8 Benefits of Transcribing & Captioning Videos

April 21, 2015 BY EMILY GRIFFIN
Updated: January 24, 2019

Why should you transcribe and add captions to your videos? It’s a simple question with so many answers. Here are the top 8 reasons why video transcription and captioning are beneficial for both your organization and your viewers.

1. Accessibility to Deaf or Hard of Hearing Viewers

Closed captions were originally developed to provide an equivalent television viewing experience for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Time-synced text is the best alternative to audio for these viewers, of which there are 48 million in the United States alone. Quite simply, closed captions allow deaf and hard of hearing viewers to consume your videos, which broadens your audience.

2. Protection Against Disability Discrimination Lawsuits

Anti-discrimination laws were enacted to protect the rights of people with disabilities to access the same resources as the rest of the population. Some of those laws require that videos include closed captions so that they are fully accessible. Closed captioning standards for television and media broadcasts in the US are strictly regulated by the FCC, and captioning online video from media companies is required by the CVAA.

More general anti-discrimination legislation like the Americans with Disabilities Act or Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act is open to interpretation: are all universities required to caption their online videos? What about e-learning videos? Or other private organizations? The debate about how much these laws apply to online video captioning is raging in courtrooms across America. Harvard and MIT were recently sued for failing to provide comprehensive captioning for online educational video and audio content. Netflix has been the target of two separate lawsuits about captioning — with contradicting rulings.

The best way to avoid being part of this legal battle is to proactively transcribe and caption your videos.

3. Better Comprehension

Video transcriptions and captions can be hugely helpful for online learning. University of Wisconsin Extension found that 50% of Sustainable Management students used downloadable transcripts as study aids. Ben Labrum, Senior Product Manager for Training On Demand at Oracle, touts the benefits of captioning and transcribing all of Oracle’s online training videos:

“It’s really cognitive reinforcement…. So when you read it and when you hear it at the same time, it helps you remember better. For example, say we record an instructor in Atlanta, Georgia, and then there’s a person in India who’s used to an English accent. The student might not follow as well without captions. Captioning and transcripts add additional value.”

Closed captions can greatly enhance the experience for viewers whose native language is not English. Georgia Tech found that captions helped their many ESL students better understand videos, since they can read along while they listen. Watching videos with captions can also help children improve their literacy. A study by Michigan State University concluded that “captions are beneficial because they result in greater depth of processing by focusing attention, reinforce the acquisition of vocabulary through multiple modalities, and allow learners to determine meaning through the unpacking of language chunks.”

4. Viewability in Sound-Sensitive Environments

With closed captions on, viewers can watch your videos in places where audio is unavailable. If someone’s on a noisy train or on a crowded street, captions will convey the speech when the sound is obscured. Captions also let viewers enjoy videos on mute in quiet environments like a library or office.

5. Increased SEO and Video Views

A study with This American Life (TAL) proved that adding transcripts boosts SEO. Transcripts allow search engines to crawl the full text of your audio or video content so that is can be properly indexed. The number of unique visitors who discovered TAL through organic search results increased by 6.68%. They also saw a 3.89% increase in inbound links directly attributable to the transcript pages. A separate study by Discovery Digital Networks showed that YouTube videos with captions had 13.48% more views in the first two weeks and 7.32% more lifetime views, as compared to videos without captions. Long transcripts can be paginated and optimized for specific keywords to further optimize search rank.

6. Video Search and User Experience

Transcripts make your video content vastly more searchable. Not only can search engines crawl your content and drive traffic to your site, but viewers on your site can find the videos they’re looking for. They can search for a given word within a video, or even scan your whole video library for that keyword using playlist search. That seamless user experience boosts customer satisfaction. In a study by MIT OpenCourseWare, 97% of students said interactive transcripts enhanced their learning experience.

7. Easy Creation of Derivative Content

Market researchers and content creators use recorded video or audio to create clips, reels, and montages, but sifting through that content without the aid of transcripts is a daunting task. Transcripts are easily scanned and searched for key phrases or topics; direct quotes can be lifted with a simple copy-paste. A tool like Clipmaker even lets you make video clip reels using the transcript itself. The University of Wisconsin used transcripts to create testimonials from a library of video interviews.

8. Translation into Foreign Languages

A video transcript is the first step in creating subtitles in foreign languages. With 80% of YouTube views coming from outside the US and 67.5% of YouTube views coming from non-English speaking countries, video translation is in demand. Translated transcripts and captions can also boost SEO.

Want to transcribe and caption your videos? Join this free webinar for a Quick Start to Captioning.

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