June 6 is #captionTHIS Day!

Captioning. Most people ignore it (or think it’s a nuisance) until those times when they really need it. For example: at a restaurant where TVs are showing the latest sports event, in a hospital waiting room, at a really noisy (or really quiet) office, while watching foreign-language films, or any of more than a dozen other examples.

But for some people, it’s a necessity. People who are deaf or hard-of-hearing need captions to understand what’s going on. But dozens of websites do not caption their videos, such as MSNBC, CNN, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Netflix, MoveOn, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, and many more.

June 6 is #captionTHIS Day. (#captionTHIS is a Twitter hashtag.) Collaborative for Communication Access, an “advocate for inclusion of quality captioning universally”, is promoting #captionTHIS on their blog. The idea is to contact companies who currently release videos without captions and ask them to add captions so that everyone can enjoy the videos.

I’ve put together some examples that show the differences between videos with no captions, basic captions, transcripts, audio descriptions, and sign-language videos.

  • Only people with no visual or hearing impairments can really enjoy a video without captions, transcripts, or audio descriptions.
  • Captions help those who cannot hear for any reason. They could be deaf or hard-of-hearing…or they could work in a quiet or a noisy environment where they can’t listen.
  • Transcripts display the words being spoken. In addition to the same benefits as captions, they also add search engine optimization benefits. (On YouTube, click Show More under the video to find the transcript.)
  • Audio descriptions further enhance the video by explaining what is happening. It’s like having someone read the script to the person who is listening. For example: [Gibbs slaps Tony on the back of the head.] Tony: Hey!
  • Videos with sign language are specifically designed for those who understand sign language. YouTube has more than 40,000 ASL videos. The IRS has posted several videos to provide tax information.

Thanks to Ken Harrenstien, YouTube videos can now include machine-generated captions. For more information on captions, subtitles, and transcripts, visit Video Management on YouTube.

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