Regardless of your field of choice, every content creator shares one fundamental and universal goal, and that is to bring your craft across a wider audience. For video creators, it is only vital to keep your viewers entertained and interested. But to make that happen, you as a creator must make sure that your message is properly conveyed and that they’re being understood by their market. One sure-fire way to do that is by adding subtitles or closed captions in your videos.

Although frequently thought to be the same thing, subtitles and closed captions differ in objectives and content. Subtitles are intended for hearing viewers who do not understand the spoken language used in the video. Thus, it is only a translation of the spoken content into another language, excluding other audio elements. On the other hand, closed captions assume that the audience is hearing impaired. This is why background noises such as slamming of doors or rustling of trees, speaker identification, and other non-speech elements are also transcribed and displayed on-screen.

Now, there is another option that is quietly emerging and becoming more popular among video editors. Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, or simply SDH subtitles, is a combination of subtitles and closed captions. In a way, SDH subtitles are more of a subtitle as they can be different from the source language, and they appear similar to traditional subtitles which can be varied in size, style, and color. Also, both are placed on the center, lower bottom third of the screen. Meanwhile, SDH subtitles are also considered as closed captions as it also converts the non-verbal audio into textual formats. Hence, SDH is the most comprehensive, synchronized video transcription among the three.

Directed and produced by Stanley Donen – Charade Blu-ray [Criterion edition], Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39326071

With its apparent superiority, let us break down the reasons why you should add SDH subtitles in your videos:

Broader audience and increased accessibility

As of March 2020, the World Health Organization records show that there are approximately 466 million people around the globe who have hearing loss; 34 million of these are children. Without subtitles, closed captions, or SDH subtitles, you are missing this audience who may very well enjoy your video and engage with your message. By adding SDH subtitles, you are also paving a way for non-native speakers who would like to consume and appreciate your content but in a way that is easily understandable through their mother tongue. Making your videos available for the deaf and hard of hearing community, plus non-native speakers, will definitely increase your reach as well as your viewership.

Better comprehension

When there are off-screen noises that are sometimes difficult to notice, SDH subtitles help viewers, especially deaf and hard of hearing individuals, better appreciate the scenes and understand the settings in your video. Other than that, when watching foreign films, it often requires an effort to understand thick accents or fast dialogues that you need to rewind the video at least a couple of times to comprehend the line. With SDH subtitles, you can easily follow the plot – may it be a documentary or a soap opera – you are watching. Perhaps, it can also help improve your vocabulary as you can quickly jot down any unfamiliar word that comes up on the video.

Greater compatibility

In the rise of digital television, closed captioning becomes difficult to decode. In order to enable closed captions, you need a set-top box or a cable box. However, depending on the product or the brand, the implementation of set-top boxes varies. Most HD disc media, such as Blu-ray, do not support closed captioning anymore. Instead, they use SDH subtitles. By adding SDH subtitles, you are guaranteed a widely accepted type of video transcription for your content.

Legal boundaries

From country to country, there are regulations that mandate the addition of captions. For instance, the Americans with Disabilities Act in the United States legally requires any video materials shown in public places to have transcriptions in order to become accessible to the disabled. By knowing the applicable laws and integrating SDH subtitles in your videos, you can avoid tedious lawsuits.

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Now that “why should you include SDH subtitles in your content” has been answered, it’s time to deal with the how. There are two ways to incorporate SDH subtitles in your videos. First, you can do it all by yourself. It is free, but it’s not easy as transcribing would require you to spare a significant amount of time and effort. The second option is to hire a transcription company that can convert your video content into a text format. TranscriptionWing, for one, can generate accurate SDH subtitles for you, all the while working around your budget and preferred turnaround time.

Whichever you call for though, one thing is clear: having SDH subtitles would absolutely give your content a complete advantage.