Best Practices to be Adopted by Closed Captioning Service Providers

The best practices to be adopted by the closed captioning service providers

Closed captioning, as we all know, is the textual interpretation of speech and non-speech elements presented on visual display screens. Closed captions help to reach out to a wider audience including hard of hearing and people with different language capabilities. There are many closed caption service providers operating in the market. Let us look at some best practices that can be adopted by the service providers while creating closed captions.

  • Closed captions should be displayed on the screen in synchronization with the visuals.
  • Captions should fade away from the screen once the corresponding visuals disappear.
  • It is essential that the captions stay on screen long enough for the viewers to read them.
  • Minimum display time can be set as 1.5 seconds for dialogs that are short as a word or two; however, this cannot be applied for rapid dialogs.
  • Closed captions should be placed in a fashion that the visuals are not obstructed. Viewers should be able to read through the captions and at the same time follow the visuals.
  • There should not be more than two lines of text at any given time on screen.
  • Try not to end a sentence and begin another sentence on the same line and retain all the words as it is spoken.
  • Do not avoid words like “so”, “because”, “but”, “too”, etc. These words are essential to convey the exact meaning of spoken words.
  • Where ever there is an “inaudible”, place a label to explain the cause. For example; crowd noise sinks speech, noisy market, etc.
  • Display closed captions describing sound effects in lowercase italics inside brackets/parentheses. For Example; (child crying) (car screeching).
  • Identify speakers and display their names against the captions. Example; (Joe) How are you? (Mary) I am doing great.
  • Inserting music icon is a method to indicate that a song is being played on the screen. A hashtag can also be used to indicate songs.
  • Movies and TV content closed captions do not generally use full stops/periods, but it should be left to content owners’ discretion. However, question marks or exclamation marks should be used to give clarity to a phrase.
  • It is always good to start sentences in capital letters. Capitalize an entire word only if it indicates screaming.
  • Spell numbers out from one to ten and numerals for numbers higher than ten. For technical and sports terms, use numerals. Example: (scored 5 goals out of 6 penalties)

These are general closed captioning styles in practice; however, these rules can be tweaked or altered as per specific customer requirements.

closed captioning for hearing impaired sports enthusiasts

Closed captions are one of the effective ways through which hearing impaired or deaf can fully experience and enjoy entertainment or broadcast events. Nowadays, almost all the broadcasted events have closed captioning allowing deaf or hard of hearing fully enjoy their favorite programs. Sports stadiums used to be a place where these individuals were often neglected. Deaf or hard of hearing fans often found it disappointing as they’re not able to follow commentary, announcements or music that are played in the loudspeakers. Closed captioning on the giant screens is the only way to make sports more accessible for these individuals who enjoy watching sports from stadiums.

The Washington Redskins is a popular professional American Football Team. In 2006, three hearing-impaired ardent sports enthusiasts filed a lawsuit against the Washington Redskins as they were not able to follow announcements, public service spots and advertisements played on midfield giant screens. They demanded closed captioning on the screen every time something is played including music lyrics or any announcements.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act; District Judge, Alexander Williams Jr., ruled that running closed captions on the stadium screen is no more an option, but an obligation.

The hearing-impaired sports fans felt that they used to struggle to follow the action when they first started going to games many years ago. It was difficult for them to enjoy the game as they were not able to follow why the penalties were awarded and who all were the players. With the help of closed captions, they are able to experience the games the similar way as the other fans.