Open Captioning Methods

Jun 26, 2019

Good day to everyone,

I create software simulations in the healthcare industry, and all too often, we are told that our users either do not have sound cards, or they do not have speakers, and as such, open captions are required for each eLearning.  Our current template leaves a space on the bottom of the screen for us to place the open captions in a text block, so that there is a consistent place that the entire narration will be presented.  As the narrator speaks the lines, they are presented at the bottom of the screen.

Recently, I was challenged to find a different, better way to provide open captioning.  However, other than finding 17000 sites defining what open captions are, I cannot find any opposing viewpoints as to the location, or any ways that differ from the method I described above.  So let me ask you:

If you use open captions, what methods do you use?  Do they move around the screen?  Are they in one static location?  Do you use a text pane, or do you use caption bubbles?

I would love to hear everyone's thoughts!  Thank you in advance.

Josh K

1 Reply
Judy Nollet

I think the best placement of captions depends partly on the content.

  • When the narrator is explaining concepts and/or providing overview info, it makes sense to consistently present the captions across the bottom of the slide -- just like they do when captioning a movie. (BTW, I like that you actually leave space for that instead of placing captions on top of content).
  • When the narrator is describing something that's happening on screen (e.g., software simulation), you can add those captions close to where the action is happening. That can make it a bit easier to read the narration and still see what's happening. Such caption placement can also help draw the user's eye toward the important part of the screen.
  • When a course includes scenarios where on-screen characters are "speaking," then putting their dialog into caption bubbles makes sense, since it'd be similar to reading the comics or a graphic novel.

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