Classroom Captioning

From: Mardi Loeterman <Mardi_Loeterman@WGBH.ORG>
Subject: classroom captioning
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OFFICE MEMO classroom captioning Date:3/3/99

This is Mardi Loeterman, from WGBH. A few weeks ago, there was a discussion about captioning for the classroom. I posted a message which never arrived. So, I am reposting now.

I have worked with developers for many years on captioning systems that are school friendly, teacher friendly and kid friendly. We were successful in creating a system for the PC, and worked with an organization called CAST to create a system for the Mac. But... in both cases, technology that we depended on changed under our feet.

So, at this point, the Mac software (called CaptionWorks) is in limbo, because there is no available device that keys text over video. As for the PC, WGBH's software, called QuickCaption for Word, works fine as long as you use Windows 95 and Microsoft Word 6. It does not work with later versions of Windows and Word. The information on our website is still correct-- the most direct web address is

(That web address has information about student captioning for learning purposes, or if you send me your postal address, I will mail you a copy of "Writing with Video: an Idea Book for Captioning in the Classroom.")

The technology I have referred to above is ideal for captioning whole videotapes. Now, if you only want to caption video clips, you may be better off doing it digitally. That is, either start with a digital piece of media, or start with a video and digitize it onto your computer. To caption it, you can use CapMedia Tools (see or a new tool we are developing at WGBH (working name is "Magpie"), which will be available for free in the spring. I will send a notice to EDUDEAF when Magpie becomes available. Both of these tools are for the PC only, although we hope to make a Mac version of Magpie (no release date yet).

While you're pondering the possibilities, imagine this scenario: someone in British Colombia captions a particular science video, while five other folks caption the same video, each unaware that others have done so, too. And, my colleagues in The Caption Center remind me that there may be copyright issues when you caption a video produced by someone other than yourself.

The best way to get all media captioned is for the producers to caption them from the outset. I encourage teachers, or the media buyer at the district level, in addition to any parents who want to play an active role, to send letters to producers and distributors, telling them that your students are not fully benefitting from their programs because their media is not captioned. In many cases, a handful of heartfelt letters has made the difference.


Uploaded By: Stacy Moors/Kent State University/Deaf Education Major