SDH subtitles: Meaning, differences, and benefits

Are you familiar with SDH subtitles? Although they were specially designed for deaf or hearing-impaired people, nowadays, they are a popular option in video platforms.

In this post, we tell you what they consist of, their characteristics, differences with other subtitles and their benefits for all audiences.

We will also show you examples of SDH in videos**.

What are SDH subtitles?

SDH (Subtitles for Deaf or hard-of-hearing) subtitles emerged in the 1970s and is a legal requirement for most video programming in the U.S. and Canada.

They refer to a type of subtitles designed to meet the needs of viewers who do not hear or are hard of hearing.

sdh subtiltes what is

These subtitles, in addition to presenting dialogues in written form, provide information on all the audio of a video as follows:

  • Speaker identification: names or symbols are used to identify the characters so that the viewer can know who said what and when they said it.
  • Sound effects: identify the sounds present in the plot of the video, such as doors closing, dogs barking, telephones ringing and many more.
  • Music: the lyrics and musical descriptors of the production's soundtrack are written.

The significance of SDH subtitles for deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers is accessibility and inclusion to content, and they can be translated into foreign languages.

SDH subtitles examples

Benefits of using SDH subtitles

Thanks to SDH captioning, people with hearing loss in the U.S. can access and understand the content, but other audiences also benefit:

  • Viewers who watch without sound: for years, there has been a trend to watch videos on mobile but in silence, which has spread to other content channels.
  • People with other native languages can read the text while listening to it, making it easier to understand and learn languages.
  • Children are learning to read: subtitles help with word recognition, development of spelling skills, listening comprehension and the acquisition and development of vocabulary.

sdh subtitles

SDH vs CC (Closed captions)

SDH subtitles and Closed Captions (CC) are related and quite similar. However, they differ in several aspects:

  • Target: SDH targets people who cannot hear the audio and require a text description of the sounds; CC targets people who can listen to the audio but need it in written form.
  • Appearance: SDH have flexibility but, in general, is displayed in the same proportional font as the translated subtitles; CC is displayed as white text on a black band.
    Increasingly there are options for the viewer to change the font, colour and size of the text, which can modify the differences in appearance between the two.
  • Location: in theory, SDH can be placed anywhere on the screen; it is often centred and locked at the bottom; CCs can be aligned in different parts of the screen.
  • Encoding: SDH are encoded as bitmap images; they are a set of pixels or tiny dots; this transmission method is more compatible with new digital media. Standard 608 CC are transmitted over Line 21 as a stream of commands, control codes and text. As for 708 CC are transmitted as MPEG-2 video streams in MPEG user data.
  • Translation options: SDH has more translation options than CC.

SDH vs Forced Subtitling

Another essential type of subtitles is forced subtitles, which expand the viewing experience of videos in different countries, languages and devices.

This type of subtitle is used to clarify information to the viewers; for example, in "Game of Thrones", you can see the dialogues of the story's characters speaking in Dothraki.

Here is the comparison between the two:

  • Target: SDH targets non-hearing or hearing-impaired audiences, and closed captioning targets people who can hear.
  • Appearance: SDH can vary but are often presented in white text on a black or semi-transparent background; the formation of closed captioning varies by platform, player or viewing device.
  • Transcription elements: SDH transcribes dialogue and includes a description of sounds (music, noises and speaker identification) and closed captions essentially transcribe the dialogue.

Why should I create captions for the deaf or hard of hearing?

World Health Organization estimates that by the year 2050, almost 2.5 billion people in the world will have some degree of hearing loss.

And it states that more than 5% of the world's population (about 430 million people) suffers from hearing loss.

sdh subtitles meaning

So, millions of people have difficulty consuming audio content; if you create SDH captions, you ensure that your message will reach an audience that would otherwise be excluded.

The decision to create SDH subtitles improves the accessibility of your content and reflects your spirit of serving all audiences.

ScriptMe, the ideal ally for creating SDH subtitles

Now that you know what SDH subtitles are and what they mean for millions of people worldwide, you need to create them for your videos, and ScriptMe is the perfect ally to help you with them.

You can create and edit them automatically to make them suitable for people who can't hear. The powerful online subtitle editor allows you to create SDH subtitles semi-automatically and have them ready in a few minutes.

SDH subtitles vs closed captioning

You can trim them, edit them as you want to make them more attractive and see the result superimposed on the video.

Give it a try; you will be surprised at how easy it will be to make SDH subtitles with ScriptMe.

In summary

Incorporating SDH subtitles into your videos is an excellent decision to improve accessibility to all your content for people with hearing difficulties.

If you don't know how to do it, ScriptMe provides this service using its innovative platform supported by artificial intelligence, or you can do it manually if you prefer.

We invite you to take the free trial, and if you like the service, you don't have to worry; it is not expensive: in exchange for a small investment, you will reach more and better all audiences.

**We would like to thank the creator of the material. All captures were taken from the following public videos: Video 1 - Video 2 

Emil Nikkhah
Hi, I'm Emil Nikkhah.
For over 25 years, I have successfully built several television post-production companies.
Frustrated by the high cost and slowness of manual transcription and subtitling in this industry, we decided to create ScriptMe, a powerful software for automatic transcription and subtitling.
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