A Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing Guide to TikTok and Video Captioning

A Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing Guide to TikTok and Video Captioning

It’s hard to imagine a time where video wasn’t commonplace. Video has revolutionized much of what social media has become. They are quick, engaging, often entertaining ways for people to get information or a good laugh. Yet, despite the amount of bonding and information delivery these videos can provide, they aren’t always made immediately accessible for those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.

More than 5% of the world’s population (430 million people) require some form of assistance for their hearing. While features like closed captioning have long been used in broadcast television, the internet has had less oversight on this important component. Once TikTok burst onto the scene between 2019-20, it set a new standard: captions should be everywhere.

Today, you’ll find most online videos, whether it’s TikTok, Facebook or YouTube, offering the option for captioning. They’ve taught the public that not only is captioning necessary, but it can also be a fun and inclusive resource for content creation, as well.

The Evolution of Access

On February 14, 2005, the world saw the launch of one of its most popular and revolutionary social media platforms – YouTube. A space for individuals to express themselves creatively, online for all to see.

It wasn’t until late 2009 when Google (YouTube’s parent company) integrated auto-captioning for certain videos. Since 2010, every creator can auto-generate captions for their videos. According to Google, in the 2020s, more than 60 million videos have been auto-captioned.

Despite having this capability, captioning was sparingly encouraged or pushed as a necessity for viewers. That is, until TikTok came onto the scene. Off the bat, the platform organically put great emphasis on captioning for users.

TikTok not only pushed the need for captioning but also how it can be applied. Many users in the TikTok community have embraced captioning by adding overlays or using third-party tools in their videos.

Clever Captioning

The growing popularity of closed captioning has inspired other platforms like Instagram and Facebook and even companies like Apple to push for it. In 2016, the creator of the iPhone even built in a Braille capability on its products.

There are four effective ways to integrate captions on TikTok videos:

  • Use TikTok’s Automated Captions – The easiest way to apply captions is through the app itself. Once you record your video, press “V” next to the screen and tap the “Captions” button. Creators are allowed to auto-generate captions and even edit the text before publishing to correct any mistakes.
  • Auto-Caption Apps – If you want something more custom than what the app offers, there are other apps that’ll help you stand out from the crowd such as MixCaptions, Kaptioned and Veme.ly.
  • Online Video Editors – You could even upload your video to websites like Veed.io, which is home to several editing tools (text, subtitles, emojis, annotations, auto captions, etc.), if you wish to use something more advanced.
  • Add Text Manually – Simpler than using TikTok’s auto-cap feature, you can insert the text yourself. However, this method can take more time depending on how much and what information you add.

Influencers and creators have stated that the inclusion of captions and subtitles has proven to create a better experience for all users in several ways:

  • Being able to watch videos without sound so as not to disturb those nearby
  • Translating videos in different languages
  • Text-to-speech that creates easier understanding of the subject matter

Creating Accessible Content

Making content accessible isn’t just important to particular groups. it’s the name of the game for all users. The more quickly and effectively people can understand your content, the more impactful you, and whatever message you’re trying to convey, will be. With numerous ways to create and caption, there are no limits to how to get your message across. The only question that remains is, which tools will you use?

Found in: Lifestyle