The Importance of Subtitling: Accessibility for All

According to the American Press Institute, 85 percent of videos viewed on Facebook are watched without sound. This is often a choice for many users. But for others, this is a necessity in order to access the content.

For those who are deaf or hard of hearing, captions are the only way to enjoy, and benefit from, the video content that many of us take for granted.  Even for those able to lipread, a large chunk of video content features people speaking off camera, or sound overlay over images or other visuals.


466 Million people around the world are deaf or hard of hearing. This number is predicted to rise to 900 million by 2050.  


Currently, there is only one US law (Chapter 5 of Title III of the American Disabilities Act) that encourages captioning and subtitles for all audiovisual content online. Unfortunately, this law is only enforced on federally funded websites, leaving videos on the majority of sites that most people click through daily, up to the discretion of the creators of the video content.

Why should you care?

Subtitles are a Smart Business Decision

Current data shows that 85 percent of Facebook users are watching video content with no sound. This is a huge number of people and from only one site. It is not a far leap to assume that users view videos the same way on other sites. Therefore, if you want to have loads of people watching your content, you should caption and subtitle your video!

Subtitles are Proven to Enhance Learning

The majority of the world’s population are visual learners, at a whopping 65 percent.

For visual learners, video content is becoming an increasingly helpful educational tool for understanding concepts that they could not grasp in class with traditional teaching methods.

With the rise of online learning resources such as Udacity and Complexity Explorer, the Internet is becoming the best space for visual learners.

A video from California Academy of Sciences, subtitled to 18 languages by their volunteers on Amara

These videos make learning fun, interactive, and visually appealing. This can be helpful, not only for visual learners, but also for students who struggle to focus and need quick, entertaining teaching methods to keep their minds fully engaged and processing the information. Of course, it has the added bonus of increasing access to educational resources for deaf and hard of hearing learners. It is only right that deaf or hard of hearing students get the same access to these new educational tools as their hearing peers.


It is our job, as socially conscious members of society, to be aware and take action when not everyone’s needs are being taken into consideration.


Join the Movement to Make More Content Accessible

We need each and everyone of you to help make content accessible to everyone. Here are a few ways to get involved:

  1. When you spot a video without captions or subtitles, contact the creators of the video.
  2. Help subtitle videos using Amara.
  3. Volunteer to subtitle with organizations like TED Talks and Udacity.