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14 Jul 2021   Last updated 26 July 2021

Research: The impact of the quality of subtitling on accessibility

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Research: The impact of the quality of subtitling on accessibility

Conclusions based on a survey conducted by Amberscript among members of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community in the Netherlands.

Amberscript’s transcription and subtitling solutions are used by hundreds of thousands of people across Europe to facilitate the creation of high-quality transcriptions and captions.

With this survey, Amberscript has surveyed the deaf and hard of hearing community to assess the impact that the quality of the subtitles has on the understanding of content for the deaf and hard of hearing community, to be able to share feedback and recommendations on accessibility options available. More than looking at the WCAG guidelines, Amberscript wanted to assess what makes the content understandable to the deaf and hard of hearing.

Amberscript’s previous survey on Digital accessibility:

For its last report, Amberscript surveyed students from 175 universities across different European countries in order to get first-hand insights into the degree to which universities and other higher-education institutions are becoming more accessible.

After diagnosing the lack of subtitles on videos provided by higher education institutions in Europe, the next step was to understand how the quality of the subtitles provided affects the understanding of the video content by the deaf and hard of hearing community.

About the research

Between March and April of 2021, Amberscript surveyed 24 members of the deaf and hard of hearing community within the Netherlands, with different levels of disability

The research was sponsored by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Internal Affair of the Netherlands and consisted of 73 questions. To be able to answer the question on the quality of subtitling options, participants watched different versions of the same lecture from the University of Wageningen. The subtitling provider was not informed to the viewers to avoid biased responses.

The additional questions related to the overall captions technology and the usage of a sign language interpreter for Sign Language in Education.

Key Findings

  1. Subtitles need to be of a certain quality to ensure the content is accessible
  2. With automatic subtitles, the content is only partially understandable
  3. Human edits and subtitle formatting are needed for all respondents to understand the content well
  4. There is a need for flexibility when providing accessibility solutions

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