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Accessibility - Captioning Best Practices

Captioning is the transcription and display of dialogue and other auditory information, such as on- and off-screen sound effects, music, and laughter. Captioning benefits more than people who are deaf or hard of hearing. In loud or crowded spaces, captioned videos allow sighted visitors to read what they cannot hear. Captions also benefit new readers and people who are learning English as a second language.

"Every new sentence is a new line, because it can be distracting to the meaning if a sentence ends on one line, and then is followed by two words (or so) of the next sentence on that same line. The brain/eye has an easier time comprehending if a new sentence or thought starts on a new line" is one of the most important tips for captioning media according to long time WHA Public Television captioning expert, Irene Ekleberry.

Other practical tips include captions be:

(1) synchronized and appear at approximately the same time as the audio is available;
(2) verbatim when time allows, or as close as possible;
(3) equivalent and equal in content; and
(4) accessible and readily available to those who need or want them.

Important about captions and subtitles is that, when they appear on the screen, they are in an easy-to-read format. Methods of captioning Web content vary in their capabilities, but good captions adhere to the following guidelines when possible:

* Captions appear on-screen long enough to be read.
* It is preferable to limit on-screen captions to no more than two lines.
* Captions are synchronized with spoken words.
* Speakers should be identified when more than one person is on-screen or when the speaker is not visible.
* Punctuation is used to clarify meaning.
* Spelling is correct throughout the production.
* Sound effects are written when they add to understanding.
* All actual words are captioned, regardless of language or dialect.
* Use of slang and accent is preserved and identified.
* Nouns and verbs are not separated from their modifiers.
* Prepositional phrases remain on the same line.
* Italics is effective when a new word is being defined or a word is heavily emphasized in speech.
* Translating speech to text sometimes requires creative use of punctuation, but always remember the rules of good grammar.

Source: Caption it Yourself - Basic Guidelines
To explore preferred captioning techniques in greater detail, download PDF copy Captioning Key.

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Keywords: caption, captioning, line break, scrolling, synchronized, on-screen, lines, sentence, verbatim, pop-on, roll-up, subtitles, best practice, transcription, foreign language, deaf, hard of hearing   Doc ID: 11956
Owner: Phyllis T.Group: Accessibility
Created: 2009-08-10 19:00 CDTUpdated: 2014-01-15 23:16 CDT
Sites: Accessibility, DoIT Help Desk