Making Your Videos Accessible: The Importance of Subtitles

From improved comprehension for non-native speakers to increased social media sharing, discover why adding subtitles to your videos became essential.
Miley Dowing
January 25, 2023

Subtitles were once reserved for viewing foreign arthouse films and watching television with hearing limitations. However, they've since become a regular and expected part of the video-viewing experience.

Whether you're a social media marketer or an educator, adding subtitles to content is necessary. Here are some clear reasons why adding subtitles has become an essential part of our culture.

Improved Localization and Translation

Technology has somehow simultaneously made the world smaller and larger. It's broadened our horizons and introduced thought-provoking ideas and concepts. It's also made the rest of the world closer and more attainable. The idea of having ongoing conversations or working with teams that speak different languages was once unbelievable. Now, it's a reality for many.

Adding subtitles is essential for improving localization and translation. This simple-yet-necessary task can be completed with video editing software. The written text makes it easier for those who speak English as a second language to process and translate into their native language.

Adding subtitles can help global teams communicate and help brands reach a broader audience with minimal additional resources or effort.

Improved Viewing Opportunities

In today's fast-paced, mobile-driven society, people are increasingly watching videos on the go, whether on their smartphones, tablets, or other portable devices. 

A significant percentage of individuals watch video content with the sound turned off, either due to noise in their environment or because they prefer to watch videos without disturbing others around them (or themselves).

Whether viewers are watching on a crowded subway or aren't ready for noise as they sip their morning coffee, this is where subtitles can be handy. They allow viewers to understand and follow the content of a video even when the sound is off. Failing to include subtitles dramatically reduces your content's reach, as muted listeners will scroll by.

Improved Accessibility for Cognitive Disabilities

Subtitles can be a valuable resource for individuals with cognitive or learning disabilities, as they can help improve understanding and retention when watching a video. 

By providing a written representation of the spoken content, subtitles can help these individuals follow along with the video and better understand the presented information. This can be especially helpful for individuals with learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, as it can provide a visual cue to help them process and retain the content. 

As it's estimated that 10.8% of adults in the US have a cognitive disability, failing to include subtitles can reduce the reach, retention, and comprehension of your video content. This consideration is especially significant for educators.

Improved Reach and Re-sharing

One can hypothesize that a video that gets viewed more will also get shared more as you reach more people to hit that share button. Yet, beyond assuming that those watching on mute or relying on subtitles to understand will share your videos, there's evidence to support it.

An experiment by Instapage identified that Facebook videos with subtitles were shared 15% more than those without. Google can also index captions on videos posted on YouTube, increasing your reach further.

Final Thoughts

Subtitles are essential for maximizing the potential of your video content. So for businesses who want their video content to be accessible to everyone, I urge you to add subtitles to your content. This will improve accessibility, maximize your returns, and reach a global audience.

Miley Dowing

Miley is the IT consultant with Daily Cup of Tech who helps digital businesses reach their full online potential. Miley is passionate about programming and IT consulting. Her current focus is helping SaaS businesses create a better world for our kids. She frequently writes about the latest advancements in the digital and tech industry.

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