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Are Subtitles and Closed Captions the same?

what are subtitles

As the world becomes increasingly more connected and globalized, it’s important for media to be accessible to a wide audience. This includes making sure that those who are deaf or hard of hearing can still understand and enjoy audio and video content. To achieve this, various methods of providing subtitles and closed captions have been developed.

But what’s the difference between subtitles and closed captions? Are they the same thing? Let’s take a closer look.

What are Subtitles?

Subtitles are textual versions of the spoken dialogue and other audio elements of a film or television show, displayed on the screen. They are typically shown in a different color and font from the rest of the on-screen text and are placed at the bottom of the screen.

Subtitles are primarily intended for viewers who don’t speak the same language as the audio being played. For example, if a movie is in French but the viewer speaks English, they can turn on the English subtitles to follow along with the dialogue.

Subtitles can also be helpful for those who have difficulty understanding spoken dialogue due to an accent, or for those who are in a noisy environment where it’s hard to hear the audio. Subtitles are useful for making a video more accessible to a wider audience, especially if the video is educational or informational in nature.

What are Closed Captions?

Closed captions are similar to subtitles in that they provide a textual version of the audio content, but they go a step further by including additional information such as sound effects and speaker identification.

Like subtitles, closed captions are displayed on the screen and are typically placed at the bottom. However, they can be turned on and off by the viewer using their TV or media player’s closed captioning settings. This is why they are called “closed” captions – the viewer has the option to “close” them off if they don’t want to see them.

So, are Subtitles and Closed Captions the Same?

While subtitles and closed captions have some similarities, they are not the same thing. Subtitles are primarily intended for viewers who don’t speak the same language as the audio, while closed captions are designed to provide additional information and support for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

One key difference between subtitles and closed captions is the inclusion of sound effects and speaker identification in closed captions. This additional information can be helpful for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, as it provides context for the audio content and helps them better understand what is happening on screen.

It’s also worth noting that closed captions are required by law in some countries for all television programming and movies shown on TV. This ensures that deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals have equal access to the same media as hearing individuals.

For those who can hear but do not understand the language, the subtitles are for them. As a result, just the spoken content—not sound effects or other audio components—is displayed in subtitles. Usually, they are used to refer to translations, as subtitles for a foreign movie.

On the other hand, closed subtitles are intended for hearing-impaired and deaf viewers. They transmit all audio data, including non-speech components, speaker IDs, and sound effects. The language of the video’s source is used for the closed captions. They date back to the 1970s and are mandated by law for the majority of American video programming.

Conclusion:

In summary, subtitles and closed captions are not the same things. Subtitles are intended for viewers who don’t speak the same language as the audio, while closed captions provide additional information and support for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. While both serve a valuable purpose in making audio and video content more accessible, it’s important to understand the differences between the two.