VoiceBox, Part of Wolfestone Group

More subtitles please!

At the beginning of June a campaign Subtitle it! was launched by the British Charity Organisation Action on Hearing Loss. The charity’s campaign is calling on the Government to introduce legislation to ensure all video on-demand (VOD) companies provide subtitles for the hard of hearing. Many catch up programmes or video on demand services do not have subtitles, even if the programmes were subtitled when they were originally broadcast. It is estimated that 80% of video on-demand television shows have no subtitles, leaving those with hearing impairments feeling excluded. “New technologies mean people now have a greater choice of programmes to watch, but not if you have a hearing loss” says Paul Brecknell, CEO of Action on Hearing Loss.

Some facts about hearing loss

  • There are more than 10 million people in the UK with some form of hearing loss, or one in six of the population.
  • More than 800,000 people in the UK are severely or profoundly deaf.
  • About two million people in the UK have hearing aids, but only 1.4 million use them regularly.

Subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing

Subtitles for the deaf or hard of hearing

‘Subtitling for the deaf and hard of hearing’ can also be referred to as the American term ‘SDH.’ It differs to ‘normal’ subtitling/captions as SDH include non-dialogue sound effects and has non-verbal cues added in to it such as speaker identification so that the viewer can see who is speaking when it may not be obvious on screen. To add subtitles to your video, having a professional agency help is vital. You need someone who understands the technical aspects of the job such as time-coding, time syncing, text alignment and text contraction.

Emerging technologies

It’s not just the UK that want more advancements. Developments are also being made in the US.  A new app for Google Glass has recently been created by the Georgia Institute of Technology. This app has speech to text software which aims to help hard of hearing users. While you wear the glasses, a second person speaks directly into a smartphone. The speech is converted to text which is displayed on the heads-up display on the glasses.

It doesn’t end there. Because of growing awareness and demand, products helping those with hearing impairments are being developed by other major companies such as Samsung and Microsoft who are also developing their own forms of smart glass. The future is looking bright and hopefully those with any form of disabilities will have the opportunities to have the same quality of life as everyone else.