What is Captioning?

Captioning is the presentation of audio-visual content as text on screen. It can involve both sound effects as well as the spoken word. It is generally intended to assist viewers with hearing impairments, deafness, or muted audio.

What are 'Closed' and 'Open' captions?

Closed captions refer to the ability to turn captions either on, or off on screen. When this option is not available to the audience, this refers to open captions. The content that is captioned will typically contain the symbol 'CC' (Closed Captioned) or 'OC' (Open Captioned) which indicates the form of captioning available. 


An example of Closed Captions can be found here.


Captions Vs. Subtitles

Closed captioning (CC) and subtitling both include displaying text on a television, video screen, or other visual display to provide additional information.Beyond this, the two are very different services. 

Subtitles are a transcription or translation of the dialogue when sound is available but not understood by the viewer. Typically, this is due to the content being in a foreign language. 

Captions are a transcription or translation of the dialogue, sound effects, and other relevant audio information when sound is unavailable or not clearly audible (for example, when audio is muted or the viewer is deaf or hard of hearing).


How does it work?

Captioning is a modern, and advanced process utilizing computer software, specialized machines, and voice-detection software. There are three main methods of creating captions, which include:

Re-Speaking: Re-Speaking requires the captioner to hear what is being said, then repeat the dialogue into a microphone connected to specialized computer software. This software detects the captioner’s voice, and converts it to text as captions.

Stenography: Stenography utilities a stenograph machine to replicate the spoken word into text quickly. A stenograph machine is basically a specially designed type writer with limited keys, which produces shorthand English. It is this shorthand which is translated into readable text via computer software. After, the stenographer will edit the captions to fix punctuation, grammar and assign speaker colors.

Typing: Here, the captioner simply uses a normal keyboard to type the audio and audio descriptions into computer software. This technique is time consuming and is usually employed not in a live environment, but with offline audio files with very few speakers.


To learn more about how captions are made, and the job of a captioner click this video


Why Captions?

Captions provide crucial access and inclusion of media to everyone, anywhere, and anytime. The burden of poor access not only makes content creators look poorly prepared, it takes its toll on the communities who benefit from it.


Check out this video.


Who benefits from captions?

Captioning programs like media content and films have numerous advantages and benefits, such as assisting:

  • Deaf and Hard of Hearing persons.
  • ESL learners and bilingual persons.
  • Businesses and Search Engine Analytics.

For more information on the benefits of captioning, check out this brief video!


The history of captions

The first televised program to ever be captioned was a PBS cooking show known as 'The French Chef', airing in 1972. The channel which hosted the show, WGBH soon began open captioning other programs shortly after.

Closed captioning technically came first, with a demonstration held at the First National Conference on Television for the Hearing Impaired in Nashville, Tennessee in 1971. In conjunction with PBS, tests conducted by the station developed editing consoles that could caption prerecorded programs. 

This remained the extent of captioning until 1982, when advances in stenograph machines moved beyond court reporting and into real-time captioning. Speech recognition technology also helped in improving the accuracy, and speed of real-time captioning. 

Legal History

The first major piece of legislation passed regarding the standards and practice of captioning was passed by the U.S. Congress on January 23, 1991. The Television Decoder Circuitry Act outlined rules on how closed captioning was implemented; with guides on the width, text size, screen time, and standards for which TV's must have captions.

Today, there are numerous accessibility laws that require captions to certain content. For example, laws such as the American Disabilities Act (USA), Disability Discrimination Act (AU) and Equal Opportunity Act (UK) all dictate today's caption quality and industry standards.


To learn more about these laws, read here


What can be captioned?

Captioning is a flexible service, and it can be applied to any recorded medium as long as audio is available. Some examples of caption-able events include:

  • Television, Film & VideoClosed_Caption_Demonstration_Still-Felix
  • University Lectures
  • Corporate Webinars
  • Live Sporting events
  • Social Media Videos/ Content 
  • Theater Plays, etc. 


 How can I order captions?

There are numerous online services that have trained, professional captioners ready to caption your content. Some businesses may have captioners who are able to travel to live events with a stenograph machine to caption them. 

Ordering captions today is very easy. It can now be as simple as downloading an app, or loading up a web page. Scribblr.ai is a simple online service that allows content creators, audio or visual to caption, and transcribe their content for those that require it. 

All you need is an audio or video file, and a preferred payment method. Depending on express delivery services, and length, your video or podcast can be captioned in under 24 hours! 

If you're curious about ordering captions and wish to know more, you can contact the scribblr.ai team here.


How much do captions cost?

With most services, the price of captioning usually depend on numerous factors, including:

  • Audio Length
  • Speed of Dialogue
  • Number of Speakers
  • Language
  • The requested Quality Level. 

However with scribblr.ai, captioning and transcription services are all offered at $1 per minute of content. This means that you can make your content accessible to more people without at an affordable cost. 

Difficult names, accents, foreign languages etc are not included in the cost. Every minute is simply $1. 

You can create your own account, or contact the scribblr.ai team at their website here

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