The use of captions when watching content was originally designed to help those with hearing loss understand what is being said. This can give someone more confidence knowing that they can participate in more group listening activities. It just so happens that they are not the only ones that enjoys captions.
More and more, people with normal hearing are enjoying captioning as well. With the way people are watching more on-the-go content and in shared spaces, most of the caption users have no hearing issues. Many even use captions because they like to watch the video with the sound off.
Captioned videos reach a larger audience because they make watching possible in a wider variety of settings. Captions also make it easier to understand complicated or confusing content and improve intelligibility if the speaker has a strong accent.
This has allowed more companies to make captioning more of a priority than before. For example, Verizon Media which owns Yahoo!, AOL, and Huffington Post, now boasts 100% captioning of their original content as well as eight hours of live financial news each weekday on Yahoo! Finance.
Google is launching a speech to text app for people with hearing loss. Microsoft recently added auto-captioning to Skype and now with the inclusion of over-the-counter hearing aids, the list of companies focused on providing hearing loss solutions will only grow.
A smartphone app called Tunity, lets you listen to a current TV broadcast on your smartphone was designed for use by people to hear the TV audio in loud bars, but it also works well for people with hearing loss.
Having poorly synced captions are often worse than no captions at all, due to the disconnect between what we hear, the lip movements and what we are reading creates more confusion than assistance.
Involving the hearing loss community in these efforts is key to creating solutions that work well for people with hearing loss, as well as a mainstream audience.