Accessibility 101: Can Screen Readers Read Closed Captions?

Can Screen Readers Read Closed Captions?

If you’re a content creator and have ever wondered whether screen readers can read closed captions, you are not alone. With increasing awareness and accessibility compliance guidelines, it is crucial to ensure that audio and video content are accessible to everyone regardless of their ability. In this blog post, we will explore the ins and outs of screen readers and closed captions, answer some frequently asked questions, and provide tips on making your content accessible.

What are Screen Readers and Closed Captions?

Screen readers are assistive technology software that reads content out loud to visually impaired or blind users. These users rely on screen readers to navigate and access digital content. Closed captions, on the other hand, are the text displayed on top or bottom of the video or audio content that provides a transcript of the audio for the viewers.

Can Screen Readers Read Closed Captions?

The short answer is no; screen readers cannot read closed captions. However, that doesn’t mean that closed captions are not useful for individuals with disabilities. Closed captions are essential for those who are hard of hearing or deaf and rely on the text to access the audio content.

It is important to note that screen readers and closed captions support different accessibility needs. While screen readers assist visually impaired users, closed captions support individuals who are hard of hearing. Therefore, to make your audio or video content accessible, both need to be included.

Benefits of Including Closed Captions

Apart from accessibility compliance considerations, adding closed captions has other benefits. Closed captions help boost your video’s SEO, making it easier for search engines to index the content and rank higher on search results. Additionally, it helps the viewers to quickly scan through the content and better understand the context even in noisy environments or low volume settings.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Can screen readers read subtitles?
A. Screen readers cannot read subtitles as they are more like translations to a different language instead of a transcription of the audio content.

Q. Do I need to add both closed captions and transcripts?
A. Adding closed captions fulfill the requirements of providing a transcript for the audio content. However, it is good practice to include transcripts for those who cannot access the video or want to go back and read the content again.

Q. Do I need to add closed captions to my videos that are only available on YouTube or other streaming platforms?
A. Yes, it would be best to add closed captions to all video content regardless of the platform they are available on. It helps make the content accessible to everyone, irrespective of where they access the content.

Tips for Making Your Content Accessible

Here are some tips for making your content accessible for visually impaired or hard of hearing users:

1. Use descriptive language to describe images or infographics for screen readers
2. Use simple language and avoid jargons
3. Include both closed captions and transcripts
4. Ensure the closed captions are accurate and include proper formatting
5. Keep the background noise to a minimum in your video or audio content
6. Test the accessibility of your content using various accessibility tools

In conclusion, screen readers and closed captions support different accessibility needs; while screen readers help visually impaired users, closed captions provide access to the audio for hard of hearing users. To make your content accessible, it is essential to add both closed captions and transcripts. Additionally, adding closed captions helps boost your video’s SEO and provides a better user experience overall. Follow the tips mentioned above to make your content more accessible and inclusive.

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