Captioning Prioritization Tips for Your Video Content

July 24, 2020 BY JACLYN LEDUC
Updated: February 23, 2021

Effective captioning prioritization is about strategically approaching the process of captioning. In an ideal scenario, a captioning strategy would aim to caption all video content.

However, for organizations with sizable video libraries or a regular stream of new video content, captioning prioritization can be a real challenge. Additionally, factors such as limited budget and lack of resource time may interfere with captioning plans.

The 2020 State of Captioning survey, which tracks current captioning trends and behaviors, provides new data on current approaches to captioning prioritization across multiple industries, including higher education, eLearning, government, corporate, and publishing.


2020 State of Captioning Report


Common Approaches to Captioning Prioritization

Due to limiting factors, organizations may be unable to caption 100% of their video content. The 2020 State of Captioning respondents reported that they:

  • Caption all of their video content (42%)
  • Caption most of their video content (24%)
  • Caption some of their video content (18%)
  • Caption very little of their video content (8%)
  • Caption none of their video content (8%)

Captioning prioritization can help many organizations effectively tackle captioning demand in the long term. While captioning everything should be the aspiration, other approaches to captioning prioritization may include captioning based on requests, budget, legal requirements, and content popularity.

Caption Everything

It turns out that 47% of respondents from the State of Captioning survey caption all of their videos no matter what.

The goal should be to caption all content. This ensures that everyone can access your content from the start and reap the captioning benefits, like improved comprehension, focus, retention, and engagement.

Caption Upon Request

Of those we surveyed, 15% prioritize captioning based on accommodation requests, and 11% caption according to what they believe is required by law.

To comply with accessibility laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, organizations must provide an accessible alternative to videos if requested by a person with a disability. The legal impetus makes prioritizing that content a no-brainer.

Deaf and hard-of-hearing people require captioned videos because they cannot hear the audio. People with learning disabilities, attention deficits, cognitive disabilities, or neurodivergence may also request closed captions. Closed captions are also helpful for non-native English speakers to follow along and understand the language better.

Whatever the reason for the request, organizations must promptly provide captions for the desired content. The caveat is that captions may be required by law even without an accommodation request, so it’s essential to become familiar with all legal captioning requirements.


 See the full 2020 State of Captioning Report ➡️ 


Caption What You Can Afford

Captioning costs can be a barrier for some organizations. It’s likely why 8% of survey respondents said they caption the video content according to what they can afford.

While that may mean that not all of their content gets captioned, captioning according to your budget shows an honest effort and is a more affordable way to approach captioning prioritization. To stay within budget, organizations may prioritize captions for accommodation requests, all external-facing video content, and the most-viewed video content.

Caption Popular Content

A small portion of respondents (7%) prioritize captioning based on the popularity of content. This makes sense when tackling an extensive video archive: where do you begin?

The logical starting point is to caption whatever gets the most views. That way, you’re benefiting the most people immediately and then servicing fewer and fewer viewers as you make your way through your video catalog.

Other Reasons

How else do you choose what to caption? Here are some alternative approaches:

  • Caption based on business need or client request
  • Caption all external content and selective internal content
  • Caption all of our newly published content first, then work through archives chronologically
  • Caption content that will be used repeatedly in the future

With planning and a strategic approach to captioning prioritization based on your organization’s unique needs, you will be well on your way to making your video content more accessible to all.


Download the 2020 State of Captioning Report

This post was originally published in February 2016 by Emily Griffin and has since been updated.

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