Top Reasons Why You Should Be Using Video Captions
These days the idea of making your content “mobile friendly” is top-of-mind for many of us in the content-generation business, but are you also thinking about making it as “people-friendly” as you can? You probably already know that as a best practice you should strive to make sure that your content is accessible to as many people as possible, but you may not be considering captions as part of that accessibility strategy. Here’s why you should.
Who Will Benefit From My Video Captions?
The Hearing Impaired
According to the National Association for the Deaf, there are somewhere around 36 million Americans who are deaf or hard of hearing — that’s a lot of people who you may not be reaching with your multimedia content if you miss out on captioning. I’ve heard first-hand the frustration from hard-of-hearing friends when they encounter a popular video post which they’re not able to get the most out of because the captions are nonexistent. By removing this barrier for people with hearing impairments, you expand your audience and make them more likely to engage with your content.
Also, consider those who may not speak English as a first language. If you’re anything like me, even if you speak a second language moderately well, native speakers can still sound incomprehensible when talking quickly, using slang, or even when they have a slight regional accent. Captions can help those in your audience who might not otherwise catch 100% of what you’re trying to convey.
The Public At-Large
Finally, you’ll reach those of us who just can’t be bothered to turn up the volume. I’m one of those curmudgeons (you may be, too) who nearly always has the volume turned down on their phone or laptop. The huge number of websites with autoplay videos has turned me into someone who will only un-mute if the content is *extraordinary* (or if it promises an adorable laughing baby). Plenty of people consume content everywhere they go, but not every place is conducive to playing audio — nobody wants to be that person on the bus, the one who you know for a fact is watching a movie trailer because. you. can. hear. it. from 30 feet away. Making sure users can read your content as well see it is much more practical in today’s mobile world.
OK – you’ve convinced me. I should be using video captions.
But Cori, you ask, what about automated captions? We’re living in the future, a magical time when I can ask the invisible lady inside my phone questions – do I need to manually sit there and type out every single video?
ABC – Always Be Captioning
I won’t pretend to understand the bond you have with Siri, but I will tell you that YES you should be manually creating your captions rather than relying on auto-transcription capabilities, and I’m going to tell you why. Anyone who has ever tried decipher a Google Voice auto-transcription or struggled to get their phone’s voice-to-text function to accurately record their thoughts will know that, while word-recognition and transcription technology can be impressive in some cases, it’s got a long way to go.
If your video has any sort of music, background noise, or features colloquial language, multiple speakers, or even a speaker who has a mild accent, relying on auto-captions can lead to confusion. You might not think it’s a big deal… until you discover the auto-captions have transformed your video touting “the cutest dress” into an ad for “acute distress” — not exactly the image you want to be conveying.
Video Captioning and SEO
Of course, if my arguments for creating accessible content haven’t swayed you, there’s one more great reason to caption your web videos: SEO. And you’ll be glad to know that user-created captions — on YouTube in particular — are indexed by search engines as they crawl for content. And, you should know that, if you’ve ignored my advice and are relying on auto-generated captions, you’re missing out on another source of traffic, since those automatically generated subtitles are not currently indexed by Google.
Do you have any captioning software recommendations? Any success stories? Horror stories? Let us know!