8 Benefits of Video Transcription & Captioning

March 3, 2022 BY ELISA LEWIS
Updated: March 13, 2024

The reasons why you should add closed captions and include transcripts to your video content are almost innumerable, but we can count at least eight. Closed captioning and transcription offer benefits to your organization and your viewers alike – and not only those who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing! Learn more and check out the top 8 benefits of transcription and captioning:

1. Accessibility for d/Deaf or hard of hearing viewers

Given that closed captions were originally developed as an accommodation to provide an equivalent entertainment experience for d/Deaf and hard of hearing people, it makes sense that content accessibility is arguably the most important benefit of transcription. Captions are time-synchronized text that accompanies video content, and transcripts are the complete plain text version of all captions generated.

In combination, transcription and captioning provide a critical alternative for the 48 million Americans with hearing loss and the 360 million people worldwide who experience disabling hearing loss. Quite simply, closed captions allow these viewers to consume your video content, granting them access and simultaneously increasing your audience.

“71% of people with disabilities leave a website immediately if it is not accessible.”

2. Compliance with legal requirements

It’s estimated that as many as 60% of those Americans with hearing loss are a member of the workforce or a part of an educational setting. In order to protect the rights of disabled people and ensure their access to the same resources as the rest of the population, several anti-discrimination laws have been enacted in the United States. Some of those laws require that videos include closed captions when published publicly so that they are fully accessible, but standards for broadcast television and media are strictly regulated by the FCC. clipboard with check mark in shield

Closed captioning requirements are written directly into Section 508 of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and are often extended to apply to Section 504. Many states have “mini 508” laws as well. The Section 508 refresh was released in January 2017, and now references WCAG 2.0 guidelines as the accessibility standards to meet, which includes both captioning and audio description requirements.

Over the last decade, many organizations have been sued for failing to provide comprehensive captioning for online video and audio content. Generally speaking, the best way to avoid being part of this legal battle is to proactively transcribe and caption your videos.

3. Improved audience comprehension

Students in online learning environments regularly reap the benefits of video transcription and captioning. In a national research study conducted with Oregon State University, it was reported that 52% of students found captions helpful as a learning aid by improving comprehension. 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.”

52% of students found captions helpful as a learning aid by improving comprehension.

Closed captions can greatly enhance the experience for viewers whose native language is not English. In the same study with Oregon State University, 66% of those students who are learning English as a second language reported that they find captions “very” or “extremely” helpful, as captions allow them to 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. Flexible viewing 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, office, or on the train.

Autoplaying videos on silent is a common practice amongst social media platforms these days. According to Digiday, 85% of Facebook videos are played without sound. However, without sound – or captions – viewers will not be able to understand your content.

5. Increased SEO and video views

A study with This American Life (TAL) proved that adding transcripts boosts SEO. Search engines can’t watch videos, but adding transcripts allows graph chart with increasing line and plus icon 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. Enhanced 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. An interactive transcript allows users to search for keywords within the transcript, and see everywhere that keyword appears. If there is a particular spot in the video a user wants to jump to, all they have to do is click the word, and the video will start playing at that spot. In a study by MIT OpenCourseWare, 97% of students said interactive transcripts enhanced their learning experience. In addition to searching for a given word within one video, you can even scan your whole video library for that keyword using playlist search. That seamless user experience boosts user experience and overall customer satisfaction.

7. Easier 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 flow chart of derivative content 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 to be used as testimonials. Additionally, transcripts can be turned into outlines for a report, or study guides for students to use.

8. Convenient translation into foreign languages

Getting your video content transcribed is the first step in creating subtitles in foreign languages. In today’s global world, the Internet is at the center of it all. A whopping 80% of YouTube views come from outside the U.S., and eight of the top 10 countries with the most YouTube users are non-English speaking countries – necessarily, video translation is in high demand. In addition to helping your content reach a wider audience, translated transcripts and captions can also boost SEO.


Want to learn more about the potential benefits of transcription?

unlock the power of podcast transcription with link to learn more

This post was originally published on April 21, 2015 by Emily Griffin and has since been updated for clarity, accuracy, and freshness. 

3Play Media logo

Subscribe to the Blog Digest

Sign up to receive our blog digest and other information on this topic. You can unsubscribe anytime.

By subscribing you agree to our privacy policy.