Communication Services Information for Faculty and Instructors

American Sign Language (ASL) Interpreting

What is ASL interpreting?

American Sign Language (ASL) is a visual language.  The ASL interpreter facilitates the communication of what is being said in a variety of academic situations. They may also translate the student’s signed communication into spoken English when the student is called upon, has a comment or question, or makes a presentation. ASL interpreters are there to provide communication access between the student, the instructor, and the class.

Do I need to do anything differently when an ASL Interpreter is present for an in-person class?

  • When using an interpreter to speak with a person who is D/deaf or hard of hearing, remember to speak directly to the person, not to the interpreter. The interpreter is not part of the conversation and is not permitted to voice personal opinions or enter into the conversation.

  • Face the person who is D/deaf or hard of hearing and speak to them in a normal manner. Do not make comments to the interpreter that you do not intend to have interpreted to the D/deaf or hard-of-hearing person, even if the person’s back is turned.

  • Remember that the interpreter is a few words behind the speaker. Please give the interpreter time to finish before you ask questions so that the D/deaf or hard-of-hearing person may also ask questions or join in the discussion.

  • Whenever possible, please permit only one person to speak at a time during group discussions, as it is very difficult for an interpreter when several people are speaking at once. It may be beneficial to ask the class to allow a brief pause between speakers to permit the interpreter to finish the previous statement before the next speaker begins.

  • In classes in which there is a great deal of classroom participation, it is helpful if the students in the class raise their hands and wait to be called upon before speaking. This allows the interpreter and the D/deaf or hard-of-hearing student time to identify who is speaking before proceeding with the interpreted statement.

  • Speak clearly and in a normal tone when using an interpreter. Do not rush through a lecture. If the interpreter does not understand or did not hear what was said, they may ask the speaker to slow down or restate the information given.

  • Allow time to study handouts, charts, or overheads. A person who is D/deaf or hard of hearing cannot watch the interpreter and study written information at the same time. If at all possible, please provide the student with these materials in advance so they may be reviewed ahead of time.

  • Be sure that the interpreter is within a clear line of sight and has good lighting. If the interpreting situation requires darkening the room to view slides, videotapes, or films, auxiliary lighting may be necessary so that the D/deaf or hard-of-hearing person can see the interpreter.

Realtime Captioning

What is Realtime Captioning?

Realtime Captioning is the immediate stenographic transcription of the spoken word into text. This text can be viewed on a mobile device, computer, tablet, or large screen.  Realtime Captioning enables people who are hard of hearing or D/deaf equal access to fully and actively participate.

Do I need to do anything differently when a Realtime Captioner is present for an in-person class?

  • Speak clearly, in a normal tone, and at a moderate rate. Do not rush through a lecture. If the captioner does not understand or hear what was said, they may ask the speaker to slow down or restate the information given.

  • If there is a microphone available in the classroom, the presenter should wear it at all times.

  • If there is more than one speaker present, they should not speak simultaneously because the captioner can only caption one speaker at a time.

  • If the speaker plans to read material in the class, it is beneficial for the student to be given the material prior to the beginning of the class so they can follow along with what is being read.

  • When reading a text in class, please make sure to cite the page number and paragraph that you are reading from so the student can follow along.

  • The captioner cannot caption and talk at the same time. Avoid speaking directly to the captioner or asking questions of the captioner during class time.

  • When using realtime captioning to speak with a student who is D/deaf or hard of hearing, remember to speak directly to the student, not to the captioner.

  • Face the person who is D/deaf or hard of hearing and speak to them the same way you would to any other student.

  • Do not make comments to the captioner that you do not intend to have captioned to the D/deaf or hard of hearing student, even if the student’s back is turned.

  • When a question is asked or a comment is made during class, please repeat the question and/or comment before answering.

  • In classes in which there is a great deal of classroom participation, it is helpful if the students in the class raise their hands and wait to be called upon before speaking.

  • If there are guest speakers or student presenters, please have them wear a microphone and keep them apprised of DSP protocol.

  • Whenever possible, please provide the Realtime Captioner with PowerPoints, handouts, charts, and other class materials in advance so they may be reviewed ahead of time.

What are the Realtime Captioning Best Practices for courses presented via Zoom?

  • Zoom lectures need to end at the scheduled end time, as both the students and the captioners may have other obligations immediately following your class.

  • Speak clearly, in a normal tone, and at a moderate rate. Do not rush through a lecture. If the captioner does not understand or hear what was said, the captioner will communicate with the instructor through the Zoom chat window. Please monitor your chat window for questions or requests from the captioner.

  • Be mindful of ambient noises. Shuffling papers, typing, or using a stylus will override the spoken word. Speak facing your device's microphone. When speakers turn away from the microphone or their head is down, the audio is muffled or inaudible, possibly resulting in missing crucial information.

  • To ensure your audio is coming through clearly during your lecture, please check the chat frequently or ask if participants can hear you throughout your lecture.

  • The captioner can only caption one speaker at a time. If there is more than one speaker present, they should not speak simultaneously. When multiple participants are speaking at one time, the audio does not stream through. Please ask participants to mute their microphone until they need to speak.

  • If the speaker plans to read material in the class, it is beneficial for the student and captioner to have access to the material prior to the beginning of the class so they can follow along with what is being read.

  • When reading a text in class, please make sure to cite the page number and paragraph that you are reading from so the student can follow along. Posting this information in the chat window also helps your students locate the material.

  • The captioner cannot provide captions and speak and/or type in the chat window at the same time. Please avoid asking non-essential questions of the captioner during class time.

  • If there are guest speakers or student presenters, please apprise them of DSP captioning protocols.

  • Whenever possible, please provide the Realtime Captioner with PowerPoints, handouts, charts, and other class materials in advance so they may be reviewed ahead of time. The best way to share preparation materials is by posting them to your bCourses site or by emailing the files to dsp-captioning@berkeley.edu.

How do I communicate with a Realtime Captioner during a Zoom lecture?

  
You can use the chat window in Zoom to communicate with the captioner. The captioner will be named "Captioner" in the participant list.  Please send all messages to the captioner privately.

You may also try speaking to the captioner through the microphone. The captioner will unmute themselves to respond to you if they are able to. Do not mention the student's name or disability over the microphone or in a public chat.

How do I assign the Realtime Captioner to a Zoom breakout room?

  
When assigning a captioner to the student during breakout sessions, please look for the captioner in the participant list (DSP Captioning). Please ensure the captioner is in the same breakout room as the student receiving the accommodation.

 

How will I know if a Realtime Captioner is present in my Zoom meeting?

  
The captioner will be named "Captioner" in your Zoom participants list.

Can a student with a Realtime Captioning accommodation participate in Zoom group work/breakout rooms?

Yes, the student is able to participate in group work. When a class is held in-person, a captioner is present and often sits with the group in order to hear the speakers clearly. Remote classes are handled in a similar fashion in that the captioner will be present in the same breakout room/group component as the student. 


A student may also speak with the DSP Captioning Coordinator if they wish to omit captioning from any portion of their course. In the event a student elects to omit captioning from a component of their course, the instructor will be notified by the DSP Captioning Coordinator that the student does not need captioning for that specific portion.

We encourage students to discuss their accommodations with their professors, and they may reach out to you with what works best for them in your particular class.

Captioned Media

Please review our tips on how to turn on captions in various situations. You can also contact the Educational Technology Services department by calling (510) 643-8637 or email etssupport@berkeley.edu if you would like them to demonstrate procedures for turning on captions.

What is Captioned Media?

Captioned media displays spoken words as text and includes speaker identifications, sound effects, and music description.

Do I always have to use captioned versions of films, film clips, YouTube/Vimeo videos, and other media?

YES.  ALL films, clips, videos, and other media must be captioned in accordance with Federal Law and University policy. If there is a student in your classroom who has a captioned media accommodation, you may not play uncaptioned films, clips, YouTube/Vimeo videos or other media. Please obtain films or video clips with captions whenever you plan to use them in class. Not all professionally produced films on DVD and VHS will have closed captions. Please check accordingly before you intend to show the media.

  • Non-compliance with the above legal mandates could result in a complaint to the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), in which the university and/or the faculty/staff could be held legally liable.

What should I do if the media I plan to use is not captioned?

If there is a student in your class requiring captioned media, you may not play uncaptioned media. However, with sufficient time, it is possible to obtain captioned materials. Please check your DVDs, CDs, videotapes, and web videos well in advance to determine if they are captioned or not.

If your material is not captioned, please submit your captioned media request through AIM. For instructions on how to submit a request through AIM, please visit the Instructor Access to Communication Services section on our Accessing Accommodation Information in AIM page.


For shorter videos of ten minutes or less, please allow a one-week turnaround. For longer videos, please allow two weeks. Please plan accordingly. If videos are not captioned, they may not be shown in class or be required to view outside of class time.

What is the difference between captions and subtitles?

Subtitles are generally intended for people who are able to hear. Subtitles are most often used to display a different language than the one spoken in the video. Subtitles only include the words spoken.

Captions are intended to provide access to people who are unable to hear. Unlike subtitles, captions include the spoken word, sound effects, music description, and identification of speakers.

Why do videos need to be captioned if there’s a realtime captioner or ASL interpreter in the class?

It is impossible for the student to watch the video and watch the captions/interpreters simultaneously.  Information will be missed on one end or the other, thereby missing portions of the captions/interpreting.

The captioner or interpreter may be unfamiliar with the terminology, names, locations, song lyrics, or subject-specific information contained in the video.  This unfamiliarity may result in inaccurate translation/captions. Interpreters and captioners are able to translate one voice at a time. If people in the video speak over one another, or if a professor speaks during the video presentation, some dialog would not be relayed to the student. Videos that contain quality captions ensure students receive equal access to the information being presented.

How long does it take to get media captioned?

For shorter videos of ten minutes or less, please allow a one-week turnaround. For longer videos, please allow two weeks. For last-minute media captioning requests, please submit your request via AIM and indicate your desired turnaround time. Please plan accordingly. If videos are not captioned, they may not be shown in class or be required to view outside of class time.

Is a transcript of a video sufficient?

If the media has audio and video, you need to have it captioned. A transcript is not sufficient.

Why aren’t automatic captions sufficient for a video shown in class?

Automatic captions do not meet caption quality or legal standards that apply to video captioning as a whole. Captions must relay the speaker’s exact words with correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar with 99% accuracy. Captions may not be paraphrased and must honor the original tone and intent of the speaker. Sounds, music, and other environmental noises must also appear.

For more information on this, please review this link for clarification on automated captions. A quick way to determine if the captions are acceptable is to check to see if there is punctuation and speaker identifiers.

What if the clip I plan to use is from YouTube?

If the material is on YouTube, you should check to see if it’s appropriately captioned. If it is not properly captioned, request that DSP have it captioned for you.

*A warning about YouTube videos:  Often YouTube videos show the “CC” symbol indicating they are captioned. However, if you click on the “CC” symbol and it says “English (Auto Generated),” these captions are produced using voice recognition software and fall below ADA and UC Berkeley quality standards. When used in the classroom, auto-generated captions may limit accessibility for the student with a hearing loss. 

The auto-generated captions are sometimes so inaccurate that they prohibit proper comprehension of the material being presented. It is required you always review the entire YouTube video to check the quality of the captions before showing it in class.  If captions do not meet ADA and University requirements, you should request that the DSP have them captioned.

What if the instructor owns the video?

If the video will be shown in the classroom or is required to be watched outside of class time by the students, regardless of whether it is instructor-owned or campus-owned, it will need to be captioned.

Can I get foreign language films captioned?

Yes. Please submit your request through AIM.

Where can I go to find an already captioned version of the film/video I want to play?

Do only D/deaf and hard-of-hearing persons benefit from captioning?

No. Captions aid in comprehension, accuracy, engagement, and retention for persons without hearing loss as well.