A view from behind the camera

How To Make Your Social Content More Accessible To Users With Hearing Impairments

SocialB Digital Marketing Blog Last modified: 29 Oct 2019 by Simon Badman
Other | Social Media

For a number of years, video has been seen as one of the best forms of content to communicate and engage with your social communities. Looking at the figures it’s not hard to see why with over a billion hours of video watched on YouTube daily, 100 million hours of video watched per day on Facebook and Tweets with video attracting 10 times more engagements than Tweets without video

But are your videos accessible to your entire social audience?

In the UK alone, 11 million people in are deaf or hard of hearing and with many platforms automatically playing your video without sound to all users, subtitles should be a key consideration.

There are two options for this, a form of closed caption where subtitles can be turned on or off by the viewer or having subtitles on the video itself where this option isn’t available.

So what features and functionality are currently available on social platforms and how do you use them?


YouTube is the best platform to start with, as what’s on offer has other uses outside of YouTube. More on this later.

Within it’s Creator Studio, YouTube offers the function to create Closed Caption (CC) subtitles to accompany your video or to amend automatically generated ones.

To get started upload or select your video in your channel and click on Transcriptions – it’s the 5th icon on the left-hand side.

YouTube Studio - how to access transcriptions

If there is speaking on your video, YouTube will automatically create subtitles. The technology behind this is improving all the time, but it’s still not perfect. Thankfully these can be easily edited, simply click on Published Automatic (1 in the screenshot below), or you can create these from scratch, click on ADD (2 in the screenshot):

YouTube - add language

If you choose to edit the automatically created subtitles by clicking on “published”, you’ll notice that the subtitles will probably need a lot of checking and editing. As you can see below, I’ve become “simon bad movement” and SocialB has become “social d”:

YouTube - automatic subtitle editing

Simply edit your subtitles, check where they are on the video timeline and move them / change timing to match the audio. When complete, save changes. Now your YouTube viewers will have the option of turning on or off subtitles:

YouTube - Subtitles turned on



Facebook has also got it’s act together pretty well with video subtitling. You can edit existing videos from your page’s video library, which can be accessed by the publishing tools menu.

If you’re uploading a video, it’s really straightforward. Simply click on Subtitles & Captions (CC) and select the language of the video:

Facebook - select language and subtitles

Similarly to YouTube, you can then allow Facebook to auto-create subtitles (and check and edit these) or create them from scratch as below:

Facebook editing and adding captions


Twitter…and the rest

So YouTube and Facebook are really good at creating captions. But what about Twitter?

Well, it is and it isn’t. It’s great if you’ve got access to Twitter’s Media Studio and you might already have it. If you haven’t,  access is granted by a Twitter Partner Manager. and sadly that’s all that the information that Twitter provides on this.

The other way is to hard code them on your Twitter videos. This means that your subtitles can’t be turned on or off, but they’re there for everyone. You would have to do this with other platforms such as Linkedin as well using video editing software or specialist captioning software. The University of Washington provides a useful guide to some those available for free. I haven’t tried them, so can’t recommend them at this stage. Instead, I’ve used  YouTube together with VLC media player. All you need to do is create subtitles in YouTube as per above and then download and combine the appropriate files.

The how gets a bit technical….

Effectively in YouTube created two separate files when you created your video in MP4 format and subtitles in SRT format. Both of these need to be downloaded and combined.

Firstly download your video within Creator Studio. In the videos, section click on the three dots to reveal a hidden menu. Click on download:

YouTube download

Next, download your SRT file. Go into the “View published subtitles and CC” of your video. Click on actions and then .srt, under the download list.

YouTube download SRT

To combine both files use VLC media player and follow the instructions from YouTube, simply search “hardcode subtitles vlc”.

If you’re keen to make your videos accessible to people with hearing impairments hopefully these pointers will help. If you’re already using other tools create accessible videos let us know what they are.

Lastly, check out our accompanying blog How To Make Your Social Content More Accessible To Users With Visual Impairments.

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