Why Do 29% of Hearing Students Never Use Closed Captions?

November 30, 2016 BY PATRICK LOFTUS
Updated: June 3, 2019


In early fall of 2016, 3Play Media and Oregon State University released results from a nationwide survey — the largest of its kind to date — about student uses and perceptions of closed captioning in higher education.

Of the 1,569 student respondents who did not self-identify as having difficulty with hearing, 70.8% use closed captions. Of that same demographic, 31.4% said they “always” or “often” use captions.

In contrast, the remaining 29.2% of hearing students claimed they “never” use closed captions when available.

That last figure really got us thinking: Why do those 29.2% of hearing students who never use closed captions refrain from doing so, even when those captions are available? Is it because they just don’t like using closed captions?

Or, maybe it has more to do with a lack of exposure to closed captions in everyday life. Besides, it’s hard to rely on a study tool when it’s not usually available.

Let’s Look at the Facts

While it is impressive that 70.8% of hearing students use closed captions at least some of the time when they’re available, consider this graph made from the entire pool of student responses (with and without hearing disabilities):

27% of students surveyed were not sure if closed captions were available in their classes

We already know from the survey that almost 100% of students use video in their coursework.

But as the graph shows, after being asked how many courses with video included closed captions, 27% of students responded “I don’t know” — the most common response for that question.

Low Exposure to Closed Captions

53.7% of respondents either had little or no exposure to captions in their courses

So, 27% of students don’t know whether closed captions are available in their courses, 11.5% claim “none” are available, and 15.2% claim “just a few” are available.

Adding that all together, we see that 53.7% of respondents either had little or no exposure to captions in their courses.

So, it would appear that most hearing students probably don’t encounter closed captions in their course-work often enough to rely on them. Even if they are available, almost a third of hearing students aren’t aware.

Would More Students Use Captions If There Was Greater Exposure?

98.6% of student find captions helpful

Our results also show that 75% of all students surveyed use closed captions as a learning tool, and 98.6% of students who use captions find them helpful.

So how can it be that almost a third of hearing students don’t use closed captions when they’re available?

More research will need to be done before any conclusions can be drawn showing a relationship between closed caption exposure and the degree to which they are used and appreciated by students in higher education.

But our study tells a unique story, and it makes one consider the possibility that the reason 29.2% of hearing students don’t use closed captions is because they were never exposed to them enough to properly appreciate, or use them as a learning tool.

For more on the research study findings, click the image below to download your copy of the full report.

Download the research study results on student uses and perceptions of closed captions & transcripts

3play media logo in blue

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.