Over the last several days, many people on Twitter posted links to what appear to be interesting videos. Unfortunately, none of these videos were captionned. I am "only" hard of hearing and mostly have no big issues functioning. But phone calls and online videos are two occurences of giving me a really hard time. Hard to subtitle or caption phone calls. Not so hard to caption videos – if the system you use allows it.
I Chose YouTube
I looked at many options when I was looking at options to host my video footage for The Wheeling Gourmet. I ended up going with YouTube. Because they allowed the addition of captioning *and* subtitling files to videos (captions and subtitles are different altogether). The advantage of that is I can have the videos available to people with hearing issues (including those at work, or situations, who cannot openly listen to videos or use headphones…). I can also create subtitles for different languages, making my videos available to non-English speakers. I write French subtitles as well as the English captions as part of my "target market" will be speaking French.
Ted.com Does It Well
One video was hosted on ted.com. Their system does allow subtitles. It’s nicely done. Unfortunately, the video in question did not have any subtitles offered: Derek Sivers: Weird, or just different? But another had 21 languages offered! Dan Dennett: Cute, sexy, sweet, funny. So Ted.com does allow for captioning/subtitling, and it’s up to whomever puts the video up to offer such captions. But then, ted.com is NOT a video hosting service!
The other video was offered by @SkeeterNYC. Liza hosts her videos on Vimeo. When I pointed out to her that I couldn’t get the content because her video wasn’t captionned, she immediately asked what she could do to make the content available. That is a great attitude. Love it.
Unfortunately, unless Liza selects a different video hosting service than Vimeo, she won’t be able to do a thing about it. You see, Vimeo doesn’t offer the ability to provide captionning. From the Vimeo FAQ:
Does Vimeo support closed captioning?
Vimeo does not currently support the use of separate closed captioning text files. If you want any kind of text to appear in your video, including closed captioning, it needs to be added to the actual video, like any other graphics.
We hope to have time to develop proper support for closed captioning soon.
The interesting thing is that this is a request that has been requested a lot for a long time. But they aren’t moving. They are sending mixed messages, on the one hand saying it’s important to them to offer captions, on the other hand, they still don’t offer the ability to offer captions. A most interesting October 2009 blog post by Eric Stoller discusses this a bit more in depth – Vimeo and Closed Captioning.
Captioning videos can be time consuming. And it can be tricky to find the right service that allows it. But you will expand your "market" by making the content available to a greater audience, whether that be people with hearing "boo-boos", or people who don’t speak English "too goodly".
Here are some pages I found helpful on the topic of captioning: