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What are SDH Subtitles? How to Boost Reach and Accessibility with Modern Subtitles

How do SDH subtitles differ from traditional subtitles and closed captions? And how can they help you reach a larger audience? Read on to find out.

Subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, known as SDH subtitles, offer a richer and more enjoyable experience to hearing-impaired viewers and viewers watching without sound.

These modern subtitles were developed for the digital age to be superior to closed captions and standard subs. They transcribe dialogue, sound effects, music and more, enabling non-hearing audiences to enjoy video content just as much as those who can hear.

What are SDH Subtitles?

SDH stand for "Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard-of-hearing." These subtitles were created to ensure that deaf viewers and those with hearing impairments could enjoy the full experience of a film, TV show or social media video.

Unlike standard subtitles that only transcribe dialogue, SDH subtitles transcribe additional audio such as laughter, footsteps, music or even the nuances of a sigh. SDH subtitles are often timed to match the sound and dialogue in a scene, mimicking the dramatic timing of the speaker or capturing the thrill of a clap of thunder.

This detailed transcription allows the audience to feel the ambiance and emotional undertones of a scene. Overall, it creates a better viewing experience for the audience, and it allows studios and brands to maximize the impact of their content.

SDH Subtitles vs. Standard Subtitles vs. Closed Captions

Is it worth choosing SDH subtitles over standard subtitles or closed captions? Here are the differences and use cases of each.

Standard subtitles: The purpose of standard subtitles is to translate dialogue for viewers who don’t speak a video’s original language. They’re also helpful to viewers who understand the video's language but may not be proficient enough to catch every word.

These are especially common in international films, though today, a growing number of viewers prefer to watch content with subtitles in their native language. If you need to translate your video content, subtitles are an affordable and effective option.

But they’re not intended for deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences.

Closed captions (CC): Closed captions are designed for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, but they are coded differently than SDH subtitles.

CC are commonly used on TV. In fact, most televised content is required to have closed captions.

Modern digital connections, like DVD, HDMI, and OTT services like Netflix, support SDH subtitles and not CC.

Closed captions are also not as enjoyable for hearing-impaired audiences. They include dialogue and some additional auditory details, but they might not capture every nuance or ambient sound crucial for the overall experience.

Unlike subtitles and SDH subs, closed captions are not often confined to the lower or top portion of the screen, so they can cover a significant part of the picture.

SDH subtitles: SDH subtitles bridge the gap between traditional subs and CC, offering a richer, more inclusive viewing experience.

They can be enjoyed by the deaf and hard of hearing as well as by those who don’t speak the original language of the content. They also bridge a technological gap between standard broadcast media and modern digital media.

If you intend your content to be viewed online or on a digital platform, whether it's a YouTube video, an ad or a feature film, SDH subtitles provide audiences with the best possible viewing experience.

Why Choose SDH Subtitles?

There are a number of reasons to choose SDH subtitles that go beyond accessibility.

Better Content

The best reason to choose SDH subtitles is that they improve the quality of your content. Better content means higher engagement, more views and increased ROI.

By ensuring that every sound, spoken word and emotional nuance is captured, you're providing a richer viewing experience.

If you want your content to be seen in its best light by the largest possible audience, SDH subtitles are recommended.

Improve SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a crucial part of getting your content in front of viewers.

By using SDH subtitles, you're increasing the text content associated with your video. This can be indexed by search engines, making it more likely for your video to rank higher in search results.

Google is also a huge fan of accessibility, and research has shown that fully compliant websites and content tend to rank higher in the search results pages.

Expand Your Reach

An increasing number of viewers, even those without hearing impairments, prefer watching videos without sound.

This is especially common when scrolling through social media in public.

About 70% of viewers prefer to watch videos without sound in public and 25% watch without sound in private.

SDH subtitles can provide these viewers with a much more engaging experience, which can significantly boost viewer retention rates.

Reach New Audiences with SDH Subtitles and Wolfestone Group

Integrating SDH subtitles into your content has profound implications for reach and inclusivity—but only if they are transcribed properly. It’s critical to work with a team of experienced transcribers to properly convey the tone and message of your videos.

Wolfestone Group has offered SDH subtitling services for nearly two decades, and our SDH transcription team is one of the most experienced in the industry. We are a comprehensive linguistic services provider for businesses, so you can also count on us for translations, voiceovers, closed captions, multilingual SEO and much more.

There’s a reason that brands like Google, HSBC and Bentey trust Wolfestone Group with their linguistic needs.

To learn more about how SDH subtitles can improve the inclusivity and reach of your content, contact Wolfestone Group today.

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