One often overlooked aspect of video is captioning. While people often run into and actively use captions all the time on social media, when it comes to creating their own work, captions are the last thing one thinks of – and in the past, we were definitely included in this!
A survey of U.S. consumers found that 92% view videos with the sound off on mobile and 83% watch with sound off
According to a study by Verizon and Publicis Media
In this quick blog post, we’ll cover what captioning is as well as a few reasons it shouldn’t be an afterthought to your video!
What Captioning Is
The National Association of the Deaf defines captioning as, “the process of converting the audio content of a television broadcast, webcast, film, video, CD-ROM, DVD, live event, or other production into text and displaying the text on a screen…” This not only involves displaying text on-screen as an exact equivalent of spoken word, but also identifies music type, speaker, and sound effects – making it as close to the non-audio equivalent of a video as possible.
On the commercial end, the process usually involves sending a video file to a service like Rev which then assigns that video to a freelancer to meticulously go through and add captions and descriptions.
Captioning Importance is on the Rise
If there is one thing not in doubt, it is that the importance of captioning is growing. Not only is this due to the growing number of individuals in the deaf and hard of hearing community, but an additional aspect to take into consideration is social media viewership.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Population
Captioning videos isn’t just nice, it is also growingly expected and slowly becoming a legal precedent. While captions do benefit all which we’ll talk about more below, they strongly assist in creating an equitable online landscape for Deaf and hard-of-hearing communities. In total, 35 million people across the US report having at least some level of difficulty hearing, with 600,000 of those being completely deaf.
Hearing loss has been around for as long as humans have, and recently the World Health Organization (WHO) has projected the amount of the population affected by hearing loss to be increasing quickly. In the United States, this has been linked to increased headphone usage as well as noise pollution in urban centers.
With this growth in the Deaf and hard of hearing community comes what we consider to be a growing moral obligation to provide equitable experiences in our and our clients’ work.
Technology is Rapidly Changing
It is well known, especially of late, that technology and its uses increase far more rapidly than the law can keep up with. In the US, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has become an increased sight in recent lawsuits which have generally sided in favor of online content accessibility, deeming them places of public accommodation.
These public accommodations are often ruled to include captioning for videos that are viewed by any type of audience. While the ADA does not explicitly cover captioning for videos, it is fairly apparent that that is where the law is heading.
Video Viewership is Up in All Metrics
It is no shocker that the use of online video, specifically for marketing and entertainment, is on the rise – and rising more quickly than most other content. Over the course of just today, more video has been uploaded to sites like YouTube than was created on all of television prior to the 2010’s.
41% of videos are incomprehensible without captions.
A 2018 poll by Nielsen found that the average US adult spends 11 hours of their day being connected to some form of media, with 6 of those hours being dedicated to video. This may seem like a lot, but think about it – how often have you been scrolling through Facebook or Instagram on your lunch break and found a video pop up on your feed? If you are like the overwhelming majority of mobile users, that video likely did not play with sound on, leaving either you to wonder just what the heck the video producers were trying to get across, or read the captions. With 41% of videos being completely incomprehensible without sound or captions – you can quickly see why adding captions to your video projects is vital.