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This guide walks through the steps of uploading course materials into YouTube to provide automatic captioning and transcripts. 


We're increasingly relying upon a variety of digital tools to share content with our students. Any course materials that are primarily audio or video in nature MUST be accompanied by captions and transcripts. Without these, audio and video content can cause major access and accessibility barriers for our students. Whether due to a hearing impairment, technology barrier, or situational need, captions and transcripts are vital to many students in order to successfully understand audio and video content. Uploading these presentations to YouTube to take advantage of the automated captioning services provided there is a great step towards improving the accessibility for all viewers.

These course materials may include: 

  • narrated voice-overs of PowerPoint or Google Slides
  • recorded live class meetings
  • recorded class tutorials
  • podcasts

Start With A Recording

Capture the course content using a tool of your choice. The example shown below was recorded using Zoom, but you might consider Google Hangouts Meet, Jing, or Screencast-o-matic, among others.  

Steps To Upload

  1. Access YouTube using your Geneseo email account. One easy way to do this is through the Apps button in your email account. Look for the cluster of buttons next to your username at the top right of your email screen. YouTube icon circled from GSuite menu in email
  2. Another good way of accessing your YouTube account is to go over to https://studio.youtube.com especially when needing to access your videos that you've already created and uploaded. 
  3. If this is your first time accessing YouTube from this account, you will be instructed to set up a channel. 
  4. Click the "Create" icon at the top of the page to "upload video." Note: in order to upload videos longer than 15 minutes, YouTube will ask you to verify your account.  
  5. Follow the steps provided to import your PowerPoint narration recording. Note: select "unlisted" in the visibility options when publishing in order to limit viewership to only those you provide the link to.  
  6. Once finished, the video will show up in your Studio page. English auto-captions will be automatically added, and a transcript for the video will also be available for viewers. 

Depending on its length, the video may take some time to process and captions can take a while to appear, especially on longer videos.


The general consensus is that YouTube's auto-captioning accuracy is about 80% right: pretty great for a starting point, but far from perfect. That accuracy rate goes down for content in STEM fields or other advanced terminology, if the audio quality is poor, or if the AI doesn't recognize a speaker's accent. Every video's auto-captions should be reviewed to catch the absurd, unintentionally funny, or perhaps inappropriate interpretations it comes up with. 

Sometimes the auto-captioning may fail entirely. The "Troubleshooting" section of Support: Use Automatic Captioning explains situations that may cause this, including poor sound quality, multiple people talking over one another, or silence at the beginning of the video. 

Steps to Improve the Auto-Captions

It's possible to edit YouTube's auto-captions. This is much faster than transcribing everything from scratch, and it also builds upon the convenient timestamps already noted in the automated system.   


  1. In your YouTube Studio page, select the desired video by checking the box next to the video, and then click the "subtitles" button on the far left menu. arrow pointing to Subtitles icon in YouTube Studio
  2. If your default language has been set to English, then you will see the "English (Automatic" subtitle option. Click the three-button menu next to "Published" for Options.   
  3. Click the option to "edit on Classic Editor." A new tab will open, with the "Edit" button option at the top. You will then be able to make changes to the auto-generated text. If nothing else, adding punctuation will help your viewers immensely. Be sure to click "save changes" when finished. text editor tool with timestamps on left, and video with playback on right. Delete Draft and Save Changes buttons at top right



You can enable students or other viewers to help improve the accuracy of captions, as well. Read more about Allowing Community Contributions to your YouTube videos

YouTube's workflow updates often. Please refer to YouTube's Support pages for additional guidance.  

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More Help

For questions, contact the CIT HelpDesk by calling (585) 245-5588, or visiting our online service desk.