DVD Closed Captions vs Subtitles: What’s the Difference?

DVD Closed Captions vs. Subtitles: The Difference Explained for Content Creators

As a content creator, you want your videos to be accessible and easy to understand for all viewers, regardless of their hearing abilities or native languages. That’s why deciding between using DVD closed captions or subtitles can be critical to the success of your video content.

Some people may interchangeably use the terms “closed captions” and “subtitles.” Still, they are not the same thing, and understanding the differences between the two can help you make informed decisions when adding text to your videos.

What are Closed Captions?

First, let’s talk about closed captions. Closed captions are a transcription of the audio content of a video, but with added contextual information related to sound effects, music, and speaker identification. They are designed to provide access to the video content for individuals who may be deaf or hard of hearing, but they are also helpful for people who may be watching in a loud environment or have difficulty understanding certain accents.

Closed captions are typically accessed through a control on the video player or TV, and they can be turned on or off by the viewer. They are also usually synchronized with the video’s audio, providing a more natural and seamless experience.

What are Subtitles?

Subtitles, on the other hand, are text translations of the video’s dialogues and on-screen text for viewers who do not understand the language spoken in the video. They are designed to provide access to the video content for individuals who do not speak the video’s language, but they can also benefit people who have hearing impairments.

Subtitles are typically burned into the video during editing, so they cannot be turned on or off by the viewer. However, they do not include contextual information, such as sound effects or speaker identification, which can make it more challenging to understand the video’s full context.

Which One is Better?

So, which one should you choose for your video content? The answer depends on your audience and the purpose of your video.

If your target audience is international or multilingual, subtitles can help them understand the video’s content even if they do not speak its original language. If you are working on a documentary or a film with critical dialogue or narration, subtitles may be a better option than closed captions. Additionally, subtitles may be easier to read, as they are typically displayed in larger fonts and have more straightforward translations.

On the other hand, if your target audience includes individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, closed captions are the way to go. They provide a complete and accurate transcription of the video’s audio content, including speaker identification and contextual information. Additionally, closed captions are required by law in some cases, such as when working with federal agencies or broadcasting on TV.

It is essential to note that closed captions and subtitles can coexist in the same video content. You can add a subtitle track for international viewers and a closed caption track for hearing-impaired or noisy environments. Using both options can expand your video’s reach and accessibility, making it accessible to a more significant number of people.


In summary, closed captions and subtitles serve different purposes for video accessibility. Closed captions are designed to provide access to hearing-impaired individuals, while subtitles are intended for viewers who do not speak the video’s language. As a content creator, it is essential to understand the differences between these two features so that you can make informed decisions when adding text to your videos.

Remember that both closed captions and subtitles can coexist in the same video, providing maximum accessibility and convenience to your viewers. By utilizing these features, you can ensure your video content reaches a broader audience and remains accessible for everyone.

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