Broaden Your Online Video’s Reach: The 4-1-1 on Captioning for the Web

Captioning for the Internet

Video marketing and webcasting are two great tools for conveying your message on the Internet.  However, if you are not using captioning, you might be missing out on new markets. For example, consider the hearing impaired and foreign-language speakers.

If you are a government entity, then you are already very familiar with captioning for internet video assets. Back in 1998, legislation was passed requiring all federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities ( ). Plus, Washington has taken a more active role helping the hearing impaired with their 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010. Many large corporations are following suit by mandating that all in-house webcasts and videos are closed-captioned.

Two Types of Captioning

Captioning generally comes in two flavors:  live/real-time and post-event. Real-time captioning takes place while the event is happening with a caption writer listening in on the live webcast. Real-time captioning usually has a 2-3 second delay between the audio and the captions appearing on screen. Post-event captioning involves caption writers listening to a recorded event or video and timing the captions to the audio.

A real-time caption writer for webcasting will use an Internet connection to send captions to a client’s platform through a chat module or using a text streaming service. As the captioner listens to the audio from the webcast, he or she transcribes what is being said using specialized equipment while simultaneously adding punctuation. This process captures the spoken audio of a webcast and displays grammatically correct words on the screen. Most real-time caption writers achieve 98% accuracy.

Post-event captioning is actually more labor intensive and is generally more costly than real-time captioning. Post-event captioning requires 2-3 runs over the audio to capture the words at 100% accuracy. The captions are then time-stamped with the audio/video and are synced to display at the exact frame the words are spoken in. These captions can be centered on the lower third of the video or placed anywhere in the video unlike real-time captions.

Foreign-language Captions

To serve the foreign-language viewers, videos and webcasts can be transcribed in the original language and then be translated into the target language. The translated words can then be placed post-event within the video at the exact location the original words are spoken.  For real-time foreign language captions, the host must have an interpreter interpret into the foreign language and then use a caption writer in the target language to enter the captions. There is usually a slightly longer delay for foreign-language captions to appear on the screen due to interpretation lags.

Where to Use Captions

Captions can be used in almost any video or webcast. Here is a quick list of the content you might want to have captioned:

  • Seminars
  • Lectures
  • Interviews
  • Focus Groups
  • Presentations
  • Training
  • Business Meetings
  • YouTube Videos

Using captions can make your content more accessible and open new markets for your products or services. Where can you use captions to reach more people?