8 Benefits of Transcribing & Captioning Videos

February 21, 2019 BY ELISA LEWIS
Updated: July 3, 2019

Why should you transcribe and add captions to your videos? It’s a simple question with so many answers. Discover the top 8 reasons why video transcription and captioning are beneficial for both your organization and your viewers – and not just those who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing.

1. Accessibility for d/Deaf or Hard of Hearing Viewers

Closed captions were originally developed to provide an equivalent viewing experience for people who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing. The time-synchronized text provides 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. Legal Compliance

60% of those who have hearing loss are either in the workforce or in an educational setting. Several anti-discrimination laws were enacted to protect the rights of people with disabilities to access the same resources as the rest of the population, no matter what the situation. 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.

Closed captioning requirements are written directly into Section 508, and are often applied 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. Better Comprehension

Video transcriptions and captions can be hugely helpful for online learning. 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 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. 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. 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 to be used as testimonials. Additionally, transcripts can be turned into outlines for a report, or study guides for students to use.

8. Easy 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 coming from outside the US and eight of the top 10 countries with the most YouTube users are non-English speaking countries. Thus, 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 transcribe and caption your videos? Learn more or get started today!

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

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