6 Top Tips for Closed Captions – live and online


Remote control buttons, one says subtitle

How can we all work to make our digital world inclusive? To build a new digital culture that works for everyone?

One part of online accessibility is around sound. When you are creating an event online or live, or developing an online resource like a video, you need to consider captioning/subtitles.

This is especially important during this current public health crisis and lockdown. As we switch to digital delivery of events and services we need to make sure they are accessible and that any disabling barriers are removed.

Captioning is a way for D/deaf and Hard of Hearing people to engage with the content you are producing, whether that’s in person, via a livestream, or watching a video. They can also be a useful support to neurodiverse people, for example, those who experience Auditory Processing Delay. Without subtitles – or a BSL interpreter – whatever you are offering is inaccessible.

At Drake Music we use captioning for all video content. For our events (both live and online) we use captioning or BSL interpreters, depending on which is most appropriate to the medium/participants.

6 Top Tips for subtitles/captioning

Here are six top tips/things to think about when considering captioning for your in-person or online events and meetings:

  1. Book ahead
    Book a captioning service in advance of your event – these are specialist services which provide live subtitling at conferences or for online meetings. This is not a translation service, but rather a way to ensure that audio content can be accessed in a different way.
  2. Money
    When planning your event, allocate money in your budget to pay for captioning/scribes.
  3. It’s not just for big events!
    Check participants access requirements for meetings or small sessions, as well as big online conferences or presentations.
  4. Prepare
    Send them as much of your content as you can in advance, make sure they are well-briefed and know any key acronyms etc.
  5. Rehearse!
    It’s always good practice to allow time for rehearsals. It gives you peace of mind and allows space to iron out any issues.
  6. Check that it is working for participants
    We hosted an event on Zoom recently and had an issue with getting the closed captions working in the breakout rooms – check in with participants to ensure it is working for everyone. Is it moving too fast? Displaying correctly? Take a moment to check in and ask the question.

And a final bonus tip… Let people know they can turn the captions off.  Some people find the Closed Captions to be a barrier, seeing that they make the screen too busy or are distracting. Letting people know they can turn them off means they can adapt the virtual environment to suit them.

The Social Model of Disability lets us see that people are disabled by their environment and the attitudes of others. We can work together in these extraordinary time to build a new inclusive digital culture, to make our digital attitudes and environments accessible.

How to add captions

There are lots of different ways to caption things, both live and recorded.

To add subtitles/captions to a video:

Ask your videographer to add them as part of the process of making the video. If you’re making it yourself you can add them using your video editing software, but sometimes this can be time-consuming.

Another option is to look at services like:

  • Kapwing – A collaborative platform for creating images, videos, and GIFs. There is a charge for longer videos but for short social media content you can edit and create for free.
  • Rev.com – On-demand transcription, captions and foreign-language subtitling services. Pay per use.
  • Zubtitle – Social media video platform which allows you to edit and add captions. A subscription service.

There are different options so search around to find what suits your time/budget.

Stagetext offer free training in digital subtitling – why not take them up on that and boost your skills?

And what about live Closed Captions?

At Drake Music events (both in person and online) we regularly use a captioning service called My Clear Text who we have found to be reliable and accurate.

A quick Google search has also pulled up these options, but we have not used them so can’t give any feedback on service quality:

You can also try out an AI powered transcription service like Otter.ai, which we have had good feedback on for small meetings.

Have you used live closed captions at an event? Do you have top tips to share? Leave a comment or tweet us your thoughts!

Read More

Accessibility in video conferencing

Avoiding concentration fatigue

Digital Accessibility – a call to action

What is the Social Model of Disability?

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