Whether you already use closed captioning, you’re not sure if you need one, or you’re new to it, you need to be acquainted with different kinds of closed captioning software since it can benefit your business in many ways.
More than five percent of the world’s population suffers from hearing loss. Closed caption is a very important element in video accessibility. Without it, millions of people dealing with hearing loss would not be able to engage with your content.
Considering that more video is uploaded on the internet every month compared to what’s created for TV in three decades, there is a need to make these videos accessible. The best way to do this is to find out more about closed captioning software.
When Did Closed Captioning Begin?
It took more than four decades since the invention of the TV for people to add closed captioning to shows. The idea behind this is to make programs more accessible for those who are hard of hearing and deaf.
Closed captioning started in the early 1970s when the National Bureau of Standards and ABC presented the necessary technology to enable it, and as you may have expected, it became revolutionary.
Closed captioning first debuted on the hit show “The French Chef” hosted by Julia Child. This became the catalyst for closed captioning to appear on every program on television, and by the end of the century, it had become a legal mandate.
What Is Closed Captioning?
Closed captions refer to the textual representation of any media’s audio. This allows people with hearing disabilities to understand the video as a substitute for sound. The text within a closed caption consists of speech, but it can also include non-verbal elements such as sound effects and speaker IDs that are crucial so people can understand what the flow of the show or movie is. Closed captions are also referred to as CC.
Are Closed Captions and Subtitles the Same?
On the surface, subtitles and closed captions may look identical, but it’s not the same. Choosing between subtitles and closed captions can have a very noticeable impact on how viewers can understand your media, and your decision to include closed captions can also reflect your brand’s values.
Although they look mostly similar, the two are designed with a different purpose in mind. Subtitles give viewers a text alternative to the media’s dialogue. This includes the spoken words or narrators, guests, and other characters. On the other hand, closed captions are not just limited to showing the dialogue, but also background noises such as horns honking and phones ringing.
In short, subtitles assume that everyone can hear the audio, and they just need to read the dialogue in text form. However, closed captioning assumes the opposite. It assumes that people cannot hear what is presented and spoken on the media, so they need a text description to make the viewing experience more seamless.
The Difference Between Closed Captions and Open Captions
If you’re familiar with closed captions, you’re probably wondering how it is different with open captions. The difference between the two lies in user control. Open captions do not give viewers control to turn the captions on and off since it is burned into the video. However, closed captions are only placed in the video as an additional element. Because it is a separate asset, people can turn it on or off.
Closed captioning will allow your viewers to have more control. Both types of captions are time-consuming to do, so it is recommended to hire a trusted professional that knows how the different types of closed captioning software work.
What Is Automatic Speech Recognition?
Automatic Speech Recognition or ASR translates all spoken words in any media without human help automatically. The transcripts this technology generates usually have a lot of inconsistencies, so it does not usually pass the closed caption quality standard. However, it is fast and cheap. Therefore, it’s a good rough draft for professionals. If you want to give your audience the best transcript, it is recommended to hire a professional transcriptionist that follows techniques in writing closed captions.
Adding ASR to your workflow when making closed captions will cut your labor by more than half. On average, a transcriptionist can only type 50 words per hour, and so it will take hours for them to complete a video from scratch. A closed captioning software will take the bulk of their work so they can focus more on editing.
Closed Captioning Software You Can Use
We’ve rounded up some reliable closed captioning software below.
YouTube Closed Captioning Software
With billions of users, YouTube provides a captioning software that can cover those who post and watch content on the platform. Creating your closed captions on YouTube is very straightforward. After uploading the video, captioning options can be accessed in Creator Studio. You can enter languages or sounds on it, although it needs to be done manually. YouTube’s closed captioning software also has auto-generated captions and auto-sync. However, it’s not accurate.
AHD Subtitles maker
This closed captioning software is free for Windows users. This helpful Software creates text subtitles without scripts. After downloading, it’s very easy to trim the text using a video editor. It also uses Google Translate to convert the text to various languages. Although it is effective, the process is mostly manual. The software also works with very limited formats, so it’s hard to sync it to other devices because of compatibility issues.
If you’re looking for free software to use, this is a great option since it allows you to correct, convert, and refine what is already in your content. It has an audio wave feature that allows you to target various parts of the audio. It also offers translations. After you download this closed captioning software, you need to type in the captions yourself. Just like AHD Subtitles maker, the collaboration options, file formats, and conversions are also very limited. Thankfully, it is compatible with Mac.
DivxLand Media Subtitler
This closed captioning software is a great tool for brands and video producers. Compared to other software in the market, this provides more comprehensive features. It’s free, and it supports over 30 formats. It also has automatic caption correction and time setting features. However, you have to enter the caption yourself and sync it to the proper time code. This software is not compatible with Mac.
Importance of Accuracy in Closed Captioning Software
The industry follows a 99 percent accuracy rate for closed captions. The accuracy includes grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Meaning, in a 1,500-word closed caption, the margin of error should only be between zero to 15.
What will happen if your closed caption has a lower rate than that? It will become very hard to accurately convey the plot of complex material. Most closed captioning software has an accuracy rate of only 80 percent, so transcriptionists need to double-check it. For example, some closed captioning software may have an error in a period or comma, and while this may seem very minor, it can change the meaning of the sentence.
The inaccuracy of closed captioning software comes with so many costs. First, it can mean more work for businesses. Next, it can also affect your viewer’s reading comprehension, especially when it comes to educational videos where even the most minor mistake misinforms people.
Inaccurate closed captioning is also very dangerous for your brand since more people would not trust a business that has had spelling and grammatical errors on its marketing material. In the long run, it can cost you millions. Today, it is vital for your online brand to be perfect, and captions are a major part of it. Because of this, you need to make sure that you are generating a good impression by using perfect closed captioning.
More About Standards
Several organizations have released standards to ensure that closed captions in all media can be accessible to hard-of-hearing and deaf individuals.
The Described and Captioned Media program
Also called DCMP, this refers to a set of guidelines that outline the best practices in captioning. The philosophy of this program is that all captioning should have as much of the language in the video as possible. The words and phrases that may be unfamiliar to the audience should not be traded with simply synonyms. However, it is possible to edit the original captions to ensure that they can be completely read and become synchronized to the audio.
The DCMP states that caption quality includes accurateness, consistency, clarity, readability, and equity.
The guidelines of FCC are based on timing, placement, completeness, and accuracy. This standard applies to pre-recorded, near-live, and live video programming. When it comes to accuracy, the FCC states that the closed caption should match the spoken words fully. This includes all slang and accent, as well as non-speech elements. More leniency applies to live captioning. Aside from that, the closed caption should also be synchronized and complete. It must not drop off at any part of the media. Finally, it should be placed in a part where it does not block important visual content.
There is also a Web Content Accessibility Guidelines or WCAG that focuses on web accessibility, especially on platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. The WCAG 2.0 is the most commonly used guideline, and it consists of three compliance levels – Level A, AA, and AAA.
The Importance of Closed Captioning
Millions of videos are uploaded every day on social media, and people expect to see videos from brands they love and support. If you are banking on video content, you should make it accessible for everyone. The different types of closed captioning software will allow your audience to have an improved user experience.