Add YouTube Closed Captioning—Create 30 Million Opportunities


Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve come across a lot of content while ‘paroozing’ LinkedIn, random blogs and marketing emails regarding the latest and greatest mobile and video trends for 2016. However, something is consistently missing from that content. In the great wide world of video (mobile or not), something that many businesses seem drop from their radar is YouTube closed captioning. Adding grammatically appropriate captions to your YouTube videos becomes critical for your business if you’d like your messaging to reach the Deaf Community, a community of approximately 30 million people in the United States who are deaf and hard of hearing.

For those of you who may be wondering how appropriate YouTube captions relate to the Deaf Community, allow me to give you a brief background on the Deaf Community’s composition and the similarities between American Sign Language (ASL) and verbal English-speaking communications. Kent State University defines the deaf community as those “deaf and hard of hearing individuals who share a common language, common experiences and values, and a common way of interacting with each other, and with hearing people.” Deaf and hard of hearing individuals (for the most part) use American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate. The way the Deaf Community uses ASL is very similar to how hearing people speak to one another, and is an essential part of effective communication between each other and hearing people alike.

To explain a bit further, I’ll give you a hypothetical situation in 3, 2, 1…

You’ve been dating someone for three years now, and it’s getting pretty serious. You don’t want Saturday night to be just another ordinary dinner and a movie night—no, you want to do something really special. Like, really special. So, you get this fantastic idea to whip up a homemade meal at your place for your special someone. Unfortunately, you’re not a cook. In fact, you absolutely suck at cooking. Last time you made pasta-o’s in the microwave, you ended up with pasta la plastic-melted-bowl with a dash of [actual] fire. Remember how you constantly scroll past those 30-second Facebook videos with all of the delicious meals and treats? You could so find a quick, easy and amazing recipe to whip up in no time. So, you hit up YouTube and find the channel you’ve been searching for in less than thirty seconds. Now, you’re watching a video about making eggplant parmesan and can’t quite understand what the chef is saying; his voice is too low and you’re not sure what language he’s speaking. You turn the captions on, and restart the video. The first caption reads, “ask john’s cop for Elvis Presley”. UM, WHAT? You grab a friend, ask them to see if they can decipher what this guy’s talking about. Your friend immediately recognizes the recipe, and figures what they’re really saying is, “add one cup of chopped parsley”. Ugh— well there’s always take out and those nice plates you keep above the refrigerator for when your aunt comes to town.

This hypothetical situation becomes reality when you use automatic captioning, and there’s proof. Do not be that person who uploaded the video with sub-par or (even worse) automatic captions, because you wont be able reach an entire community of people who have to read the captions to understand what your message is. The point that I’m trying to emphasize here, is that no matter what audience you’re speaking to on YouTube, a large part of that audience may not be able to hear what you’re saying. Adding subtitles or closed captioning to your videos is easy and will alleviate any potential communication issues.

How To Add Subtitles & Closed Captions To Your YouTube Videos

  • Go to your Video Manager by clicking your account in the top right
    • Creator Studio – Video Manager – Videos
  • Next to the video that you want to add the captions or subtitles to, click the drop-down menu next to the edit button



There are also some additional tips you can follow to ensure your video’s captions make sense and work properly.

Tips For Adding Subtitles Or Closed Captioning

  1. Please do not use automatic captioning. Oftentimes, the text does not match what you’re saying.
  2. Choose the correct language. If your language isn’t shown, type what you’re looking for into the search bar and select the appropriate language.
  3. Before adding captions or subtitles, proofread what you transcribed (whether you’re uploading a file or adding captions directly to YouTube). This will save you some time from going back into the editor to constantly make corrections.
  4. Additionally, prior to adding closed captions, make sure that you add any unspoken audio in the text field, such as [applause], [laughter] or [explosion] to identify background sounds.
  5. If you have a subtitle or closed caption file to upload, make sure the files contain both the text as well as the time codes for when each line of text should be displayed. You can also include position and style information, which is especially useful for deaf or hard of hearing viewers. Lastly, find out if your file is supported before uploading.
  6. I recommend choosing to create the subtitles and closed captions yourself, so that you can adjust timing accordingly. Adjust when the caption starts and ends by dragging the borders around the respective text beneath the video.
  7. Don’t rush to publish the video. If you can’t finish transcribing right away, your video can be saved as a draft and completed at a later time.
  8. After you’ve added captions, watch the entire video in draft mode to make sure all of your text is correctly written and appropriately timed.

Taking the extra time to transcribe your video will go a long way with the Deaf Community (and many others) by getting your message across effectively while creating a better overall viewer experience. Even more, by adding captioning and subtitles, you will create many additional opportunities across a large community of people who have the potential to become your long-lasting customers.

If you have any additional questions regarding adding captioning or subtitles to your business’ YouTube videos, please feel free to contact us.

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