More Than Just for TV Shows

As many businesses attempt to establish new normal office protocols, working from home with its attendant video conferencing is becoming more and more popular. What is probably not nearly as typical is the captioning of the video conference, although it should be.

Captions started out with broadcast television but have since moved to many other arenas where video is used. Now, captioning can be found in classrooms and online learning, on business conference calls, meetings, training sessions, and webcasts, as well as internet videos viewed for pleasure.

Part of the reason for the increased presence of captioning is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a law passed in 1990, that covers all these areas of video distribution. According to a recent report called A Guide to Corporate Captions, produced by VITAC, one of the largest captioning companies in the US, one in five Americans has a hearing loss. Nearly 25% of people age 65 to 74, and 50% of those 75 or older, have disabling hearing loss. And there are more than 2 million veterans with hearing loss from a service-related injury. Even children are affected, with up to 3 out of every 1000 children born with a detectable level of hearing loss in one or both ears.

With nearly 50 million Americans in the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, ADA-related lawsuits are growing significantly over the past few years. In 2013, there were 2,722 lawsuits related to Title III of the ADA, which requires businesses open to the public to ensure that individuals with a disability have equal access to all the businesses have to offer. In 2019, that number had grown to 11,053. Some significant recent cases included the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard over school websites and online videos, Domino’s website, and Wal-Mart Stores East, LP, for lack of closed-captioned training videos and sign language interpreters for employees. And with fines ranging from $10,000 to $100,000, with the average settlement around $15,000, this is something that should give every business open to the public pause to think about their online presence and other corporate uses of video.

On the positive side of the issue of corporate captioning, there are many benefits to complying with the laws other than just avoiding a fine. Adding captions to your online corporate videos can boost your search engine optimization (SEO) ranking. By captioning a live event, it is much easier to create a transcript for later reference if someone missed the meeting or seminar. One newspaper that was cited in the report takes advantage of captioning for press conferences and government meetings to make sure they have accurate quotes in their articles. Transcripts can also be used to pull out quotes for marketing efforts, like social media posts. And for employees for whom English is not a primary language, transcripts can benefit them with an aid to understanding. And now, with many global business ventures, seeing transcripts in the native language of each conference participant can be a huge benefit to better communications.

Whatever your feeling is about captions, they are now very much a part of our world. The law requires it. But captioning has so many additional benefits that it is worth the initial expenditure and change in business practices to make it part of your corporate culture. Now is the time to consider adding captioning to your company’s videos.

Let Infinity Concepts help you with all your captioning needs. CLICK HERE or call us today at 724-733-1200.

Paul McDonald
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