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Closed Captioning Craze!

I never really thought too much about how important closed captioning is until our most recent class. Closed captions are a text version of the spoken part of a TV show, movie, video, or computer presentation. It also provides a text version of whatever sounds are happening, such as music, audience laughter during a sitcom, or an explosion during an action movie.

Closed captioning is primarily for the benefit of people who are hearing-impaired. However, like many accessibility features, it can benefit those who are not disabled as well. For example, have you ever wanted to watch a video in a crowded place but you didn’t have your headphones? Have you ever wanted to watch Netflix but found that your computer’s speakers aren’t working? Or what about if you’re watching a video in a language that you know pretty well but could still use some help in understanding what everyone is saying? Closed captioning can come in handy in all of those situations!

Did you know that 20% of Americans have some kind of hearing loss? That’s a pretty sizeable part of our population. As a person who is one of the other 80%, it’s easy to take being able to hear videos for granted. The majority of TV channels and movies have options to turn on closed captioning, but that option isn’t always available for videos online, even with all of the strides we have made with web accessibility. That’s why websites such as Amara are so important. Amara is a way for anyone to caption and translate videos from the internet. One of our assignments for this week was to caption a short (one minute) video using Amara, and I actually had a lot more fun with it than I thought! It’s pretty easy once you get the hang of it, and anyone can do it! All you need to do is:

1. Create an account (it’s free!)
2. Choose a video and upload it to Amara
3. Write out the transcript for the video
4. Sync the captions to the audio (this is the tricky part!)

Captioning a video definitely requires patience, but it’s very rewarding. Something that is relatively easy to us can mean so much to a person with a hearing impairment, and websites like Amara bring the internet one step closer to total accessibility- and the best part is that we get to help!

Here’s the video that I captioned (you’ll have to click the link because Amara doesn’t seem to want to let me embed the video!):

How I Met Your Mother- Desperation Day

If I have free time in the future, I’ll definitely consider captioning more videos!

Want to know more about hearing impairments? Check out these links:

Basic Facts About Hearing Loss

Types, Causes, and Treatments of Hearing Impairments

National Association of the Deaf


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