Nov 152011

Many accessibility efforts to make information more accessible to users with disabilities provide benefits to all users. Calling out these benefits can lead to a decision for accessibility in spite of the benefits provided to users with disabilities. Captions are a great example,here are a few lists outlining some of those:

Even if you are a callous jerk who doesn’t care about the 3.5% of the general population who are deaf or hard of hearing, there are other benefits commonly cited in the above lists:

  • Increased usability for everyone.
  • Education and literacy benefits.
  • Increased search engine traffic.
  • Search captioned video to find specific video segments.
  • Access to audio information in a noisy environment.
  • Helpful in learning a second language.

Those all make a lot of sense, but I wanted to find some specific examples and research to back up those assertions. Here is what I found:

Increased Usability for Everyone

I don’t have hearing loss, but I always turn on captions when they are available and apparently I’m not along. In 2006, Ofcom (the regularity authority for the UK communications industries) published a report with the following blurb on the number of people who use subtitles:

In the UK adult population as a whole, over 7.5 million people (18%) are estimated to have used subtitling at least once, of whom over 6 million people would have no hearing impairment. 39% of those with a hearing impairment say that they have used it, equating to just over 1.4 million people. Amongst case study respondents with a hearing impairment, 49% said that they used it to watch all, most or some programmes, a figure that rose to 76% for those with a severe or profound hearing loss. (Section 2.20)

Muffled audio, thick accents or whatever– captions make audio easier to understand.

See Also: The hearing majority of captioning viewers from Joe Clark

Read the rest of the article at

– Thanks to CCAC Captioning, 11/15/11.