What Are SDH Subtitles?

If you’re a ‘Strictly’ fan then you’ll know of a new wave of awareness around the disability of deafness which has been raised by celebrity contestant Rose Ayling-Ellis, an actress currently on Eastenders that suffers from this condition. 

In a recent episode she and her partner Giovanni Pernice performed part of their ‘Couples Choice’ dance with no music creating an incredibly powerful insight into how she experiences her involvement in the show and how she uses vibration and her partner’s movements to ‘hear’ the music. 

If you missed this very emotional performance, you can watch it here: 

Through this dance, she was able to put hearing impaired people in the front of everyone’s minds. It was the highlight of the show, watched by millions and has had over 1.5 million views on YouTube. 

In May 2021 it was Deaf Awareness Week and we celebrated it by talking about SDH subtitles.  However, Rose has opened our eyes to this disability and shown us just how hard deaf people work to overcome its impact on their lives.  SDH subtitles are just one of the many ways we can help by making media accessible. 

But what are SDH subtitles? 

SDH subtitles are subtitles specifically for the deaf and hard of hearing.  

We tend to call them CLOSED CAPTIONS. Closed captions allow people who are deaf or hard of hearing to have full access to video content.  Captioning is the process of displaying timed text on a video to represent its soundtrack.  It is usually a transcription of various elements of the video including dialogue, sound effects and descriptions of music and song lyrics.  Closed captions give the viewers the option of switching the captions on or off while watching a program.  They are the most common form of captioning and can be identified by the [CC] symbol. In some cases they also colour code the wording so that it is clear which character is speaking at any given time especially since it is not always the case that the character speaking will be visible on screen. 

When using closed captions, the assumption is that the viewer cannot hear the audio at all so being able to read the SFX that are happening and the music that might be being played allows them the opportunity to enjoy what they’re watching in the same way as someone who is able to hear. 

SDH subtitles can also be translated to localise content for foreign markets to widen accessibility even further. 

OPEN CAPTIONS which are generally referred to as subtitles assume the viewer can hear the audio but doesn’t know the spoken language.  They are also increasingly widely used for people watching media with the volume turned down whilst on trains or buses etc.  These are burned into the video and are seen by anyone who watches the video because they are permanent and cannot be turned on or off.  They are mostly used for platforms that don’t have the appropriate functionality for closed captions. 

So why should your video have SDH subtitles? 

It is important that we do not exclude people with disabilities from mainstream activities.  Making your videos available for the deaf and hard of hearing community will definitely increase your reach as well as your viewership.  


If you enjoyed reading this and would like to receive our monthly newsletter, then sign up now.

Please follow and like us:
Pin Share