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Collection: Video and Captioning

purple arrow (1137 bytes)Producing and Captioning Videos

REFERENCE: Harkins, J.E., Korres, E., Lee, Y.L., Virvan, B.M.& Singer, B.R. (1993). Captioned video as teacher-made materials for vocabulary development in young deaf children. Final report, Gallaudet University, Washington, D.C.

CONTEXT: This resource reports on the recommendations which emerged from a project called: Captioned Video as Teacher-made Materials for Vocabulary Development in Young Deaf Children. The project was a cooperative effort of the Technology Assessment Program (TAP) at Gallaudet University and the Marie Katzenbach School for the Deaf (MKSD). It examined the potential for teacher-made captioned materials in vocabulary development among deaf children of early-elementary school age. The project's primary objectives were: (1) to identify appropriate equipment for teachers, (2) to teach teachers how to create videos and caption them, (3) to document the process of teachers' using the equipment, creating videos and using those videos in the classroom, and (4) to measure the progress of children on vocabulary lessons presented with and without teacher-made captioned videos.


Video production and captioning should be viewed as flexible techniques, not bound by the high expectations Americans have of broadcast media and film production. TAP staff view these techniques as akin to desktop publishing. When desktop publishing first became available, publications production professionals recoiled at the relatively low quality of documents. But the flexibility and low cost sparked the potential for small publications of interest to relatively small groups, and desktop publishing is used with great success by millions of people.

Administrative support for the project should include ease of access to equipment and software. Ideally, a room should be assigned for a small video lab. Alternatively, the captioning system could be attached to a computer in a computer lab, and the video camera located in a secure place that all teachers can access. The camera should be loaned out overnight and on weekends to permit field shooting.

Equipment and Software

These recommendations do not include specific product endorsements. Products are improving and costs are dropping. New products in consumer-quality editing systems are emerging. Instead, this report focuses on desirable functions and features:

Time and Technical Assistance

To begin an elementary school on video production, it may be useful to institute a project for the academic year. If a media/video specialist is on staff, that person could address video production and simple captioning with the elementary department. If no such expertise exists, consultants should be considered to assist the school in getting started and in providing training. Workshop materials from this project may be duplicated for in-service training.

Teachers should be encouraged to make tapes that are directly relevant to their students and curriculum. For first productions, it is recommended that a five-minute limit be set to prevent discouragement (due to time requirements for longer productions). Scene changes should be minimized for first productions.

Staff development days should be set aside to allow teachers to accomplish the better part of their projects. Working video production and captioning into preparation time requires planning and self-discipline. Teachers reported a preference for deadlines to force them to finish. In addition, more than an hour was needed for the average session, and so it may be difficult for teachers to profitably work in 40-minute segments. (However, it is not impossible, especially if time and scene changes are kept to a minimum.)

Because teachers sought technical assistance from each other and enjoyed working together, an attempt should be made early in the process to identify the preferences of teachers, and to encourage some to specialize in either video production or captioning.

Production Techniques

Teachers should understand that the process of copying for editing and captioning reduces the quality of the videotape. They should understand that they always need to work from the master tape.

The most common mistake teachers made in production was forgetting to leave lead tape and trail tape at the beginning and end of each scene, to permit editing flexibility.


Judith E. Harkins, Ph.D., Director, Technology Assessment Program, Hall Memorial Building, Room S437, Gallaudet University, 800 Florida Ave., NE, Washington, D.C. 20002

A 16-minute video about the project is available.

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This material was developed by the National Center to Improve Practice (NCIP), located at Education Development Center, Inc. in Newton, Massachusetts.  NCIP was funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs from October 1, 1992 - September 30, 1998, Grant #H180N20013.  Permission is granted to copy and disseminate this information.  If you do so, please cite NCIP.   Contents do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by NCIP, EDC, or the U.S. Government.  This site was last updated in September 1998. 

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