Should You Choose Open or Closed Captioning?

By: Speechpad Team


Most people are familiar with the term closed captioning and know what it means. But if you look at the word “closed” you might assume we also have something called “open” captioning. Well, you’d be right!

Though most people don’t know what open captioning is compared to closed, both have benefits you may want to consider when looking to get captioning for your media.

The Differences Between Open and Closed Captioning

Simply put, open captioning means that captions are always shown on the viewer’s screen and can’t be turned off. Open captioning is also attached directly to the video stream itself. You’re most likely used to seeing open captioning in airport terminals on the TV screens.

Closed captioning, on the other hand, is able to be turned on and off by a viewer, and they’re not necessarily shown by default unless a viewer has them set up to show that way (for example, Netflix has closed captioning on its videos that viewers can choose to start automatically with the program if they want). Closed captioning is the most typical option for entertainment media.

Best Instances to Use Open or Closed Captioning

As already mentioned above, open captioning is very useful in public situations like airports or bars because all the noise can make it nearly impossible to hear what’s going on. Another good situation to use open captioning might be in corporate training videos where your employees may be hard of hearing. It’s simply polite and respectful to include open captioning in these situations because not all people watching the screen will be able to hear it.

However, there are some drawbacks to open captioning. For example, they can be annoying for people who don’t like captions at all. Also, since open captioning is included with a video stream and not as a separate text stream, it makes it harder when you’re working with media like online and streaming movies – you have to provide completely separate transcription information in order to get any text from the movie indexed in search engines.

So in cases where you need to reach a wider audience and get properly indexed in searches, it’s best to stick with closed captioning and let the viewer decide if he or she wants to turn them on.

Once you figure out the right type of captioning for your media, you just need to get someone like Speechpad to help you start and finish the captioning process. Then you can release your media to the world assured your open or closed captioning will serve you and your viewers well!

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