The Benefits of Closed Captioning for Diverse Learners

Closed captioning serves as a powerful tool that extends its impact far beyond aiding the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. Its significance transcends age, abilities, and background, making it an invaluable resource for both educators and learners. In the digital age, closed captioning has emerged as a transformative resource, with research revealing that students, English language learners, and children with learning disabilities who watch programs with closed captioning turned on improve their reading skills, increase their vocabulary, and enhance their focus and attention.

The scholarly article, Closed Captioning Matters: Examining the Value of Closed Captions for All Students (Smith 231) states that “Previous research shows that closed captioning can benefit many kinds of learners. In addition to students with hearing impairments, captions stand to benefit visual learners, non-native English learners, and students who happen to be in loud or otherwise distracting environments. In remedial reading classes, closed captioning improved students’ vocabulary, reading comprehension, word analysis skills, and motivation to learn (Goldman & Goldman, 1988). The performance of foreign language learners increased when captioning was provided (Winke, Gass, & Sydorenko, 2010). Following exams, these learners indicated that captions lead to increased attention, improved language processing, the reinforcement of previous knowledge, and deeper understanding of the language. For low-performing students in science classrooms, technology-enhanced videos with closed captioning contributed to post-treatment scores that were similar to higher-performing students (Marino, Coyne, & Dunn, 2010). The current findings support previous research and highlight the suitability of closed-captioned content for students with and without disabilities.”

Reading Rockets, a national public media literacy initiative provides resources and information on how young children learn and how educators can improve their students’ reading abilities. In the article, Captioning to Support Literacy, Alise Brann confirms that “Captions can provide struggling readers with additional print exposure, improving foundational reading skills.”

She states, “In a typical classroom, a teacher may find many students who are struggling readers, whether they are beginning readers, students with language-based learning disabilities, or English Language Learners (ELLs). One motivating, engaging, and inexpensive way to help build the foundational reading skills of students is through the use of closed-captioned and subtitled television shows and movies. These can help boost foundational reading skills, such as phonics, word recognition, and fluency, for a number of students.”

Research clearly demonstrates that “people learn better and comprehend more when words and pictures are presented together. The combination of aural and visual input gives viewers the opportunity to comprehend information through different channels and make connections between them” (The Effects of Captions on EFL Learners’ Comprehension of English-Language Television Programs).

From bolstering reading skills, to enhancing focus and language comprehension, the benefits of closed captioning are numerous. We at Aberdeen Broadcast Services are committed to providing quality closed captions for television (TV) and educational programming.

Here is the public service announcement (PSA) we released in 2016 on local broadcast stations, emphasizing how closed captioning can enhance children's literacy skills.