#SubtitleIt: Subtitles for On-Demand content

Recently, whilst I have been on Twitter, I’ve noticed a couple of tweets from Deafie Blogger (who runs a great blog – check it out!) and Action on Hearing Loss. In particular, it is about subtitling on-demand content.

Today, I thought I would talk about the importance of subtitles for me. For those who don’t know, I’m mildly deaf/hard of hearing and use hearing aids. In terms of subtitles, I often have to put them on in a loud environment or when it’s an American drama (actors on The Walking Dead – for example – do tend to mumble).

Speaking of The Walking Dead, when the show was broadcast on Channel 5, it was without subtitles. I felt lost – I would only understand the story which was being told visually (i.e. someone being killed by a zombie), not through dialogue which would add extra detail to the story. In turn, I miss out on the while experience of watching the show.

Another show which doesn’t have subtitles is Gogglebox. Whilst I am fortunate to hear the dialogue OK without them, I know a few fellow deafies that want to watch it but can’t. With shows like Gogglebox, which is very comedic, subtitles enable us to be involved with the jokes just like everyone else. Otherwise, we are left confused as to what everyone else is laughing at and that isn’t too great.

But in terms of online subtitling (which is what Action on Hearing Loss’ campaign is about), I think broadcasters still haven’t mastered it, or they don’t use it at all.

BBC iPlayer has always done a fantastic job, in my opinion, but it’s services like ITV Player and All 4 (formerly 4 OD) which are lacking.

For example, a while back there was a show on ITV called Safe House. I can’t remember the exact details but either the live broadcast or on-demand version didn’t have subtitles. Either way, that is a large audience of deaf people who are missing out.

In fact, with most on-demand services, it’s become a battle to watch the live version with subtitles or risk watching the online version with none at all. It’s not exactly fair.

Another example is when I was watching Channel 4’s Hunted on catch-up. Yes, the subtitles were there, but along with the ‘play bar’ at the bottom, it was covering up w lot of the screen, it’s fair to say that work needs to be done when it comes to subtitles on on-demand services.

On a similar note, I thought I would discuss closed captions (subtitles) on YouTube. At the moment, I really enjoy watching Rikki Poynter‘s videos about her campaign to get more YouTubers to CC their videos.

But also, two great vloggers who CC their content are Maeve (a really good blogger friend of mine) and TomSka. I actually met Tom yesterday at a book signing and I talked to him about closed captioning, thanking him for it and he was so kind about it all. He makes comedy videos online and it’s fair to say that without those closed captions, some jokes may be missed by a deaf viewer.

For me, that’s why subtitles – on any content – is so important. It stops us from missing out on key information, jokes and more.

So lastly, I wanted to talk about a campaign which is being run by Action on Hearing Loss called #SubtitleIt. They are asking for people to contact their local MP asking them to support a new bill which will greatly improve online subtitles.

Find out more information and send an email to your MP about the campaign here.

How important are subtitles to you? Comment below!

Liam

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