Is your content inclusive and accessible to the maximum audience possible? Captioning and Subtitling your videos is an easy, effective way to cover all your bases.

Simply put, captions are a transcription of dialogue and sounds displayed on the bottom of the screen during TV shows, movies and other video media. Captions are not to be confused with subtitles, which assume the viewer can hear, and are a translation of foreign-language dialogue only, (no sound effect descriptions). There are two main types of captions – open and closed. Basically, closed captions are those that can be toggled on and off, while open captions are burned into the video itself.

Alberto Contador interview with translated captions.

Standalone closed caption files can come in a wide variety of formats, depending on use and formatting. Some caption types handle formatting such as italicized, bold, etc, while some are better suited for different fonts, or placements of the captions on the screen. Your editor will know which caption type you need, and in the event that you need to change formats, there are many free websites that can easily convert from one format to another. The website / platform you are uploading your captioned media to will also outline the ideal caption type.

Why should you caption your videos?

Not captioning your video assumes that your viewers all are hearing-abled, English speaking, and in an environment where they’re able to watch video with sound. Additionally, without captions you’re potentially appealing to only 20% of your audience – over 80% of videos on Facebook are viewed with the sound off, not to mention those who may be deaf or hard of hearing, and non-native English speakers.

Accessibility is a universal right. Captioning your videos is a small, easy step with a huge impact on a large portion of the population – in fact, over 360 million people worldwide suffer from disabling hearing loss. That is a huge number to consider when thinking about who will and will not be able to benefit from viewing your video content.

Captions over technical data

While this number is massive, what’s even more staggering is that 80% of people who use captions to watch videos aren’t even deaf.  With the rise of smartphones brought us the ability to watch video content anywhere. From too-quiet to too-noisy locations such as public transportation, in a library, a bathroom, a quiet school study hall, or the break room at work, captioned videos allow your audience to watch your content fully in any location, and absorb all the information.  

On the subject of accessibility, the most common use of captions is for the ability for multiple languages. Of the world’s estimated 7.5 billion population, only 20% of that speaks English. Captioning your video in multiple languages allows you to broaden your reach to that other 80% of non-English speakers, allowing for a massive increase in potential audience.  

Additional Benefits of Captions

Something that you might not know, is that captions may also help your video content rank higher in internet search results – YouTube and Google suggest that captioning your videos may improve their search engine optimization (SEO).  Google has algorithms that scan and index web pages’ content to maximize searchability. These algorithms, however, cannot scan videos’ audio for this purpose, so having captions as a part of your video allows you to maximize your visibility in search results, gaining you more traffic to your content.

Captioning and subtitling your videos is a pretty good catch-all for maximizing your video’s reach, ensuring accessibility for people of all nationalities and hearing abilities, and increasing your visibility in search engine results. Ready to get started? Contact us, and we’ll take care of the captions for you!

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