How do you feel about captions? What about automated captioning?

Captions or Craptions?

Yesterday I was listening to a great podcast from 99 Percent Invisible about Craptions. These are poorly made captions that are missing accuracy, punctuation or who is speaking.

Do you use captions? If why?

Is it due to hearing loss, when watching a show in anon-native language, to more easily hear mumbling actors or some other reason (like forgetting your headphones and watching a show on the train!)

Here is the link to the episode. Please have a listen if you are interested.


  • Meryl Evans
    Meryl Evans Member (Full) Posts: 16

    I could write a dissertation. But I won't. I'll share the Captions Guide and side-by-side videos that help people understand why captioning best practices matter.

  • Christine Hemphill
    Christine Hemphill Member (Full) Posts: 11

    I love captions (when they are done well). Here are a few reasons why.

    I am slightly hard of hearing and especially in noisy environments, or where the amplification isn't great I use the captions to support my hearing and access more of the content.

    I often attend conferences or events where people have different accents as they are not speaking in their native language, or I don't speak the language they are presenting in, people may also have a Deaf accent, or some other more individual speech pattern. I was having brunch with a brilliant gentleman recently who has both a slight deaf accent combined with a Russian accent. We used live captioning both ways at times when one or other of us needed it. The automatically generated AI captioning was very helpful to enjoying a relaxed conversation without the need for anyone else to support our communication.

    I also live in a country where the language is non-native to me and so government bureaucracy etc. is much easier to navigate if videos are captioned or audio content has transcripts. Watching the news or other entertainment is great with captions on also. I use French captions on French audio and it helps me understand more of the content. I can also slowly pick up the difference between how things are written and how they sound this way.

    Lastly, I travel a lot so grabbing a bit of content on the move such as watching an interview on a train I generally have captions on even though I usually have good headphones with me. It just helps me absorb the content.

    In short, I love captions. They help me out a lot! The better the quality of the captions (accuracy, size, placement and background colour / font contrast) the better.

  • Meryl Evans
    Meryl Evans Member (Full) Posts: 16
    edited July 2023

    OfCom Report shows 80% of the people (they represent the statistic differently, but it's the same thing for easier understanding) who use captions aren't even hard of hearing. People tell me every single day they use captions and make it a point to say they're not deaf or HoH. A lot of folks say they turned them on because they were having trouble ... and never turned them off as they liked them so much.

    Yes, quality captions matter. There are best practices. Captions aren't simply adding words for all spoken dialog. Formatting, timing, line breaks, line lengths, etc. all matter. Here's a caption guide and side-by-side videos showing the reasoning for each best practice.

  • Andrew Warren
    Andrew Warren Member (Full) Posts: 5

    I use captions every day as I am deaf. My biggest frustrations are with live broadcasts, while I understand it is live and the poor captionist is typing as fast they can, the quality of the captions suffers.

    I was blown away when I was visiting the United Kingdom and watched several TV shows in my hotel room, the captions had different colors depending on who the person was speaking! I've never seen that in the USA before so I hope that standard comes to the USA one day.

    My hearing wife depends on captions as well! Some of the dialogue can be very soft or accents can be hard for my wife to hear/understand.

  • Christine Hemphill
    Christine Hemphill Member (Full) Posts: 11

    @Andrew Warren really interesting that coloured captions is not a thing in the USA yet. It is quite commonly used in the UK. We have done some work for a broadcaster in the UK on what captions work where. They were captioning social media content (TikToc and Instagram) and using colour as well as italics to convey meaning (italics when someone off-screen was talking).

    I empathise with your wife re accents! The UK has so many accents and some, like people from the far north of Scotland, are pretty challenging for me to understand. Definitely need captioning there! Mind you they probably say the same about my Aussie accent.