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Transcription, Captioning and Subtitling Services

In our industry, key words like translation and interpretation often are used interchangeably as well as distinctly different terminologies. Transcription, captioning, and subtitling are terms that tend to overlap and are frequently used in combinations. Transcription is the process of creating (or transcribing) the audible content of visual media to a readable text, whereas captioning is positioning of smaller amounts of transcribed audio content to appear on-screen at the same time of the corresponding spoken words. Subtitling has been used for years in the film and television industries as translated captions that allow viewers who do not speak the native language to watch media via descriptive labels that are synched to the original dialogue. Audio-only recordings can be posted online with transcripts so hearing-impaired individuals can engage with the content or communicate with the source. Although you must first have a transcript of a video’s audio track, captions can be used to ensure users with hearing disabilities can access the video for entertainment, education, or information. The definitions as presented above do follow the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) that uses transcription services to apply to communication access as well as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that uses captioning services to apply to the synchronized text displayed below on-screen images.

ADA Online Video Accessibility

The Internet that the world relies on today for a broad spectrum of communications did not exist when the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law by Congress in 1990. Nonetheless, persons with disabilities should be able to participate in and benefit from posted multimedia and online video content. Effective solutions for hearing-related individuals include:

  • Parameters for Caption Frames
    Each caption frame should contain one to three lines of content text at a time, which is viewable for 3 to 7 seconds with none of the lines exceeding 32 characters in length.
  • Rotation of Caption Frames
    Each caption frame displayed to the user’s screen should be replaced by the next caption frame in the rotation with information presented in similar location, style, and fonts.
  • Timing of Frame Swipes
    Each caption frame should be precisely timed to sync seamlessly to the audio track and produce the same end results as experienced by hearing-capable users.
  • Location of Caption Frames
    Any caption frame that obscures other on-screen text, essential content, or crucial visual elements should be repositioned to avoid confusion or loss of meaning.

The Department of Justice is committed to helping both public and commercial entities provide the best user experience possible for online users with hearing-impaired disabilities. Recent case law has seen a broadening in scope of standards established for public agencies and e-commerce websites that contain audiovisual content.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)

Since the Americans with Disabilities Act does not specifically outline or establish standards for how organizations and businesses can make their websites and webpage audiovisual content more accessible, the Department of Justice recommends the WCAG 2.0 and WCAG 2.1 as acceptable guidelines for online content accessibility. With increased connection speeds, online videos, and other multimedia, such as training videos, product rollouts and video tours, are becoming common. However, advanced technology can present distinct problems for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Online videos today need to incorporate features that make them accessible to everyone. By working closely with an experienced service provider who offers transcription, captioning, and subtitling services, you can ensure your text captions are precisely synchronized with the video images for people with hearing disabilities. Moreover, it is important to develop a conversion plan that allows for innovative solutions for continually improving your online content for today and tomorrow. A good starting point is to make the audiovisual content on your most popular webpages a priority and to keep website visitors informed about timelines for making all video content more disability-friendly.

Improving Website Traffic with Online Video Accessibility

Improving the overall online experience for user’s with hearing impairments is a positive step forward for federal, state, and local government websites as well as an important opportunity for commercial entities to increase web traffic to their sites by providing better communication tools for potential customers. But, do not be scammed by companies offering a magic button* to push that will bring your website into full compliance with ADA or WCAG standards. In making your website’s video content fully accessible to people with disabilities, you should consult with a language professional who understands compliance issues as well as how the search engines (like Google) index your website and video content. Even though the Americans with Disabilities Act originally impacted only brick and mortar businesses, changes in technology have expanded the scope of the ADA. Currently, ADA compliance applies to any business with 15 employees or more. Moreover, several major e-commerce sites have already been sued and were forced to pay millions for not having websites that were up to code. Unfortunately, in today’s digitally driven world, many companies and online businesses that would benefit from implementing digital accessibility, like those set forth in WCAG 2.0 and 2.1, have not responded. Just as a poorly designed building can prevent some people for entering, poorly designed video content can create unnecessary barriers for people with hearing disabilities.

*As everyone adjusts to doing business in a post-pandemic era, scammers will be offering “Too Good to Be True” opportunities for resolving ADA, IDEA and WCAG compliance issues. At ProLingo, our staff is prepared to help you take full advantage of improving web traffic and website usability for hearing-impaired users through our transcription, captioning, and subtitling services.

Client Spotlight

Thank you very much for making our World Congress an outstanding success. I have a special thank you for you and your team of interpreters. I know it was a huge undertaking, but you made it seem so effortless. The simultaneous interpretation was excellent. Your staff was extremely professional and patient with the attendees. I am looking forward to working with you and your group in the near future.
- T. Washington, Convention Logistics Manager

5 / 5 stars

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