Understanding Closed Captions vs. Subtitles: What’s the Difference?

Closed Captions vs. Subtitles: What Do They Mean and Why Does It Matter for Content Creators?

As a content creator, you have a lot on your plate. You need to come up with ideas, create high-quality content, and ensure that it reaches your target audience. One aspect of content creation that you may not have considered is closed captions and subtitles. What are these terms, and why should you care about them? Let’s find out.

What Are Closed Captions and Subtitles?
Closed captions and subtitles are both forms of text that appear on the screen during a video or film. However, there are some key differences between the two.

Closed captions are designed for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. They provide a verbatim transcription of dialogue and other important sounds, such as music and sound effects. Closed captions are also useful for people who are watching a video in a noisy environment or who simply prefer to read the dialogue instead of listening to it.

Subtitles, on the other hand, are intended for people who can hear the dialogue but may not understand the language. They provide a translation of the dialogue into another language so that viewers can follow along. Subtitles are typically used for foreign films or when a video needs to be translated for an international audience.

Why Use Closed Captions and Subtitles?
Now that you know what closed captions and subtitles are, why should you bother using them in your content?

Accessibility: First and foremost, closed captions are essential for making your content accessible to everyone. There are over 466 million people worldwide who are deaf or hard of hearing, and closed captions make it possible for them to enjoy your content.

Improved SEO: Another benefit of using closed captions and subtitles is that they can improve your search engine optimization (SEO). Search engines can’t “watch” a video to determine its content, but they can read closed captions and subtitles to understand what the video is about. By including closed captions and subtitles in your content, you’re providing valuable text that can help search engines index and rank your content.

Expanded Audience: By providing closed captions and subtitles, you’re also able to reach a wider audience. People who speak other languages or who are learning a new language will appreciate having subtitles to help them understand your content. Additionally, people who are in noisy environments (like a crowded coffee shop) can still watch your video and understand the content.

Legal Compliance: Depending on where you live, providing closed captions may actually be required by law. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that “places of public accommodation” (such as a website) provide “auxiliary aids” like closed captions for people with disabilities.

How to Add Closed Captions and Subtitles to Your Content
Adding closed captions and subtitles to your content doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are some steps you can follow:

Step 1: Create a transcript of your video. This can be done manually or with the help of automated transcription software.

Step 2: Edit the transcript to ensure that it accurately reflects the content of the video. This includes correcting any mistakes made by the software and ensuring that the timing of the captions is correct.

Step 3: Save the transcript as a file. There are several file formats you can use, including SRT, VTT, and SCC.

Step 4: Upload the file to your video hosting platform or website. Most platforms (such as YouTube and Vimeo) have built-in tools for uploading closed captions and subtitles.

Step 5: Test the closed captions and subtitles to ensure that they are accurate and synchronized with the video.

Final Thoughts
Closed captions and subtitles are an important aspect of creating accessible, inclusive content. By including them in your videos, you can improve your SEO, reach a wider audience, and comply with legal requirements. Don’t let closed captions and subtitles be an afterthought – make them a part of your content creation process from the beginning.

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