An audience at a performance

Subtitling and Captioning Digital Content

As technology moves forward, more and more arts organisations are making their work available digitally, from full theatre productions and trailers to interviews and talks. The vast majority of these digitised arts experiences are not currently accessible to deaf, deafened and hard of hearing people.

Deaf, deafened and hard of hearing audience members are much more likely to come to your theatre and watch your captioned (or British Sign Language Interpreted) performances if they’re able to watch your online trailer videos and related content. Subtitling your online video content is one of the easiest ways to make your work accessible to a wider range of audiences.

What is the difference between captions and subtitles?

‘Captions’ is the term used to describe the text based access in theatres in the UK. The term originated from the US where it is also used to describe access for cinema and television, where we would say ‘subtitles’.

The digital version of a theatre production, such as those on the Digital Theatre website, have captions as the original shows were captioned and the captioned script is used to prepare the text added to the film.

All other content on your website will have subtitles for example trailers for captioned theatre shows, interviews and related theatre content.

Things to consider:

  • You should not rely on the automatically generated captions on YouTube, they are not accurate.
  • Vimeo and Youtube provide useful advice on captioning your work
  • Follow our guide to captioning your Youtube videos
  • There are approximately 11 million people in the UK with some form of hearing loss, or one in six of the population. This is potentially a huge number of people who might not be able to access your work without subtitles/captions. Add to that people with English as a second language who use the subtitles to aid understanding, students, people viewing in noisy environments or those trying not to disturb others, and you have a large previously excluded audience.
  • Videos with subtitles added are easier to find in search engines as an accurate transcript of the text is available

If you would like help adding captions or subtitles to your digital content please contact Stagetext.