Also worth considering:

If you intend to make a recording of a lecture in a live situation, you should always ask permission from your tutor and follow the University’s policy on ‘Use of recording devices by students in lectures and other learning and teaching activities‘. Students who have been granted permission through their disability adviser to make recordings do not need to approach a lecturer as this is granted through their disability plan.

Glean (University disabled students / DSA / £)

Glean is note-taking software which records the audio from a lecture or recording. It does now have a good-quality transcribe function included as well. The University has some licences available for disabled students and it is also available with Disabled Students’ Allowance, based on need. If you are not eligible as a disabled student, it is still available to buy for your own use.
More information about Glean. 

Otter AI (DSA /£) :

Otter is an app and website where live speech can be converted into text. Most people who use Otter tend to use the app when they are in a lecture or meeting or the desktop version when working with a recording. The audio is recorded and transcribed simultaneously. Otter AI can also now allow you to ask questions after the taught session or video recording.  Otter may be available to disabled students through the Disabled Students’ Allowance. There is a free version of Otter which will allow you up to 300minutes per month. You can subscribe to higher levels of service.

Please note that there are many free apps which will now give text versions of live speech, but do be cautious and check Privacy statements if you intend to use one. Many will collect the live speech and/or your transcript and retain the right to use this content. This breaches GDPR regulations and may make private conversations or University content more widely available, against regulations.