Blog - November 2018 - Why You Shouldn't Ignore Subtitles

When we post a new video to Youtube it can be an exciting time as we proudly upload our latest creation and enter those settings such as title, tags and description in preparation for the viewing pleasure of our audience.

There is though one option that will make a more of a difference to the viewing pleasure of some of your audience than any key word or description. That audience are those people who are hard of hearing and rely on subtitles, or closed captions, to make up for what they are unable to hear. Without this text they’re unlikely to watch your latest piece of work because they’re only getting half of the experience. I know one deaf person who wouldn’t watch anything unless subtitles were available.

When we upload to Youtube it has a feature which automatically adds subtitles however in my experience, whilst it has a good go at getting the words right, there can be some errors in the text which would spoil the experience of the deaf viewer because well, frankly the text just isn’t accurate enough. The quality of this text may be enough to put some people off from watching the rest of your production altogether. Therefore as part of the upload process it makes sense to spend some time reviewing that text and correcting any errors, which could be an incorrect word, incorrect spelling or not quite fitting with the text as it’s spoken on the screen.

It’s also an opportunity to expand on what Youtube includes by adding text that describes some of the sounds that the automatic process is unable to do. For instance, if there is a piece of music that sets a mood, then adding a description of this gives the deaf viewer an enhanced understanding of the video. What about other sounds such as a gunshot, thunder or the sounds of animals? All could be important to the story. To get a good idea of what good subtitles look like, try watching a tv programme with the subtitles switched on and see how these work with the spoken word and with sound and mood.

Going the extra mile to get these subtitles right adds a level of kudos and polish to the final production which many people in your audience will really appreciate.

All images © 2018 Peter Hatter
Article Date - November 2018
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