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Captioning Key - Elements of Quality Captioning

Quality Captioning

  1. A Definition of Captioning
  2. The DCMP Captioning Philosophy
  3. Elements of Quality Captioning

A Definition of Captioning

Captioning is the key to opening up a world of information for persons with hearing loss or literacy needs. There are more than 30 million Americans with some type of hearing loss. Millions of others are illiterate, learning to read, or use English as a second language.

Captioning is the process of converting the audio content of a television broadcast, webcast, film, video, CD-ROM, DVD, live event, or other production into text and displaying the text on a screen or monitor. Captions not only display words as the textual equivalent of spoken dialogue or narration, but they also include speaker identification, sound effects, and music description. Captioning is critical for students who are deaf or hard of hearing, but it also aids the reading and literacy skills development of many others.

It is important that the captions are (1) synchronized and appear at approximately the same time as the audio is delivered, (2) equivalent and equal in content to that of the audio, including speaker identification and sound effects; and (3) accessible and readily available to those who need or want them.

The DCMP Captioning Philosophy

The DCMP believes that all captioning should include as much of the original language as possible; words or phrases which may be unfamiliar to the audience should not be replaced with simple synonyms. However, editing the original transcription may be necessary to provide time for the caption to be completely read and for it to be in synchronization with the audio.

Elements of Quality Captioning


Errorless captions are the goal for each production.


Uniformity in style and presentation of all captioning features is crucial for viewer understanding.


A complete textual representation of the audio, including speaker identification and non-speech information, provides clarity.


Captions are displayed with enough time to be read completely, are in synchronization with the audio, and are not obscured by (nor do they obscure) the visual content.


Equal access requires that the meaning and intention of the material is completely preserved.


The above guidelines are consistent with the 2014 mandates by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

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