Can-Do-Ability: Answers and Solutions from my personal experiences of living with a disability

Start adding captions to your videos

15 Mar 2016Since I started adding captions to my videos for the Let's Get Working blog, whenever I watch a video on Facebook or YouTube I check to see if captions have been added. They're usually missing and this should be changed.

The common assumption is that captions are only for the deaf or hearing impaired. But this isn't the case. A study from 2006 done in the UK found that 80% of closed caption users in the UK had no hearing disability. When you make something accessible everyone benefits. I find showing someone what they stand to benefit from increased accessibility makes them more likely to take action.

Increased Accessibility

The increased accessibility captions bring to a video means that you can watch a video in a noisy location such as a train, or location where you have to be quite such as a library. When at work I could turn up the volume or get my headphones out and listen to what is being said in a video. But often I find it easier to view a video's captions. This way I don't disrupt those around me, and I don't make myself less approachable to others by having headphones in my ears.

The noise in your environment isn't the only thing that can making it difficult to hear a video, the noise quality of the video its self can create problems. The sound quality of the video or output of the viewing device may be poor or distorted.

In addition to the quality of the sound, the content may be difficult to follow. A person's accent, how often they mumble, or the speed at which they talk may throw people off. Finally they may be learning the language and the words on the screen can help them whenever they aren't sure what they heard. This can all be solved by captioning what people are saying. Written words don't leave any room for confusion.

Increased Viewer engagement

When people can't hear what is being said in your video it should be no surprise that they aren't going to be engaged. But when you add captions suddenly you have access to a much wider community than you did before. Social media is all about making engaging content. So why pass up the opportunity to reach more people.

If you're putting a video online, I'm guessing you're going to use YouTube. It's the most commonly used video platform. Adding captions to videos on YouTube is easy. You type up what you want on the appear on the screen and set what time index it should appear. That simple. It also lets you download your captions in multiple formats. So you can add them to videos on other platforms, such as videos uploaded to Facebook.

I'm guessing the reason people don't add captions to their videos is the additional time required. Or, maybe they think it will be too hard. But I think an extra 30 minutes of my time is worth it if it improves the viewing experience of my videos.

People want to get involved. But they can't if you don't make it accessible to them.

BBC Article on the 2006 Ofcom study - The joy of subtitles

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