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When are Subtitles and Captioning Required: A Guide for Content Creators

Closed captioning is a legal requirement in the UK and US for all nationally broadcast media. This includes satellite television providers, terrestrial, digital and cable companies. The obligation for closed captioning is a growing industry. Closed captioning is now often included in movie theatres, cinemas, DVD’s and most educational videos. This begs the question, when is captioning required?

The increasing multimedia content on the web and various platforms has made it abundantly clear that accessibility is not just an add-on, but an essential aspect of content creation. Incorporating subtitles and captioning ensures that your content is inclusive and reaches a wider audience. As a content creator, digital marketer, or video producer, understanding when to implement these elements can make a significant impact.

Importance of accessibility in content creation

Creating content is no longer just about conveying a message; it’s about ensuring that everyone can access and understand that message. Accessibility enhances user experience and opens doors to a diverse audience, including those with hearing disabilities and non-native speakers of the language in your content.

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Understanding Subtitles

Definition and purpose of subtitles

Subtitles are text overlays on video content providing a written representation of the dialogue and other relevant audio. They are instrumental for viewers who might not understand the spoken language, helping them follow along with the audio of the video.

Benefits of using subtitles in videos

Subtitles not only break language barriers but also allow users to engage with videos in sound-sensitive environments. They’ve become a valuable tool in globalising content and are also beneficial for learning foreign languages.

Definition and purpose of subtitles

Subtitles are text overlays on video content providing a written representation of the dialogue and other relevant audio. They are instrumental for viewers who might not understand the spoken language, helping them follow along with the audio of the video.

Benefits of using subtitles in videos

Subtitles not only break language barriers but also allow users to engage with videos in sound-sensitive environments. They’ve become a valuable tool in globalising content and are also beneficial for learning foreign languages.

 

When are Subtitles Required?

Legal requirements for providing subtitles

In many countries, there are legal requirements for subtitles to ensure that all programming is accessible to individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. Content creators must be aware of such legislation in their regions, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or the UK’s Equality Act.

Situations where subtitles are necessary for better understanding

Subtitles are indispensable in noisy environments, in spaces where audio is muted by necessity, and for educational content where precision and recapitulation are key.

Benefits of using subtitles for non-native speakers

For global content or content with a diverse target audience, subtitles play a crucial role in providing equal access to all.

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Understanding Captioning

Do I need Open Captioning or Closed Captioning

Open captioning is similar to closed captioning in the sense that the information when displayed is the same. However, open captions are part of the video itself, meaning that they are permanently on display. Open captions and cannot be switched off. Closed captioning is a subtitle or caption file that is created separately from the video itself. They can be turned on or off depending on as the viewer requires. One of the advantages of closed captioning is that they can also be translated. Translated captions offer the viewer the choice of many different languages, all within the same video file.

What is Closed Captioning Used For?

Closed captioning is the inclusion of synced onscreen text for video. It is used for viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing. Captioning includes both the spoken dialogue within a video as well as a description for any audio that is part of the plot or narrative. Thisis not always visible or obvious to deaf people (think [thunder roars] or [doorbell rings]. Closed captioning ensures that everyone who watches a film or video has an equal opportunity to enjoy the content. Whether it be an online educational video or nationally broadcast sitcom.

Definition and purpose of captioning

Captioning goes a step further than subtitles by not only transcribing the spoken content but also including descriptions of background noises, indications of who is speaking, and other auditory cues that are essential for people who rely on visual material.

Differences between subtitles and captioning

While subtitles primarily cater to those who do not understand the language, captions are designed to cater to people with hearing loss by providing a textual analogue of the auditory experience.

What Are the Advantages of Closed Captions?

The most important advantage of closed captions are that they allow everyone to enjoy your video content. This is regardless of whether the view has hearing loss, speaks another language or would prefer to watch video without sound. Other advantages include SEO (search engine optimisation benefits) and a greater opportunity to grow your audience.

Can Closed Captions Be Included for Live Video

Closed captions are a legal requirement for all broadcast video. They can be added to live video (such as news or magazine programmes). This can be performed either by a real time stenographer (fully trained and experienced in stenography and shorthand). Or via speech recognition software. Although speech recognition software is a cheaper option when it comes to live captioning, it can produce mistakes (sometimes embarrassing mistakes) to the extent of the dialogue at times making no sense at all. Live subtitling and captioning is never as accurate as general closed captioning or subtitling.

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When is Captioning Required?

Legal requirements for providing captions

Similar to subtitles, various laws mandate the provision of captioning for content, particularly that which is broadcasted publicly or made available on major platforms. Compliance with these regulations can help avoid legal concerns and create a more inclusive environment.

Situations where captioning is necessary for accessibility

Captioning is essential for live events, educational resources, and public broadcasts, ensuring that everyone has access to vital information, entertainment, and educational content regardless of hearing ability.

Benefits of using captions for individuals with hearing impairments

Captions ensure that individuals with hearing impairments can engage fully with video content, understanding not just the dialogue but also the context and emotional tone conveyed by non-verbal audio cues.

When Is Captioning Required? The Future of Captioning

Captioning services are fast becoming quicker and easier to produce and add to video, meaning that even someone unfamiliar with the subtitling software can produce closed captions quite easily with a transcript and automated software (although this can of course compromise accuracy of timings). Captioning is also becoming popular for online video conferencing, telephone calls and for services such as Skype, Facetime and the like. It has even been suggested that radio should offer captioning via online subtitling and transcripts, to ensure that discrimination is prohibited at all costs and content is available to everyone and anyone that wants it.

If you would like more information about closed captioning, subtitling, transcription services for video or translation services, why not get in touch? We are available seven days a week and always happy to help.

Best Practices for Subtitles and Captioning

Tips for creating accurate and effective subtitles

Accuracy in subtitles is paramount. It’s important to synchronise the text with the audio and to ensure that the text is as verbatim as possible while still being concise.

Techniques for adding proper captions to videos

Captions should include cues for all significant audio, not just speech. This includes sound effects and music cues, which can be described in square brackets or with other indicators.

Tools and resources for generating subtitles and captions

Numerous tools and services are available for generating subtitles and captions, from automatic services like YouTube’s auto-captioning feature to professional software and transcription services. We recommend using professional services for accuracy.

Importance of considering subtitles and captioning for inclusive content creation

In our advancing digital landscape, subtitles and captioning should be at the forefront of content creation strategy for inclusivity. By embracing these elements, you can ensure that your content fulfils accessibility standards and resonates with a broader audience.

Recap of key points and call to action for implementing subtitles and captioning in content

Remember the importance of accessibility in Content, know when captioning is required, and understand when subtitles are needed. These considerations can widen your content’s reach and impart greater impact. Don’t overlook this crucial aspect of video production – make subtitles and captioning a default practice in your content creation.

Engage with your audience inclusively and comprehensively by always making your content accessible to all.

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For more information about our transcription services, translation services, subtitling services or closed captioning services, get in touch. We also provide transcription for dictations and discuss the pros and cons of using speech recognition software.