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Why More News Sources Need To Use Captions on Video

September 29, 2016Posted by Helaina Hovitz

We hope that the fact that all of our videos have captions make it easier for you to enjoy our stories at work, on the go (but please, look where you’re going), or in a boring meeting.

Most importantly, though, the reason we use text to narrate all of our videos is so everyone can enjoy them, including the 360 million people worldwide who are hard of hearing (which, we recently found out, is a term the community is hoping will replace the term “hearing impaired.”)

Digital media and the art of journalistic storytelling is rapidly changing shape and form, so it baffles us just how often such a large group of people are left out of the picture when it comes to how they consume their news.

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Only 25% of YouTube videos captioned, and some closed captioning services offering shotty translations and charging for them.

In utilizing a visual narrative, we’re able to create a 60-second, easily digestible video for everyone to engage with, on social media and beyond.

“The captions for videos put Deaf people on an equal playing field. Only one percent of the world population is Deaf, yet they are a powerhouse with strong presence in social media,” said Julie Rems-Smario, a longtime activist. “Just imagine how much more the Deaf community worldwide can contribute to the society if they have access to all videos.”

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Rems-Smario pointed out that being able to watch the captioned videos with her three children instead of “making them feel obligated to interpret” enhances their quality time as a family and deepens their conversations.

There are also added benefits to captioning, says Claude Stout Executive Director of Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc., like the ability to search for a video in archives, since the captions are already embedded within them. 

And, you never know when you may need them.

Many others without disabilities may lose their hearing when they get older,” he added. “And then, they will then count on using captions.”

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There are many sites out there who have begun the practice of providing captions with some or all of their videos, especially when posting on Facebook, and we’re proud to be part of the movement.

We’re on a mission to change the way the world thinks about news. Right in between all of the cute animals and random acts of kindness and the more depressing side of the social issue spectrum, there we are—creating hopeful and meaningful content that raises awareness for issues like this one.

As Rems-Smario points out, “The more access we have to mass communications, the more we can give back as a diverse group of Deaf people.”

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