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Captioning standards

(These standards are recommended by the UM Sign Language Interpreters/C-Print Captionists at Disability Services for Students and based on the DCMP Guidelines.)

  • Transcripts should be verbatim.
  • Captions should be two lines.
  • If the media is filmed in another country and a foreign language is used for names, places or events we can only do our best to phonetically spell those during the initial typing and later go back when spell checking and perhaps google the country/ person/event and try to find the correct spelling.
  • Speakers names or identifiers should be followed by a colon and then their words - John: What do you mean?
  • Silences that are meaningful should be indicated - Mother: Where have you been? Son: (silence)
  • Captioners should put sounds into brackets, i.e. [horns honking], [wind whistling],  [music], [awkward silence] or [people shouting over each other].
  • Unknown sounds or words should be indicated with several question marks - Jon: I'm going to the ???
    • Affect: to convey the affect of the speaker, the captioner might
    • Use bold, italic or underline features. “that was REALLY cool!”, “WHAT?”
    • Multiple paranethesis to indicate timid or whispered words - Girl: (((I'm scared)))
  • Indicate speakers or change of speakers:  the captioner uses quotes and names of the speakers if available.
    • BARB:    “That’s what I thought would happen.”
    • TOM:     “I know, I thought the same thing.”
  • When the dialogue is muffled or too low to discern the captionist uses “…..”   Ex:  “I didn’t mean to hurt him, I …………… I was defending myself.”  
  • Register of speaker: when the media involves children for example, we try to give an accurate transcript of their language register so the person relying on the captioning gets the full experience.  Ex. “I told Johnny I was gonna get him for beatin’ me in the race today.  Cuz I was mad. I wanted to win…”
  • Always go back and spell check the transcript:
    • often that is not enough.  
    • Best practice go back through it line by line to catch punctuation etc.
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