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preacher in pulpit with captions showing


We are often asked about captions, and we always advocate for their use. Captions are not only for Deaf people: a recent study indicates that 80% of users are not Deaf or hard-of-hearing. They are useful for people with mild hearing loss, and for those whose first language is not English (or whatever is used in a video). Captions have also been shown to increase understanding and retention for hearing people. They allow video usage in noisy situations with or without crowds, and in places where it is rude or unsafe to play audio, such as on public transit. Read a longer report from 3Play Media to learn more.
Podcasts also require transcripts or captions to be accessible, for the same reasons.

Theologically, captions help provide an equal experience for all. That is justice. When we exclude anyone, the body of Christ suffers. Using the parallelism that is typical of Hebrew poetry, Leviticus 19.14 states “Do not curse the deaf or put something in front of the blind so as to make them stumble over it” (GNT). Curses, stumbling blocks, and more are not the treatment we are to give people with different needs: the fulfillment of the Law, as Jesus stated, is to love, and to us, that means to provide accommodations.
Cost can be a problem. Despite technological advances, it's still an intensely human activity. But there are ways to handle this. We first need to ask what value we place on a life. Also consider that captioning is a growing business. Could your congregation help someone get started as an outreach project? One of the most widely-used platforms, YouTube, can generate automatic captions. The accuracy of these captions varies, but there's also an easy way to edit them (see below).

  • Captioning services and apps

  • Social media