According to the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework, as a text-based alternative to auditory information in videos or presentations, captions can make the content equally accessible, and multilingual subtitles can promote a cross-linguistic understanding of the content. We conducted a phenomenological study to understand the common meaning of the participants’ experiences when using real-time automated captions/subtitles during live online class presentations. Twenty-four remote student participants were placed in three study groups. All participants were fluent in spoken and written English, eight could read in one or more additional languages, and none had a hearing disability. We used Microsoft PowerPoint Present Live via Zoom to deliver the online presentation to each group with real-time automated captions/subtitles, and then we conducted a focus group session with each group. Ten themes emerged and were clustered into three overarching themes: challenges, benefits, and interactions with subtitles. Overall, participants described a positive experience, perceiving the captions/subtitles as useful and accurate. Participants found the tool easy to use and highlighted the benefits of using captions/subtitles, such as providing access to live instruction for a wide audience and reinforcing learning for diverse student types. While they were able to troubleshoot connectivity and technological issues encountered, they experienced an apparent split-attention effect and noted limitations in the tool's inability to recognize different dialects. Findings contribute to educational research related to accessible live instruction in multilingual settings and could aid educators in selecting and integrating tools with real-time captioning/subtitling, in line with the UDL guidelines.


Universal Design for Learning, real-time, captions, multilingual subtitles, phenomenology, automatic speech recognition, online presentation, inclusive instruction, PowerPoint Present Live

Author Bio(s)

Anymir Orellana is a Professor at Nova Southeastern University’s Abraham S. Fischler College of Education and School of Criminal Justice. She teaches online graduate courses in English and Spanish in related areas of instructional technology, instructional media, instructional design, and distance education. Please direct correspondence to orellana@nova.edu

Elda Kanzki-Veloso is a Professor at Nova Southeastern University’s College of Psychology, counseling department.  Her main responsibilities include teaching and coordinating the practicum and internship placement process for the department. 

Georgina Arguello is an Assistant Dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs for Bilingual Programs and an Associate Professor at Nova Southeastern University’s Abraham S. Fischler College of Education and School of Criminal Justice. She teaches online and blended doctoral-level courses for domestic and bilingual students.

Katarzyna Wojnas completed her master’s and is completing her doctorate in clinical psychology at Nova Southeastern University's College of Psychology. 


This study was funded by Nova Southeastern University’s 2021-2022 President’s Faculty Research and Development Grant, scholar track, awarded to the project titled “Students’ Experiences Using Live Captions and Subtitles in Class Presentations.”

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