Video transcription is sometimes treated like an afterthought or an extra feature. But we’re here to tell you that it is an essential part of video production. In the extreme case, video transcription can be required by law for publicly available information hosted by governmental, educational, and commercial institutions. But the benefits of closed captioning or video transcription go beyond legal requirements. For any content creator, creating a transcript for a video makes that video more discoverable, more accessible, and more enjoyable. Read on to see how to grow your audience, online your content creation, and create a better user experience for your viewers.
It’s no surprise that captions make videos more accessible. And captions are just timed transcriptions. For deaf and hard of hearing viewers, captions are a necessity for accessibility. Videos without captions may be all right for some people, but anyone with a hearing disability can’t access the content. And according to the World Health Organization, 20% of the world population has hearing loss. In addition to deaf and hard of hearing people, captions can also be beneficial for people who have difficulty processing information. Neurodiverse populations, like people with Autism or ADHD, can sometimes struggle with processing audio information and captions can be a great help. Without captions, some information might be lost or misunderstood. Creating a text version of the audio makes for a more robust viewing experience. It can be frustrating to navigate a world that is often not friendly to people with disabilities. But if you include transcription in your video production plan from the start, you can show your audience your commitment to inclusivity.
- Legal compliance
Creating content that is publicly available often also means creating content that is publicly accessible for legal reasons. For educational institutions, this means making sure that students can access course content so that they have equal opportunity to learn. For commercial institutions, this means ensuring that all employment materials are accessible to avoid discrimination lawsuits from the start. In the United States, there are many anti-discrimination laws put in place to ensure equal access to public information for people with disabilities like the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act specifically requires information and communication technology to be accessible to people with disabilities. In addition to federal laws, states have “mini 508” laws whose requirements are farther reaching than the federal laws. If you are unsure of where to start with preparing your content for legal compliance, check out the WCAG guidelines which outline both captioning and audio description requirements. It is better to be prepared and know what is required then to worry about future lawsuits.
- Better user experience
Video transcription makes content more accessible, also makes for a better user experience overall. On a basic level it creates an additional way to engage with the video. Transcription makes it easier for people to search for a specific topic within a video. Imagine a student studying for an exam or a friend sharing a video with someone. They’re looking for a specific phrase and instead of scrolling through and guessing when they heard it, they can just search for the text in the transcript and go directly to that timestamp.
Transcription also makes video more usable on the go. Videos with transcripts or captions are easier to access in sound sensitive environments like public spaces. People can watch videos on mute and still be able to understand and enjoy it wherever they are.
There are also benefits to reading subtitles. Creating a text version of speech in a video also enhances comprehension of the content. Especially for technical content which might have words that your audience is not yet familiar with, having both the audio and textual information means that your audience has double the opportunity to engage with and understand the video. And for students who have learning disabilities, having more ways to access the content boosts lesson comprehension.
- Better ranking on search engines
Transcripts make videos more searchable by people but also by search engines. Search engines crawl through content on the internet and can only read the information that you put out there. Search engines are still not great at comprehending video content, but text is much easier for them to read and catalog. Prepare for success by including keywords which will then show up in your transcript and be read by search engines so that people can find your videos more easily.
Your SEO ranking is also affected by viewer engagement which is boosted by video transcription. Creating a transcript increases the time people spend on your page and the amount of engagement. The better your search engine optimization, the more people will view your page. The better your user experience, the more people will engage with your content and share it with others. All of this activity feeds back into SEO rankings and makes it more likely that people will click on your links instead of others.
- Grow your audience
In addition to making your videos more discoverable on search engines, video transcription also expands your potential audience across language barriers. For people whose first language is not the language of your video, be helpful for comprehension to include a text version. They could be learning your language and need a little bit of extra help to understand words that are less familiar. If you are looking to expand your audience to multilingual and international audiences, transcription is a great first step. It can also prepare your video for more expansion by making it easier to translate later. The work that you put into creating a transcript for your video can pay off later when you’re ready for translation or localization. You could prepare your video for viewers in another language through translation or go a step further and localize your content for enjoyment by people who belong to a more specific language community with their local dialect.
- Streamline content creation
If you transcribe your video it’s much easier to take the transcript and convert it into other content. Maybe you make a popular video and you would like to capitalize on that success. A transcript makes it much easier to take information and convert it into several other pieces of content on various platforms. You could take your transcript and expand it into a series of blog posts or split it up into a few months worth of social media posts on the same topic. This can save you time and allow you to more easily tackle a busy content creation calendar.
- Preserve your work
We know that a lot of work goes into video production and that’s why we don’t take it for granted. Video transcription is not an extra step on top of the rest of the production process. It is a way to preserve the information and ensure that viewers receive it in an accessible and enjoyable way.
Sometimes information can be lost to viewers due to audio issues like background noise or other difficult audio. But if you capture the audio and write it down it can go a long way to preserve the work that has already been put into your creation process. Perhaps your video is a recording of a professional team meeting or presentation which some employees might not have been able to attend. Making sure that those decisions are recorded accurately can be useful when it comes time to put those decisions into action.
Or maybe your video is a work of art with careful creative choices that you would like to preserve. Imagine watching that video on mute and what people could miss out on. All of the intention put into your content from curated references, speech affectations, plot relevant sounds, and other important details should be available to your viewers. When video transcription is an afterthought, the details often come out wrong. We’ve all seen low quality subtitles that get things wrong. Sometimes it’s one of the characters names being misspelled or a music genre tag that misses the mark. Making sure that your transcription is accurate preserves the intention behind your work and creates a more enjoyable and more respectful experience for your viewers.
Types of video transcription
The most common type of video transcription is closed captioning. This is a kind of timed transcription which splits up the transcript into individual subtitles which play along with the video in real time. Subtitles can be prepared for deaf and hard of hearing viewers by marking relevant audio information. This includes plot relevant sounds like a knock on the door, a car failing to start, or a notification on a smartphone. Also in cases where someone is off screen or the speaker is unclear, including speaker tags can help people follow along with less confusion.
For transcription that is not timed there are a few different types. You can have a verbatim transcript which captures all of the speech in a video or audio recording. Or you could have what is called a “clean” verbatim transcript which edits out disfluencies like “um” “ah” and other stumbling speech that gets in the way of comprehension. Whether you choose to include all of the speech or clean it up, on many platforms you might also have the option to create an interactive transcript. Instead of people searching for a specific phrase in your transcript and then manually going to a timestamp, an interactive transcript allows people to click the text in the transcript and go to the timestamp automatically. In the classroom interactive transcripts can do even more, like have a pop-up when students click new terms that are highlighted to attract their attention.
Summary: benefits of video transcription
The people who benefit the most from transcribing their videos are people who work in education, medical or legal fields, and marketing and SEO specialists. Transcribing videos can increase student engagement, get a head start on organizing essential records, and boost SEO rankings to attract more qualified prospects. Providing captions and transcripts for videos on your website is a way of ensuring what? It ensures accessibility and inclusivity for people with disabilities as well as a better user experience for all viewers.
Want to get started transcribing videos? Amara is here to help
If you want professional captions, you can always buy them from our team of language experts. Check out that link to see all that Amara On Demand has to offer in 50+ available languages for film-quality subtitles.
If you need some serious video accessibility and localization solutions, Amara has got you covered. An Amara Team offers a private and secure workspace, flexible workflows for creating awesome subtitles, and a powerful API that seamlessly connects to your own platform. Sign up to start subtitling or order AI-powered automatic captions.
Thank you for being a part of Amara’s mission to create a more inclusive, accessible media ecosystem. Happy subtitling!