As dietitians, we have a lot of valuable information to share and you want everyone in your target audience to be able to soak up all the knowledge you’re sharing. I encourage you to consider additional ways to incorporate accessibility into your video plans, starting with closed captions. It’s much easier to design, script, and create content with accessibility in mind than it is to revamp everything after the fact, but it’s not impossible. YouTube automatically generates closed captions for many videos and although they are not 100% accessible, I’ll be sharing a little bit about how we can use these to our advantage to make our videos more accessible.
I’ll be speaking primarily in the context of closed captioning for YouTube, but many key points are applicable across various video platforms and applications. I included a list of resources to help you get started with closed captioning your videos later in the article, if you’re not already familiar with the process. There will also be a link to my website where you can contact me about the captioning services I offer as well as a free download.
Why Invest in Captioning?
I want you to take a moment to ask yourself, “Who is my target audience and would they benefit from closed captions?”
The answer, no matter who your target audience is, should be YES.
When you’re developing video content, think of your fellow RDs, future RDs, ESL (English as a Second Language) peers and patients, disabled individuals, diverse learners, and all the other potential consumers of your content. Many people who aren’t deaf or hard-of-hearing use closed captions as well. The option for captions can be useful to users who need to watch silently in a quiet space so as to not disturb the people around them, or watch in a noisy space where listening isn’t feasible.
There are simply so many different people, circumstances, and situations that benefit from closed captions beyond just the deaf and hard-of-hearing, but they are a huge reason why you should pursue better closed-captioning services.
According to the CDC, 61 million, or 26% of adults in the U.S. have some type of disability. From data from 2014-2016, 15.9% of U.S. adults >/= 18 years old were deaf or hard-of-hearing. As you know, a disability is something that we can be born with, or can occur later in life…to any of us. A disability may mean we require the use of some type of assistive technology or need other accommodations at work, at home, or in public. The burden falls on the individual to ask for accommodations, but not everyone wants to ask. If we make an effort to make our content more accessible from the get-go, they won’t necessarily have to ask at all.
Why Autogenerated Captions
Aren’t Good Enough
Don’t get me wrong, YouTube’s auto-generated captions have come a long way and create a lot of value, but the fact is, they’re not good enough because without editing, they’re not accessible. Many times there are inaccurate transcriptions due to accents, dialects, mispronunciations, background noise, or unfamiliar terms. Additionally, the YouTube closed captions completely lack punctuation and create one long run-on sentence…not exactly the easiest thing to follow when you’re learning complicated nutrition concepts for the first time. Creating accurate captions with proper punctuation and grammar can make the context and intent of your transcribed voice much more apparent and clear.
YouTube’s auto-generated captions are a great starting point for you to create captions. You don’t need to start from scratch and type everything word-for-word, you can simply edit them within the YouTube Studio. If you are not familiar with this process, here are some links to steps on how to add and edit closed captions in the YouTube Studio.
Cost vs Value
One of the last things I’ll leave you to think about is your cost versus value. You can learn how to caption your videos yourself or you can pay someone to do it. Can you do it yourself? Yes, absolutely. Will it be time-consuming to learn how to do it and to do it effectively? Most likely, yes. Will it be expensive to have someone else do it? It depends, but if you want it done well, probably yes. Here’s a great article that talks about the cost of closed captioning service and some of the considerations when hiring a captioning service.
Whether you invest your time or money, you also benefit from closed captions. Transcribing your audio into text format can actually help your SEO (search engine optimization), helping improve your ranking in Google for relevant search terms so your audience can find you easier.
The value you add to your content is huge. You potentially open yourself up to a wider audience and improve your value to them, as well as your existing audience because now your captions are accurate and make sense. Having closed captions can be the difference between a user clicking off after a few seconds or staying until the end, improving both your watch time and engagement.
If you’re a video content creator, I hope this inspires you to do more with captioning your videos. Let me know if you’d like to see more content on this topic, such as some methods on how to create and add captions to new and existing YouTube videos. You can leave a comment below letting me know what you’d like to see next or subscribe to be notified when I post something new.
Lastly, I’m currently accepting a limited number of closed captioning and transcript clients, so if you’re interested, you can contact me through my website here: Closed Captioning. We can discuss your caption needs and if my services would be a good fit for you.
A Few Resources
Below is a list of resources that I encourage you to explore to see how you could improve the accessibility of your video content:
- 3PlayMedia – What is Closed Captioning?
- W3C WAI – Transcribing Audio to Text
- W3C WAI – Multimedia Accessibility
- WebAIM – Captions, Transcripts, and Audio Descriptions
- DCMP – Captioning Key: Guidelines and Best Practices for Captioning Educational Video
- W3C WAI – Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Overview
- Canvas Network MOOC – Accessibility: Designing and Teaching Courses For All Learners