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The Difference Between Subtitles, Closed Captions and SDH


While many people believe that all video captioning is created equal, there are key distinctions between each kind that make them ideally suited for different content types and audiences. Let’s explore the main differences between the three most common options: subtitles, closed captions, and Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (SDH).


What are Subtitles?

Subtitles are written transcriptions that are synchronized to media files so that they play at the same time as the spoken word. They can either be embedded in the file itself, or they can be turned on or off at the user’s discretion. Most importantly, subtitles are designed for hearing users, as they only cover spoken text. They do not include sound effects or other audio elements.

There are several benefits to subtitles, including:

  • Clarifying heavily accented or otherwise inaudible speech
  • Translating foreign speech
  • Allowing listeners or viewers to engage with media in noise prohibitive environments


The Difference Between Regular and SDH Subtitles 

As mentioned above, subtitles are meant for hearing listeners and only transcribe spoken word. SDH, on the other hand, are designed for those who are deaf, Deaf, or hard of hearing.

  • Deaf with a lowercase “d” refers to those who have no ability to hear but can communicate orally.
  • Deaf with an uppercase “D” refers to members of the Deaf community, who choose to communicate almost solely through Sign Language.
  • Hard of hearing refers to those with any level of hearing impairment that compromises their ability to process sound in some way. This category includes individuals with hearing aids.

SDH subtitles provide a richer experience for these media consumers when compared to subtitles. This is accomplished by adding additional information, such as speaker tags, sound effects and other elements outside of speech.

For example, SDH subtitles will indicate audio elements such as music, coughing or laughter audience laughter. Similar to plain subtitles, SDH also run simultaneously with the audio or video file, syncing the transcript with the action/speech.


Is SDH Subtitles the Same as Closed Captioning?

Closed captions are required by law on all public broadcasts, as per FCC regulations. They can be found on most televisions and are usually what pop up if you choose the subtitle option on a traditional TV. Although geared toward the same audience and similar in content, there are a number of differences between closed captions and SDH subtitles.

  • You’ll find SDH on many more media types, such as streaming internet videos and Blu Ray DVDs. This is because closed captioning is not supported by High Definition Media Interface (HDMI), while regular subtitles and SDH are.
  • Closed captions are typically formatted as white text on a black background that can be positioned anywhere on the screen. In contrast, SDH is usually found on the bottom third of the screen and can vary in color.
  • SDH will come with the option to turn the subtitles on or off, and often can be manipulated to be larger or smaller in font. Closed captions, on the other hand, rarely include these kinds of options.
  • SDH and closed captions are encoded differently. While closed captions are encoded as a stream of commands, control codes, and text, SDH are typically encoded as bitmap images or a series of tiny dots or pixels.

Aside from individuals with auditory deficits, subtitles offer many benefits to a wide range of people by:

  • Improving comprehension for ESL speakers
  • Helping viewers with attention deficit or cognitive difficulties
  • Helping viewers understand speakers with accents or speech impediments


Impacting Accessibility Through SDH Subtitles

The biggest benefit to including subtitles lies in increasing accessibility to multimedia content. SDH allows viewers who cannot access the auditory component of a media file to still enjoy the media in the fullest way possible, without missing out on the supplementary sounds that add to the overall viewing experience. SDH also gives audiences with hearing impairments the closest thing to an equal experience, which is important not only for disability rights but also for information acquisition.


While SDH undoubtedly enriches entertainment value, it also provides a more level playing field when it comes to educational, work and informational resources. Regardless of the content, SDH enables greater inclusion for a portion of the population that would otherwise be cut off from many forms of media.

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6 Reasons to Visit Verbit at NAB Show NYC

The NAB show in New York City officially kicked off yesterday, drawing in a massive crowd of professionals across the media, entertainment and technology industries. Attendees descended upon the Javits Center to learn about the latest industry trends and witness firsthand the cutting-edge technology propelling these changes – including Verbit’s AI-powered transcription captioning solution.

For any organization looking to bolster their captioning capabilities, Verbit’s solution is a must-see at the NAB Show. Here are the top 6 reasons to swing by booth N856:


1. Expand your reach

Video captions are a simple and effective way to get your content in front of more eyes, more often. Why limit your audience to only English-speakers? Captions can help you increase your international reach by serving as the basis for translation. Captions also add an extra layer of comprehension to any video, enhancing understanding by allowing viewers to engage multiple senses as they read the words, watch the video and listen to the audio all at the same time.


2. Increase engagement

50% of all video content is consumed on mobile devices, meaning more people are consuming videos on the go, like on public transportation, in libraries or at the gym. Captions allow viewers to enjoy no matter where they are. They’re also a great way to catch a viewer’s eye, serving as an extra hook to draw people in and keep them engaged for longer.  


3. Repurpose content  

As the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Transcripts and captions represent a written version of your videos that can transformed into other valuable pieces of content, like blogs or infographics. Having captions makes creating new content easy , so you can repurpose your most popular, SEO-friendly pieces into other engaging collateral.


4. Boost SEO

Search engines can’t filter through audio or video files to match them with search terms; they work exclusively through words. Transcripts and captions create searchable and indexable content that is more easily discovered by search engine algorithms. Higher search rankings means more viewers can discover and fall in love with your content.


5. Impact accessibility

Over 350 million people worldwide are affected by a hearing impairment. Adding video captions ensures that millions of potential viewers don’t miss out. It’s a simple way to make sure that anyone who wants to consume your content can do so with no barriers. It’s also the law. A number of federal bodies and regulations, such as the FCC and ADA, require media producers to meet certain accessibility standards, making captions a must-have for many organizations.


6. Free popcorn

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Ditch the long lineups at the Javits concession stands and drop by booth N856 to grab some delicious popcorn!


Video content has never been more popular. An estimated five hundred hours of video are uploaded to Youtube every minute. Add to that videos on other entertainment, social media, news, and education sites and you’re looking at an astounding mass of footage. With this massive amount of content growing larger by the minute, a powerful transcription and captioning solution makes all the difference in reaching new viewers without limitations.

Don’t miss your chance to stop by booth N856 and catch a glimpse of Verbit’s industry-leading transcription and captioning solution in action. We’ll see you there!

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