Catherine Grinyer

October 23, 2021

Optimising your content with the best caption type

Captions are a must-include for accessible online content, but how do you know which type to use?  As experts in inclusive events,  Attendable can help. Below is an at a glance glossary, outlining the pros and cons of different caption options, so that you can confidently improve the accessibility of your content.  

Captions provide a written version of all sound. For any viewer with hearing difficulties, captions are essential, because they work on the basis that the viewer cannot hear any audio. As such as well as dialogue, they describe other audio cues, including voice tone, music etc.  

Subtitles are a written translation of what’s been spoken, but no other audio detail. Subtitles work well for viewing content in a foreign language, but have limited value in terms of accessibility.  

Closed Captions are the most flexible because they can be switched on or off, depending on viewer preference. Increasingly, many platforms offer automated closed captions, where voice recognition technology transcribes a text version of the spoken content. Although the quality of output can vary, this is a significant step in terms of wider accessibility. It’s worth noting though, that not all platforms currently support closed captions. In addition, the onus being on the viewer to operate the closed captions function, can act as a barrier to accessibility. 

Live Captions software enable viewers to automatically see real-time captions of audio on their device. With some Live Caption functions, a full transcript can also be obtained once the captioning is complete. This means that Live Captions have useful practical application in education. There are quality variances in the captions produced in this way and the sound quality of the audio output can affect what viewers read. 

Open Captions are embedded into video content and as such whilst they do not require the viewer to enable them, they cannot be switched off.  

Re-Speaking is a technique which can be used to produce either Closed or Open Captions, both in real time or for pre-recorded content. Re-speakers repeat audio into trained voice recognition software, and they can differentiate between speakers, punctuate and edit text live. 

Put simply, adding the optimal captions to your content can greatly improve viewer experience, for the widest audience possible. For more guidance on making your event accessible, get in touch with us today.  

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