Closed captions are a feature that allows individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to access and understand the content of a media file fully. They provide a written representation of the audio within a video, which can be used as a supplement or substitute for the audio itself. This allows individuals who are unable to hear the audio to understand still and follow along with the video.

The text within a closed caption file typically includes dialogue from characters and a narrator but also includes non-speech elements such as speaker IDs and sound effects. These non-speech elements are critical for understanding the plot of the video and providing context for the dialogue. For example, a closed caption might include the notation “Sound of car honking” to indicate that a car honking sound is happening in the background of a scene.

With the increasing popularity of video content, closed captions have become an important aspect of accessibility and inclusivity for people with hearing impairments.

Are Closed Captions the Same as Subtitles?

It is understandable to confuse closed captions with subtitles, but they are not the same. Although they are both written representations of the audio within a media file, the key difference between them is their viewers.

Subtitles are also referred to as translations. They are mostly used for foreign films or TV series in order to understand the film and TV series. Subtitles represent all the dialogue, translated into English, without any sound effects, in certain media. It is intended for viewers who can hear audio but cannot understand the language.

They are typically time-synchronized with media, but they do not include non-speech elements, as it is intended for viewers who are not part of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community.

Closed captions are a type of subtitle designed for deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences. They provide written text that communicates all audio information, including sound effects, speaker IDs, and non-speech elements. They are written in the source language of the video and usually appear at the bottom of the screen. They were introduced to make video programming accessible to everyone and to ensure that people with hearing disabilities are not excluded from the media consumption experience

Closed captions were first developed in the 1970s and are now used by most video programming in the United States in compliance with United States Accessibility Laws such as FCC Closed Captioning Regulations and the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA).

Closed captions can be turned on and off with the help of the CC icon, which is usually located in the video player or on the television remote. They can also be customized to suit individual needs, such as changing the font size, color, and background. This feature allows for greater accessibility and an improved viewing experience for users. Furthermore, closed captions are becoming increasingly important as more and more people consume video content online, either through streaming services or social media platforms. With the rise of online video, closed captions have become a necessary tool for ensuring that everyone can access the same information and enjoy the same media.

What are Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (SDH)

Subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing (SDH) is a type of subtitle that combines the information of both captions and subtitles. They can be in the source language of the video, as they include important non-dialogue audio like sound effects and speaker identification.

Unlike regular subtitles that are intended for viewers who can hear the audio but do not understand the language spoken in the film or TV series, SDH subtitles are intended for viewers who cannot hear the audio. They match closed captions on media that do not support closed captions, such as digital connections like HDMI.

SDH subtitles can also be translated into foreign languages to make content accessible to deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals who understand other languages. They provide a comprehensive solution for making video content accessible to a wider audience, including those with hearing disabilities.

SDH vs. Closed Captions: What’s the Difference?

In essence, Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (SDH) and Closed captions are similar in the following ways:

  • They are both synced with the film or TV series.
  • The audience are able to turn them on/off
  • They both include speaker identification
  • They both include sound effects
  • They are both in the source language of the film or TV series

SDH and Closed captions differ in the following ways:

  • Closed Captions are usually shown in white text on a black background, whereas SDH varies depending on the preference of the audience.
  • Screen Placement. Closed Caption placements vary, whereas SDH is usually placed in the center and lower bottom third of the screen.


Subtitles and closed captions are not only important for people with hearing impairments, but they also serve a wider audience. For example, subtitles can help non-native speakers understand the dialogue in a film or TV series, and closed captions can be helpful in loud or quiet environments where the audio may be difficult to hear. SDH subtitles, or subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing, provide additional information,, such as sound effects and speaker identification to make the content more accessible for people with hearing impairments.

It’s important for filmmakers, production companies, and distributors to consider accessibility when creating and distributing their content. This may involve working with transcription and captioning services to ensure that the subtitles and closed captions are accurate and easy to read. Daily Transcription is a company that provides high-quality and affordable closed captioning and subtitling services. Our closed captions are accurately transcribed, carefully timed, and error-free. Also, will never cover over on-screen graphics (chryons), regardless of caption style.

To have closed captioning and subtitles added to your film or TV project, reach out to Daily Transcription and we’ll be happy to assist you.