Confiding in Your Closed-Captioning Company

So, you've contracted with a closed-captioning company (or closed-captioner service provider) and now you must put your full confidence in them to caption your program accurately. With the plethora of closed captioning companies out there, this is not always an easy thing to do. Keep in mind that a large percentage of viewers will watch your program with captions, therefore turning the captions into a representation of your programming.

To confide in your captioning company, you first need to understand how captioning works. Captioning has its own standard just like journalism or publishing does. Be sure you understand exactly what service you will be getting. If your program will be captioned in roll-up style, many of the captioning "rules" do not apply as it is a simplified version of pop-on captioning. If the captioning company has a standard, be sure to ask what it is.

When you watch captions, you might wonder why certain punctuation is being used that is normally not used in other writing.

Here are some examples:

  • Double dashes are used for breaks in speech.
  • Ellipses are used for directing viewers to the screen and for long pauses in speech to add to the effect.

You may often wonder why poor grammar is being captioned. Usually, captioning companies do not correct grammar in speech. The hard of hearing and deaf community should read the exact same thing as the hearing people hear. In other words, they get relayed the same message. For example, in a movie where the main character speaks with broken English, should not be changed as it is part of the actor's character. Correcting grammar can change the meaning to the closed-caption viewer.

If you are still uneasy about giving over your captions to a captioning company, know that you can always have the option of proofing the closed caption transcript before the final recording. Your closed-captioning company should give the captions three quality checks, but even so, a book for publishing gets many more reviews for publishing and still winds up with errors. Be careful when proofing the transcript that you do not make preference changes, as the captioning company may end up charging you for extra time spent.

Your closed-captioning company should be experts in their field, so remember that you are working with them to make captioning judgment calls and decisions for your programs.