What is the difference between subtitling and closed captioning, you may ask?
Basically, subtitles assume your audience can hear the audio but require the dialogue to be provided in text form as well.
While closed captioning assumes your audience can’t hear the audio and requires a text description of what they would otherwise be hearing.
Subtitling for the deaf and hearing-impaired is the transcription of spoken dialogue in a video.
This type of subtitling distinguishes itself from standard subtitling as it contains additional information, including sound effects and speaker identifications, as well as onscreen text transcription.
Caption formatting: text, size, font, and placement.
This type of subtitling assumes that viewers do not have hearing difficulties. Only the spoken dialogue is subtitled.
Subtitles act as an alternative to voice-overs for your localised and translated videos and offer a quick way of providing multilingual video content.
Increased SEO and ROI
Discovery Digital Networks, in partnership with 3PlayMedia, decided to test the theory of improved SEO and ROI with video captioning. Closed captions were created for eight of their channels.
In the first 14 days after adding closed captions, they registered a 13.48% increase in views.
Next, captions were switched on and off for some of the days. The traffic was visibly lower on the days that the captions were off. The lifetime increase in views stabilised at a substantial 7.32%.
The SEO studies conducted by Discovery Digital Networks, This American Life and SafeNet help to measure and record the benefits of captioning and transcription.
The documented increase in views, search traffic, user engagement and search rank clearly prove that captioning has a significant impact.
Closed caption videos in the classroom
According to a study done by the Journal of Instructional Pedagogies, closed captions were originally developed to help the hearing impaired. In addition, closed captioned videos were also widely used to benefit English as second language learners (Zamoon, 1996).
Prior research finds that closed captions improve English language learners’ listening and reading comprehension skills (Markham & Peter, 2003), students’ attention and motivation, and reduces students’ anxiety (Vanderplank, 1988).
Language learners performed significantly better in objective vocabulary testing when they watched closed caption videos versus no caption videos and reported that they were able to integrate previous knowledge and process presented information much more effectively with closed caption videos (Winke, Gass, & Sydorenko, 2010).
Various empirical research studies reveal that closed captions also benefits children, college students, and adults who don’t have hearing impairment or limited English skills in their comprehension and memorization of video contents via increased attention (Gernsbarcher, 2015).
The studies showed that closed captions improved research participants’ ability to recall brand information about television advertisements (Brasel & Gips, 2014) and film dialogue (Hinkin, Harris, & Miranda 2014), and enhanced their reading comprehension (Griffin & Dumestre, 1992-1993).
Eye tracking studies find that participants attended to closed captions and were able to read closed captions with ease (d’Ydewalle, Praet, Verfaillie, & van Rensbergen, 1991; d’Ydewalle & de Bruycker, 2007).
Many believe that close captioned videos are intended to help the hearing impaired or non-native English speakers, but the extant research demonstrates that closed captioned videos also benefit literate capable adults with no hearing impairment (Gernsbarcher, 2015). This study proposes that the use of closed caption videos in college classes can enhance students’ learning experience.
Closed Captions benefit everyone
According to the NCBI, more than 100 empirical studies, listed in the appendix, document the benefits of captions.
These studies report benefits to a wide swath of participants as measured by a wide swath of criteria: summarising main ideas (Markham, 2000–2001), recalling facts (Brasel & Gips, 2014), drawing inferences (Linebarger et al., 2010), defining words (Griffin & Dumestre, 1992–1993), identifying emotions (Murphy-Berman & Whobrey, 1983), and of course, answering multiple-choice comprehension questions (Hinkin, Harris, & Miranda, 2014; Markham & Peter, 2002–2003; Murphy-Berman & Jorgensen, 1980).
The numerous empirical studies referenced in the appendix demonstrate that captions benefit everyone who watches videos, from younger children to older adults.
Captions are particularly beneficial to persons watching videos in their non-native language, children and adults learning to read, and persons who are D/deaf or hard of hearing.
Gernsbacher M. A. (2015). Video Captions Benefit Everyone. Policy insights from the behavioral and brain sciences, 2(1), 195–202. https://doi.org/10.1177/2372732215602130