Regardless of your niche, every content creator shares one fundamental and universal goal: to bring your craft to 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 it’s being understood by your audience. 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 deaf or hard of hearing people. 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. SDH subtitles can technically be classified as subtitles as as they can be different from the source language, and they appear similar to traditional subtitles which can vary in size, style, and color. Both are also placed on the center, lower bottom third of the screen. SDH subtitles can also be considered as closed captions as it also converts non-verbal audio into text. 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 – or over 5% of the world’s population – who suffer from some degree of hearing loss. Without subtitles, closed captions, or SDH subtitles, you miss this significant portion of potential audiences of your audiovisual content. 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, no longer support closed captioning. Instead, they use SDH subtitles. By adding SDH subtitles, you are guaranteed a widely accepted type of video transcription for your content.

Legal obligations or requirements

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 for better accessibility for people with disabilities. 

How can I add SDH subtitles to my videos?

 There are two ways to incorporate SDH subtitles in your videos. First, you can transcribe your content by yourself to generate your subtitles. It is free, but it’s not easy as transcribing would require you to spare a significant amount of time and effort. Also the accuracy of your content may also correlate 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: adding SDH subtitles would absolutely give your content an advantage.