I never thought marketing insights would be helping to drive accessibility on the web for those of us with hearing loss, but when I skipped down to the “Optimize based on format” header of this article by Social Media Week, I paused.
“People are viewing Facebook native with their sound off, so you have to think like Charlie Chaplin and start putting things with captions. Your production team can’t write your captions, it has to be your writing team.”
Yes, you read that right. “People are viewing Facebook native with their sound off…start putting things with captions”
For those of us with hearing loss, let’s all say a quick thank you to the marketing data world and Charlie Chaplin. (Not sure who Charlie Chaplin is? Remember those silent, black and white films with text on the bottom of the screen? He’s (a) the guy who made them and (b) the one we all recognize with the strange, tiny mustache.)
Why should I care about Facebook video captions?
A lot of us may already use captions at home with DVDs, so why should we care about captions on Facebook? A few reasons.
First off, the fact that more people are watching video without sounds means captions are no longer a second thought but a necessary element for brands to be successful. That means we will no longer worry about missing things in a fun video because the captions are missing. Nor will we be required to leave Facebook and head to YouTube where jumbled and incorrect captions jitter inconsistently across the screen.
Secondly, as captions become second nature for marketers using media, it opens the doors for other places to want to include captions – places like movie theaters we miss going to. Because face it, even with great hearing aids, movies are packed with explosions, loud ambient noise, background music and characters who obscure their lips during conversations. Without captions, we still can’t fully understand what’s happening. We can hear it happen, most likely, but knowing who said what, or properly discerning “this” from “hiss” is still a challenge.
And I don’t know about you, but I can name one theater in my hometown (Dallas, TX) with showings with captions on the screen. Not in a cup holder or on glasses that may or may not work half the time. Movies with captions on the screen during the entire showing. And yet, the theater closed this year, so now I just skip movies when I go home. Because why waste $10 on a ticket when I’ll miss understand half the story anyways.
Back to the point. The third reason we should care about Facebook video captions is that as more brands utilize captions, whether or not their audience has hearing loss or not, they help further dismantle the stigma around hearing loss and hearing aids. Hearing loss is extremely common today, but some may not even realize they are having issues. Captions will open their eyes to how much they are already missing in movies, helping to increase awareness for hearing loss and also to eliminate the historical stigma that has surrounded it. Friends and loved ones who use captions when they watch TV with me even admit after a time that they didn’t realize how much they were actually missing without the captions. Some will even admit that a movie is “easier” or “more enjoyable” to watch.
Facebook marketing data just gave us a nice win here my fellow hearing-loss friends. Let’s help them by continuing to advocate for captions and accessibility in other places we love too!