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What is the difference between closed captions (CC) subtitles and SDH?

What is the difference between closed captions (CC) subtitles and SDH?

Once you know what are subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing, closed captions and subtitles for viewers, it’s easy to understand their differences.

Closed captioning and subtitles are both terms that are used to refer to the broadcast of speech and sound in text format, referring to an audio presentation. As for SDH, they were designed to help individuals with hearing impairments understand what is taking place in a video.

The most important part about closed captions and SDH is that they are designed to help the audience understand what is happening in a well-defined video sequence. It can be a documentary, a song, a film, and so forth.

So, as closed captioning, subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing, and subtitles play a significant role for a lot of people. We will see each of them: their differences, their importance, their role and their advantages.

What are subtitles?

Subtitles are presentations added to a DVD or video. Indeed, these subtitles will appear as texts on the screen. In the case of subtitles, transcription of a program’s script is not required. Subtitles will only display dialogues on the screen.

Indeed, subtitles were created for people who have difficulty understanding the language in which an audio video is made. Therefore, subtitles are intended only to translate the presentation. Their main goal is to help people understand what is being said in a video in their own language. It’s just a simple translation.

Originally, subtitles were addressed to individuals who could hear and did not suffer from hearing impairment, but also to those who did not understand the presentation’s language. Subtitles can also be used to support personal videos.

However, not all subtitles are text’s translations. Obviously, one who does not understand French can follow a program in his or her mother tongue. In order to do so, one just has to select subtitles in his mother tongue. However, it should be noted that many individuals use subtitles to understand the language they speak, but do not master the different accents.

We can take the example of an individual who grew up learning and listening to American English. At first, the British accent can be very difficult to understand. He can therefore opt for the use of subtitles until he becomes familiar with the accent.

What are closed captions?

Closed captions are subtitles that are broadcast through a medium emitting sound or through a decoder integrated into the TV. Media such as computers or television are used when decoding closed captions. Generally, the script of a program is transcribed for closed captioning.

Closed captioning is made to help the hearing impaired. It makes it easy for people with hearing problems to understand what is being said and what is happening in an audio file.

In addition to the dialogues, all the sounds that can be heard in a video are transcribed into text that will be displayed on the screen.

We can take a movie as an example. In this film, “in a particular scene, a man is looking for an individual. All of a sudden, he hears music and begins to follow it.” Individuals who have no hearing impairments will know directly that this man is looking for the source of the music. However, someone who has a hearing impairment will not know this. That is why closed captioning plays an important role. Thanks to this type of subtitles, the music can be transcribed on the screen. Thus, any person experiencing hearing problems will know that the man in question is moving away because of the music.

Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing: What is SDH?

SDH subtitles combine all the information that is provided by closed captions and subtitles.

SDH plays an important role in the audio context. Indeed, SDH was designed to make audio and video content more accessible to the public. To do this, foreign languages are translated into the native language of the viewer and all closed captions present are also displayed.

What are the differences between subtitles, closed captions and SDHs in terms of functionality?

Although “subtitles” and “closed captions” are terms often used interchangeably, it is possible to make the distinction between the two. What are their characteristics and what is the difference between SDH, closed captioning and subtitles?


Usually displayed at the bottom of the screen, subtitles are texts derived from a dialogue or a transcription or comments in video games, television programs, films…

Typically, translated subtitles are used when the original audio language is different from the viewer’s native language.

Closed captioning

On the other hand, closed captioning provides a written form of both the dialogue, sounds, soundtracks and sound effects that are part of the described scene.

Typically, closed captions are written in the language used in the audio of the video. We can cite Netflix as an example:
When you activate them, the subtitles you will see will be closed captions.
Broadly, subtitles are intended for individuals who have no auditory problems, but who wish to see a written version of the dialogue. Closed captioning is intended for those who cannot hear or have hearing difficulties. These individuals will then need a complete written description of the audio.

Subtitles for the hearing impaired or deaf, SDH

Subtitles for the deaf or hard of hearing or SDH combine both closed captioning and subtitles information. Normal subtitles assume that the audience is not familiar with the spoken language, but has no difficulty hearing the audio. SDH, on the other hand, considers that the public cannot or does not have the necessary faculties to hear the audio

In this case, SDH acts as an emulator that will generate subtitles on media that do not support them, including digital connections such as HDMI. Subtitles for the deaf or hard of hearing can also be translated into other languages. It allows deaf and hard of hearing people who speak foreign languages to access the content.

What are the differences between subtitles, closed captions and SDH in their on-screen placement?

Subtitles, closed captions and SDH differ in terms of placement on the screen.


Usually displayed at the bottom of the screen, subtitles are texts derived from a dialogue or a transcription or comments in video games, television programs, films…

Closed Captions

Typically, closed captions are aligned across multiple parts of the screen. Indeed, it allows overlapping several conversations and identifying the speaker easily while avoiding any interference with the images displayed on the screen.

Subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing or SDH

Normally, subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing or SDH are centered and locked at the bottom third of the screens.

What are the differences between closed captions and SDH in terms of appearance?

In addition to their locations and features, closed captions, closed captions and SDHs differ in appearance.


Subtitles are displayed as white text. Sometimes, it is possible to customize the style of the text. Indeed, the size, color and font can be changed.

Closed Captions

Closed captions are displayed as white text scrolling on a black band. In some cases, it is possible to choose the size, color, and font of the text.

Subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing or SDH

Subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing or SDH are displayed with the same proportion of font.

Why is it important to create subtitles?

There are several reasons to generate subtitles for your videos.

On social media, your content will be seen by a wider public.

According to studies, users usually watch Facebook videos with muted sound. Thus, adding subtitles to videos will allow users to understand the message you want to convey, even without sound.

It should also be noted that certain circumstances will not allow Internet users to watch their videos with the sound: when they forget their headphones, for example, while they are on the bus, in a waiting room…

p.In general, subtitles values lie in the comfort they can bring to the spectators.

Reach a wider audience

According to figures cited by experts, more than 400 million people worldwide have a partial hearing disability or are deaf. As a result, they may have difficulty or cannot consume audio content at all. By choosing to create subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing, you can be sure that your messages will be sent to all your customers, without excluding the disabled. Indeed, it is worth noting that improving the accessibility of your video content can help you reach a wider audience.

Improve your SEO ranking

It is worth noting that search engines do not include hardware analysis of your videos. Indeed, when you download videos, only the description and the title are included in the keyword searches.

By adding subtitles or text transcripts to your content, search engines like Google will have more data to exploit. This helps attract more traffic to your video content.

Attract more foreign viewers to view your content

When the transcription of your content is ready, translation into several foreign languages is simpler. It should also be noted that having subtitles, closed captions or subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing in numerous languages is the best way to make the content more accessible and expand its geographical scope.

Make listening easier for viewers sensitive to specific sound frequencies

An audience may be receptive to certain sound frequencies in sound-sensitive environments. Indeed, this audience can pick up some sounds that are normally inaudible to most individuals..

The main disadvantage of this sensitivity to certain sound frequencies is the high intensity at which they are perceived and processed by the brain

Indeed, individuals who suffer from sound sensitivities often experience discomfort when they listen to many frequencies and sounds.

To deal with this problem, a subtitle option for the deaf and hard of hearing is recommended when the audio becomes more complex to analyze for the viewers.