Recently, I looked back at a list of videos that I’ve produced for a state agency since 2009. I wanted to gauge how many of those videos included closed-captioning.
Ten years ago, several of those videos received no closed-captioning. That’s a sharp contrast to 2019.
Every video I now produce for the state of Washington receives closed-captioning.
Many state agencies are now required to include closed-captioning on videos posted to their websites. All federal government websites must include closed-captioning for their online videos.
As I’ve come to learn about the impacts of closed-captioning, I find that I’ve become in its enthusiastic proponent.
Truth is, I’ve become downright passionate about closed-captioning. Make that, closed-captioning done well.
In this post, we’ll address closed-captioning’s important role in developing a website that’s accessible.
In addition to its value to deaf people, experts say everyone’s learning and comprehension is improved with closed-captioning.
Nowadays, when my wife and I watch a show on Amazon Prime or Netflix, we always have closed-captioning on. Come to think of it, it’s almost always on when my family watches anything on television.
Closed-captioning helps us comprehend:
- softly spoken and distant dialogue
- unfamiliar words
- words spoken with various accents
- natural sounds in the scene environment
Still think closed-captioning’s not for you? You might consider the boost it often provides in search results.
Closed-captioning can increase your video’s SEO. Transcripts can improve SEO, too.
After all, as those search engine bots spider your website, they can’t actually watch and listen to your video. But the bots can analyze text in your closed-captioning and transcript, providing richer information at a granular level that often results in a boost in SEO.
A word of caution
With several benefits now addressed above, let’s pause for a word of caution: Closed-captioning can also be a double-edged sword.
Poorly executed closed-captioning can do more harm than good.
I’ve heard one expert state that a 90-percent accuracy rate still introduces a lot of confusion. In other words, one spelling mistake out of every ten words is enough to cloud intended meaning, or even change it.
Less than stellar closed-captioning often results in confusion, and paves the way for risk.
For example, if a hospital’s video includes inaccurate closed-captioning, the patient (or nurse or doctor) watching it might miss out on important information, or do the opposite of what was verbally instructed in the video.
All of this is why I feel compelled to strive for excellent closed-captioning.
And it’s why my minimal standard for the closed-captioning I perform is a 99-percent accuracy rate. I always aim for 100-percent.
There is even more to closed-captioning than the correct spelling and placement of text. Imagine gray text on a black background. The resulting minimal contrast in that scenario would make the text difficult to read.
Effective contrast options can pave-the-way for more effective closed-captioning. Those options include:
- font color
- font size
- font style
- font opacity
- background color
- background opacity
Ideally, it is the end-user who not only decides whether closed-captioning should be turned on, but who also selects options related to readability that best suit their individual preferences.
Beginning with the video located below, closed-captioning will be provided on this site. And you’ll be able to select all of the above-mentioned settings for the fonts and backgrounds.
While not legally required on Beyond90Seconds.com, the closed-captioning provided in the video below (and in future videos on this site) is compliant with Section 504 and the Section 508 Amendment of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
“There is nothing in Section 508 that requires private web sites to comply unless they are receiving federal funds or under contract with a federal agency. Commercial best practices include voluntary standards and guidelines as the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI).”Wikipedia
In many posts (including this one), a searchable transcript is going to appear below the video. The transcript is also feature-rich, including multiple ways to quickly locate specific information in the video.
The video below is a story about the pink salmon run on the Snohomish River in Washington State. It features pleasant scenery as the weather in this rural area begins to shift from summer to autumn. I hope you enjoy it, and also take a moment to explore the closed-caption and transcript features.
I’d love to read your feedback!
If you’re interested in closed-captioning, transcript, and/or consulting services offered by Beyond 90 Seconds LLC, please contact us.