Hearing A–Z

Captions is the text version of speech and other sounds in traditional audio-visual media such as films, television, DVDs and online videos.

Captions are provided to enhance audio content and benefit people:

  • with hearing difficulties
  • with learning difficulties
  • with diverse learning styles
  • who experience difficulty accessing online videos for reasons related to issues with their environment (noise) or with technology (connectivity or equipment).
  • from a non-English speaking background (NESB)

“Closed captions” is the term for captions that can be hidden or shown by people watching the video. “Open captions” are always displayed and cannot be turned off.

  • Subtitles is the term for spoken audio translated into another language.

There is little systematic research on relevant factors in captioning and patterns of caption use. The number of regular users in Australia could be as low as 1 million or as high as 6 million.

A nationwide survey – the Television Caption Users Survey – by The Australia Institute in 2000 for Australian Communications Consumer Action Network and Media Access Australia revealed high levels of use of closed captioning on TV. The research is significant because the percentage of people who say they sometimes use captions (30%) is higher than the estimated 18% of the population who have hearing issues. This tells us people use captions for different reasons that aren’t necessarily hearing-related – it could be to watch TV late at night without disturbing the household, or in a noisy environment when the sound cannot be adjusted.

Captions are vital to the accessibility of videos in today’s online and streaming environment – captioning is listed as the highest priority in the definitive World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guideline’s (WCAG) 2.0 standard (W3C, “Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0”).

When you caption videos, you will be rewarded with more video views because those with captions reach more viewers than those without captions. Here are the answers to frequently asked questions about captioning videos. https://meryl.net/captioning-videos-faq/