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Open vs. Closed Caption Videos

Q: I am trying to make videos on my website more accessible for my customers by adding captioning. Can you explain the difference between open and closed captioning?

A: Good question. Of course, you’ll want to add captioning to your videos so people who can’t hear them can still understand the audio content by reading text on the screen as the video plays. This text should communicate the essential audio, meaning not only the spoken words, but also non-speech sounds that convey meaning or impact, like footsteps or music that helps to set the mood.

Open captioning means the text is embedded in the video itself and will always appear on the screen as the video plays—the user cannot turn the captions off. With closed captioning, the user may turn the captions on or off.

Publishing accessible videos online requires thoughtful planning, because not all media players and streaming platforms support closed captioning.


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