How Assistive Technologies & Subtitles Support People with ADHD

By: Verbit Editorial



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ADHD or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is one of the most common childhood disorders in the US. However, the effects of ADHD can continue well into adolescence and adulthood. Studies suggest that roughly 4.4% of US adults have been diagnosed with ADHD. Still, the disorder’s actual prevalence may be much higher due to potentially significant rates of underdiagnosis. 

Individuals with ADHD may find it difficult to focus or pay attention in professional and academic settings. For this reason, it’s critical for organizations to provide accommodations and resources for individuals with ADHD and other neurodiverse conditions. Providing captions and subtitles for video content, meetings and events helps business leaders and marketers offer inclusive, accessible brand experiences. Taking time to accommodate people of diverse backgrounds and abilities is a winning strategy for businesses and other organizations.

Table of Contents:

Captioning and Subtitles: What are They?

Captions provide an on-screen, readable account of the audio track of a live video or video recording. Closed captioning is popular because users can enable and disable these according to personal preferences. Captions include representations of both spoken dialogue and non-speech audio elements to provide more equitable viewing experiences for audience members who are Deaf or hard of hearing.  

Subtitles are a form of captioning that convey only the spoken dialogue of a video. Subtitles do not represent other audio elements of a recording such as sound effects, pauses or music cues. For this reason, subtitles are best for viewers consuming content in a non-native language. Essentially, subtitles provide on-screen translations in real-time. 

Alternatively, closed captions are generally better for accessibility purposes. Captions provide a more comprehensive representation of the audio track of the content rather than just the dialogue. Many content creators and business professionals incorporate captions to support accessibility standards like the Americans with Disabilities Act.  

ADHD and Subtitles

Many businesses recently embraced hybrid and remote work arrangements that significantly increase employees’ dependence on virtual forms of communication. However, some individuals with ADHD may find it difficult to focus in certain settings and environments. Unfortunately, increasingly digital work environments may not be sufficiently inclusive of all employees. For certain individuals with ADHD, subtitles or captions can serve as an excellent tool and provide necessary support during video calls, meetings, webinars and more.  

Are Subtitles Good for ADHD?

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to improving accessibility for individuals with ADHD. However, research suggests adding subtitles to video content improves information retention and makes it easier for some viewers to focus. There are many well-documented benefits of multi-modal learning strategies for individuals with ADHD, and subtitles are a great option for providing additional support.  

Do Subtitles Help You With Focus?

In the past, some researchers suspected that for viewers with ADHD, closed captions could negatively impact their ability to focus. This was because reading on-screen subtitles and captions requires the audience to split their focus between multiple streams of information. However, recent studies suggest that for some individuals with ADHD, watching tv with subtitles may make following along easier. Real-time subtitles and captions provide an easily-digestible, visual representation of information that contributes to improved understanding. Also, repeated or redundant exposure to the same ideas can help boost information recall in the long run. 

Why Do Neurodivergent People Need Subtitles?

ADHD is one of many neurodiverse conditions that impact the way people receive and process information. Autism spectrum disorder is another common form of neurodiversity, and many individuals with ASD experience similar benefits from captioning efforts as individuals with ADHD. It’s worth noting that many individuals with ASD also meet the diagnostic criteria for ADHD, and closed captioning and other assistive technologies may be capable of addressing multiple needs simultaneously.

Some people with ASD experience increased sensitivity to certain visual and auditory stimuli. For this reason, it’s not uncommon for some people with ASD to prefer to watch video content on mute. In this case, offering viewers accurate captions can provide an equitable viewing experience that does not trigger auditory sensitivities.  

There are other available assistive technologies for students with autism that may also prove useful in the workplace and at home. Audio description, for example, can support the viewing experiences of people with ASD. This solution essentially provides real-time narration of certain behaviors depicted in video content. Some people with ASD require additional support in order to interpret and understand social cues. As a result, an audio description track can help to provide additional clarity.  

How to Create Accurate Captions

In order to prove effective as an accessibility tool, captions and subtitles must achieve a high level of accuracy. Some communication and media platforms offer auto-captioning capabilities for both live and recorded content. These auto-captions are convenient and seemingly cost-effective. Unfortunately, they often fall short of the accuracy requirements set by accessibility standards and thus require additional reviews and editing.  

Those looking for accurate, efficient captioning solutions may want to consider partnering with a professional captioning provider like Verbit. Verbit uses a dual approach to captioning and transcription that supports the creation of a large volume of captions with targeted accuracy rates of up to 99%. With its efficient workflow, Verbit can achieve this in just a matter of hours.  

When a user uploads a video recording to Verbit’s platform, it’s initially transcribed using an advanced form of artificial intelligence. This transcript then undergoes editing and review by a professionally-trained human transcriber. Next, Verbit uses that transcript to create a caption file that contains both the text of the captions and the corresponding timings. The final caption file finally becomes available for download on Verbit’s platform in a variety of file formats. Users can choose a format that’s compatible with major media hosting and social media sites. Verbit also offers a number of software integrations with popular online communication platforms – like Zoom – that make it possible to caption meetings, webinars and other virtual events in real-time.  

Verbit: Embracing Technology for Improved Accessibility

Many individuals with ADHD become successful professionals, even in the face of insufficiently accessible educational or professional environments. In fact, individuals with ADHD are roughly 300x more likely to start their own business than their neurotypical counterparts. Diversity is a valuable asset to businesses and organizations, so it’s important for industry and thought leaders to support individuals who think and work in various different ways. 

Verbit offers a wide range of assistive technologies like captioning, transcription, translation and audio description. These solutions support the diverse needs of employees and clients. Proactively offering these accommodations can help provide much-needed support to individuals with disabilities, those who are neurodiverse and others. Reach out to learn more about the benefits of partnering with Verbit to offer more inclusive communications, environments and experiences for all.