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How Does Closed Captioning Work

The art of closed captioning has come a long way from its humble beginnings. What started as a visual aid for the hard of hearing has become an everyday part of the media landscape. From live television broadcasts to YouTube videos and the latest Netflix blockbuster which is being streamed around the world instantly. In addition, closed captioning and subtitles have become a vital part of today’s digital education landscape to show real benefits for learning.

Understanding Closed Captioning

One of the clearest indications of its popularity is the finding that four out of five people who use closed captioning when they’re watching video don’t actually need it. They just do it because they like it and it lets them make a deeper connection with the material they’re watching. Captioning helps to reinforce the visual messaging and in noisy places, like bars and gyms, it’s the only way for people to follow what’s happening on screen.

The terms ‘closed captioning (or CC)’  and ‘subtitles’ are frequently used interchangeably, but there are differences. Closed captions are a timed transcript of the dialogue between characters on the screen, while subtitles are translated into another language.

How People Get Closed Captions

Most businesses and people who need closed captions for their video content get them through a closed caption service like They send their online videos or video files to the closed captioning service, and receive a caption file like an SRT file back in around 12-24 hours, which they can then use to easily add the captions to a variety of online video platforms and software.

Captioning online content, news programs, television episodes, movies, and other types of video content significantly benefits deaf or hard of hearing individuals, and helps to make content more accessible to more people.

The use of closed captioning on all forms of TV and video has had a profound effect for good in society. Not only has it brought those with hearing difficulties into the mainstream, but it has also changed the way that many people learn and enjoy content in situations where audio is unavailable. Think of students trying to learn quietly when their siblings are sleeping, or travelers in airports keeping up with the news and old age pensioners enjoying a movie on Netflix that they would not have been able to hear in the past.

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April 4, 2018

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