According to data from the Archives of Internal Medicine published in 2011, there are 48 million of American people aged 12 or older having hearing loss. If including 3 million of children, it would make a total of over 50 million of deaf and hard of hearing people in USA. It’s one in five Americans!
While hearing aids and cochlear implants improve hearing, they do not cure it and results vary for each person. Not all deaf and hard of hearing people can or want to use them for various reasons. Also, many people using hearing devices still rely on visual means such as lipreading, captioning, sign language, cued speech, and so on. Most of them rely on captioning as universal access that benefits not just those with hearing difficulties, but everyone. Despite this fact, most of aural information is not captioned and only a few online video players offer a captioning feature. Even if a player has the CC button, many videos are not captioned.
YouTube came up with an auto captioning feature years ago which is great. However, their purpose was to make it easier for video producers to create captions with a tool readily available which is faster and more efficient than using traditional tools. The auto captioning feature is not meant to do work on its own because machine-generated captions are often inaccurate and very frustrating to read. Quality captioning is as important as quality audio – according to a research, errors of over 3% makes it hard to understand information. Quality captioning are error-free and based on certain guidelines and machines cannot follow many of them such as adding proper punctuation, speaker identifications, sound descriptions, and so on. Therefore, captions need either to be done from scratch or to be cleaned up after being generated by machine.
Bad captions may not be a big deal for those who can hear videos, but it is to those who rely on quality captioning as the only means to access aural information. Many video producers who think that just turning on audio captioning feature without editing them may be amazed to find out how bad auto generated captions are after they try to watch their videos without sound on.
The example is a video by Caption Fail: Jamaican Vacation Hoax:
For these reasons, YouTube video producers need to clean up auto captions or to create them from scratch or to hire qualified captioning vendors. Some think about crowdsourcing captioning, but it’s a bad idea – especially for professional videos. There are many quality captioning guidelines to follow and only experienced captioners and captioning consultants (like myself) know best practices. So it’s best to hire qualified specialists to create captions for professional videos.
Do you want to create quality captions for your audio, video, live events? Check the book, Sound Is Not Enough: Captioning as Universal Design, or contact Audio Accessibility for consulting on how to ensure that your podcasts, videos, webinars, live events have quality captioning (if you plan to invest into quality providers) and/or for training on how to create captions/transcripts for your podcasts and videos (if you want to do them on your own) and to get a quality check on your finalized captions/transcripts. Looking forward to working with you!