The subtitles you can turn on at the bottom of your TV screen for people with hearing trouble are becoming more widely available on videos published on the internet and mobile phone manufacturers are starting to make their devices compatible with this handy function.
Unlike subtitles for a foreign film, closed captions can be switched on and off by the viewer and describe all the audio from a video not just the spoken works. For example if a car horn went off in a video, closed captions would display “car horn” whereas subtitles would show nothing.
Closed captions have been standard on televisions in most countries since the 80s but as more and more users turn to the internet to watch their favourite show or download the latest movie the option to show closed captions for online videos is starting to pop up more often as well.
YouTube, by far the most popular online video website, has made closed captions available to video uploaders since 2006 and have recently updated the service with voice recognition technology that automatically generates closed captions in the language of your choice for most videos.
While YouTube now has over 135 million videos that support the new voice recognition captioning, the technology is not perfect and can often misquote speakers in a video.
To ensure people who rely on closed captions have access to quality dictation, US TV shows available to watch online must now include the same quality of closed captioning that accompany them on television, under new US regulations to be rolled out over the next three years.
The new legislation also requires manufacturers of set-top boxes, PCs, smartphones, DVD players, and tablets designed to receive or play back video to be compatible with closed captions streamed over the internet by January 2014.
Some mobile manufacturers have already made their devices compatible with closed captions streamed over the internet, with 19 phone models in the GARI database now available with this software.
However with so many different media players on the web now streaming video, it will take a concerted effort from hardware manufacturers to ensure their devices are compatible.
Keep an eye on the GARI list as more devices adopt this handy feature by clicking on the 'find phones' link above. Just check the “Supports Closed Captioning for Web Video or Streaming” box under the hearing features section.