Who uses captions?

In the United States, 36 million adults — about 17% of the population — have some level of hearing loss. This community relies on captions to provide them with accessibility to television programs, city council meetings, web videos, and everything in-between. For this reason, federal law has required all TV broadcasts to be captioned, with only a few exceptions, since January 1, 2006.

Captioning also helps viewers who are new to learning the English language and viewers who are improving their literacy skills. Extensive research has proven that captions help to improve grammar, spelling, and reading comprehension1. Additionally, captions also help viewers in a noisy venue who can’t hear what’s being said (e.g. bars, sporting events, business conferences, etc.).

LNS is proud to provide captions for stadiums, sporting events, city councils and T.V stations across the country.

1. Ellsworth, T. (1992), October. Integrating subtitled video into your teaching, “English Teaching Forum.”
Garza, T. (1991). Evaluating the use of captioned video materials in advanced foreign language learning. “Foreign Language Annals, 24(3), “ 239-58.
Rees, T. (1993). “Closed captions in the classroom.” Unpublished manuscript. Northampton, MA: International Language Institute of Massachusetts.
Rogner, B.M. (1987). Adult Literacy: Captioned Videotapes and Word Recognition. The Union Institute, The Graduate School. Cincinnati, Ohio (Sept 1992).

How does LNS measure quality and accuracy?

Our live captioners access scripts to confirm correct proper name spelling and prepare in advance for broadcasts. We know our accuracy rate exceeds 98.7% because we check. Our Quality Control Process is in the hands of a retired English teacher. Our captioners submit all of the caption files from broadcasts and a random sample of their work is graded on spelling, punctuation, homophone choice, mistranslation, coherence, spacing, and any other factor which affects the readability and accuracy of the captions.

What are the current laws regarding closed captioning? (e.g. FCC, ADA, Section 508)

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Different captioning requirements apply to new and pre-rule programming. Certain exemptions from the captioning requirements apply to both of these categories of programming.
New Programming: As of January 1, 2006, all new English language programming, defined as analog programming first published or exhibited on or after January 1, 1998, and digital programming first aired on or after July 1, 2002, must be captioned, with some exceptions.

Pre-rule Programming: Analog programming first shown before January 1, 1998, and digital programming first shown before July 1, 2002, are called “Pre-Rule Programming.” Pre-Rule Programming that is not exempt from the closed captioning rules must be captioned as follows: 
January 1, 2005, to December 31, 2011: 30 percent of programming per channel per quarter.

January 1, 2008, and thereafter: 75 percent of programming per channel per quarter.

(Courtesy FCC website)

For more information visit the FCC’s website, or call the FCC toll-free at 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322), TTY 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322).

Americans Disabilities Act (ADA)

Visit the ADA Best Practices Tool Kit for State and Local Governments website to learn more about how you can expand accessibility to your audience.


As directed by Congress in the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has adopted rules requiring the closed captioning of most television programming. Any television public service announcement that is produced or funded in whole or in part by any agency or instrumentality of federal government shall include closed captioning of the verbal content of such announcement. A television broadcast station licensee–

(1) shall not be required to supply closed captioning for any such announcement that fails to include it; and

(2) shall not be liable for broadcasting any such announcement without transmitting a closed caption unless the licensee intentionally fails to transmit the closed caption that was included with the announcement.”

Section 508

In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act with Section 508, requiring federal agencies to give disabled employees and members of the public access to information that is comparable to the access available to others. The law applies to all federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain or use electronic and information technology.

In accordance with Section 508, all training and informational video and multimedia productions which support the agency’s mission, that contain speech or other audio information necessary for the comprehension of the content, require open or closed captions and audio description.

(courtesy Section508.gov)

What is the difference between live captioning and post production?

With live captioning, a certified court reporter creates captions in real-time for live events and live videos. Whether present at the event in person or connected to the event via webstream or internet phone line, the captioner transcribes the audio portion of the event or video. The captions can be displayed on a public screen, a smart phone, a personal computer, or other web-accessible device. Live captioning events can include city council meetings, live sports events, webinars, and more.
Also known as offline captioning, post production captioning is used for programs that have already been created in a media format, such as television series, commercials, DVDs, online videos, and feature length movies. It is the most accurate type of captioning available, reflecting production aesthetics and delivering the maximum level of precision. The captioner receives the video, transcribes the audio portion, and encodes the captions into the video with time codes, ensuring that the audio and text are accurately synced.

What is captioning?

Captioning is the process of transcribing the audio portion of a live event, televised broadcast, pre-recorded program, web video, DVD, webinar, or other production and displaying the captions on a visual display system. Captioning can either be live, in which a captioner transcribes a real-time event, or post-production, in which a captioner transcribes and encodes captions into the video product.
The purpose of captioning is to extend accessibility of a live event or post production program to the deaf and hard of hearing community as well as assist viewers new to learning the English language, viewers looking to improve their literacy skills, and viewers who simply have a hard time hearing the audio portion of the production.

How are closed captions accessed on a TV?

Since 1993, built-in caption decoders are required in television sets with 13-inch or larger screens. This means that there is most likely a button on your remote that can easily turn on the closed captions. If you have an older television set, set-top decoders are available to make captions accessible to you.

Where can I get additional information on closed captioning?

Why are the captions full of inaccurate text/missing large portions of text?

Captions can be inaccurate for a number of reasons, but oftentimes if they look entirely garbled or if large amounts of text are missing, there is a problem with the equipment. This could mean either your television and cable or satellite box, or the equipment at the network or cable provider.
Check out your TV and cable or satellite box as well as the connection at the wall. If you have more than one TV in your home, compare the captions on one TV to another. If all of your TVs show the same problem, contact the network via their website or your cable or satellite service for help. Your invoice should have contact information for troubleshooting technical problems. If the cable or satellite provider is not helpful, Let the FCC know.
Go to this website to file an informal complaint.

What do I do if a program or DVD that I want to watch is not captioned?

You should contact the network that is airing the program as well as the local affiliate station via their website or contact number. If you have a purchased DVD that you would like captioned, contact the distributor or the producer about your concern. Unfortunately, we cannot make modifications to the product because only the companies involved in the DVD’s release have the rights.

Are there movies with captions in the movie theater?

Yes! Many movie theaters have recently begun to show films with captions or same-language subtitles. Visit the website www.captionfish.com to find a theater near you that offers this service.

How can I find captioned videos on YouTube™?

To find videos with captions first, enter your search term in the YouTubeTM search bar and click Search. Then, to narrow your search to only videos with closed captions, select Filter (appears just above the video results) and select “CC (closed captioning)” in the far right column. The website will then automatically filter out uncaptioned videos from your search.

What equipment does a broadcasting station need to have to use live captioning?

The station needs to have a closed caption encoder, two POTS phone lines (one for the audio for the captioner and one to send the caption data into the encoder) and an audio coupler to allow audio from the broadcast to be sent via telephone line. The phone line for the encoder line must be a POTS line. Digital phone lines compress data, which causes captions to be unreadable.

What is C.A.R.T. (Live Event Captioning)?

Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is the instant translation of the spoken word into text via live captioning. CART provides access for deaf and hard of hearing participants to events, conventions, conferences classes, public hearings, presentations and meetings. Our captioner attends the event and provides an individual view on a laptop display or connects to a projector or television to give the whole audience access to captions.

What does the live captioning process entail?

Because there are different types of live captioning, the processes vary. For broadcast , the captioner is connected via phoneline and captions from a separate location. For a live event, the captioner can either be in-person or caption via a phoneline or webstream. For a webstream event, LNS can provide our LNS Webstream platform for you or can connect to your own.
For more information about your specific needs, contact us through our Request a Quote page or call us at our toll free 800 number.

What credentials should a good captioner have?

Although there are no required certifications for captioners, there are many different prestigious tests offered to indicate skill level.  Certification is offered by the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) and by state court reporters’ associations like the Oregon Court Reporters Association (OCRA).
Some national and state certifications include: Registered Merit Reporter – NCRA (RMR), Registered Diplomate Reporter—NCRA (RDR), Registered Professional Reporter – NCRA (RPR), Oregon Award of Excellence (OCRA), Certified Realtime Reporter – NCRA (CRR), Certified CART Provider (CCP), and Certified Broadcast Captioner-NCRA (CBC).
Check out our Credentials page to learn more about these credentials, which are all held by many LNS captioners.

What equipment is needed for live captioning?

The station needs to have a closed caption encoder, twonon-internet phonelines (one for the audio for the captioner and one to send the caption data into the encoder) and an audio coupler to allow audio from the broadcast to be sent via telephone line.

What is the cost of live captioning?

Due to the varied nature of live captioning services – which include anything from professional sports events to small business webinars—it is difficult to accurately assess the cost without specific details of your project. Visit our Request a Quote page to tell us about your event and to receive a price quote.

If a captioned program is copied, will the captions remain?

Yes, the captions are embedded into line 21 of the video stream. The captions should remain unless the dub has them specifically blanked out, or if any video compression damages the caption data.

How do I order?

Visit our Request a Quote page to tell us about your live captioning project and see how we can help!

Do you provide live captioning for meetings and classrooms?

Yes! LNS can caption meetings and public events or classroom presentations either in-person or via webstream or internet phone line. Visit our Meetings and Public Events/CART and LNS Webstream page for more information!

How can I become a live captioner?

If you are looking for a career in captioning, you should enroll in a court reporting school. Here, court reporters and captioners perfect skills like fast and accurate stenography, how to use the required equipment, spelling and grammar rules, etc. Though many certifications are not required, it is beneficial to have certain credentials like the Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR), Certified CART Provider (CCP), and Certified Broadcast Captioner (CBC) certifications. Visit our Credentials page to learn more about these tests and visit the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) career website to find a school or program near you.

Can you caption my webinar? What webinar platforms can you work with?

Yes! LNS can provide our LNS Webstream platform for you or can connect to your own, including Adobe Connect Pro, WebEx, GoToMeeting, Granicus, and many more. Check out our Webinar page for more information and see how we can help you! We can also provide a web based video file at the conclusion of the webinar. We support many file formats, including .XML, .SCC, .SRT and more.

What is post-production captioning?

In post-production captioning, also known as offline captioning, captions are added to pre-produced programs.
Using your master (and script, if available), we transcribe the audio and break the resulting text into individual captions. We also add timing reference points to each caption so they appear on the television screen at the correct time. Next, we proof the captions and then embed or encode them onto line 21 of the vertical blanking interval (VBI) of a new videotape or DVD, now called the caption master.
These captions can be viewed when a television’s closed-caption decoder, usually located in the TV’s menu, is turned on.
Post-production captioning is also used for captioning web videos like Flash, Windows Media, Quicktime, Real Player, or YouTubeTM. All you have to do is use our online quote page to tell us about your project. We’ll contact you with a login and password for our FTP site, where you can upload your video. Upload your video, and we’ll start captioning right away. We’ll email you the webvideo-ready caption file, which you can add to your video.

What is the difference between open and closed captions?

Open captions are captions that are burned into the video, meaning they are always present and cannot be turned on or off. Closed captions are just the opposite. They are embedded onto the program and can be turned on or off using your television’s menu.

How long does it take to get something captioned?

This depends on the length of your production. Commercial spots, for example, can be turned around as quickly as the same-day. For longer programs, 3-5 business days is the average. However, we are familiar with production and know that there may be times when you need a quicker turnaround than this. In these situations, please call us as soon as possible and we’ll find a solution for you.

What does the captioning process entail?

First you send us a copy of your video master with burn-in timecodes, if possible. Our professional captioners will transcribe and time any dialogue, narration, and sound effects according to national captioning standards. We will then thoroughly review the captioned program for readability and quality assurance before we produce the electronic caption file. Our team will either email the caption file back to you or use it to encode your project to tape, DVD, or digital media. The encoding process differs depending on whether the captions will be displayed on TV, DVD, websites, etc. For more information about your specific needs, contact us through our Request a Quote page or call us at our toll free 800 number.

What is the difference between ‘pop-up’ and ‘roll-up’ captioning?

Pop-up captions are captions that appear on the screen in 2-3 lines at a time as small blocks of text. This style is only used in post production because it requires precise time coding, syncing, and placement on the screen. Pop-up captions do not block important on-screen text or visuals. Click here to see a demo of pop-up captions

Roll-up captions are captions in which individual lines appear on the screen and roll up to make way for the next lines. Like pop-up, roll-up captions do not cover important on-screen text or visuals. This style is most common with live captioning because the lines appear on the screen as the captioner is transcribing the audio content in real-time. Click here to see a demo of roll-up captions.

What is encoding?

Encoding is the process of marrying the captions to the video program you give us. After the caption or subtitle file is produced, it goes through a caption encoder, which merges the caption file into the video. This can be used to either embed closed captions or to burn subtitles or open captions into the video.

If a captioned program is copied will the captions remain?

If a program is captioned to tape, such as Digibeta, HDCam, or Beta SP, then yes, every copy from that point on will preserve the captioned material. The same goes for DVDs. For digital videos, however, captions can often be stripped out of the file during conversion or transfer. We can avoid digital caption loss by “open captioning” the video, or permanently embedding the captions in the video stream.

How do I order?

Visit our Request a Quote page to tell us about your post-production project and see how we can help!

What file formats can I deliver to you?

If we are producing an encoded video for you, we will need your highest quality video master. We can accept this either on tape (Digibeta, HDCam, XDCam, etc.) or on a portable hard drive. If you are doing your own encoding, however, we will simply need a low-resolution video reference file that we can use for transcription and timing purposes. We can accept the video reference file in any digital format – MOV, WMV, AVI, etc.

How do you handle foreign languages?

We can provide subtitles and translations in a variety of languages, including Spanish, French, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, and many more. The subtitling process is similar to captioning in that we first transcribe and time the English video. Then we export the timed document as a subtitle template, which we send over to our translators. They then translate the text and produce the completed template. We then import that into our software so that the foreign language subtitles are already time and ready to go.

Do you do HiDef captioning?

Yes, we can provide HD captioning. However, we do not currently offer tapeless captioning for broadcast.

Do you offer DVD authoring?

Yes! LNS can create caption or subtitle files for any of today’s major DVD authoring systems, including Sonic Creator, Sonic Scenarist, Apple DVD Studio Pro, Apple Maestro, Sony, Panasonic, and Toshiba. Visit our DVD Authoring page for more information. If you have additional questions about DVD authoring, contact us through our Request a Quote page or call 800.366.6201.

Can I have captions on my Blu-ray disc? / Can you make me a Blu-ray?

Yes, we can add captions or subtitles to your Blu-ray disc. Our team can either send you the caption or subtitle files to incorporate into your production stream or we can help you to create the Blu-ray disc.

Can you caption my web video?

Yes! LNS can caption your Flash, Windows Media, Quicktime, Real Player, or YouTubeTM web videos so you can reach a wider audience. Visit our Web Video page to learn more about how we can help you! If you have additional questions about web video captioning, contact us through our Request a Quote page or call 800.366.6201.

What are hardcoded(embedded) subtitles?

If you have a source video that you need to distribute in a variety of formats – for training DVDs, websites, handheld devices, etc. – hardcoded (embedded) subtitles might be the best solution for you. We encode the subtitles directly onto your source video so that the subtitles are a permanent part of the video data. Hardcoded subtitles can never be turned off, but this style of encoding also eliminates the worry that subtitles won’t display correctly during a presentation.

Can you caption for iPod or iTunes?

Yes, we can caption your videos for iPods, iTunes, phones, and other handheld devices. Just send us your video and we’ll create a captioned video that is suitable for handheld display. Visit our Request a Quote page to learn more about how we can help you.

How do you add captions to compressed video files?

The caption encoding process differs depending on what type of compressed video you have and how you want to display the captions. Each standalone video player takes a different type of caption file, so we would provide the appropriate caption file along with instructions for incorporating that file with the original video for display. You can give us more details about your project at our Request a Quote page.

We can also hardcode the captions into your video. In this process, the captions become part of the video stream itself so the captions always remain on. Hardcoding is a good option if you need the video in a variety of file formats – Flash, Windows Media, YouTubeTM, etc.

What is audio description?

There are over 10 million visually-impaired people in the United States who miss the important visual aspects of video and multimedia products. Audio description (sometimes called “video description”) is an audio narration track that plays along with the regular audio track. We create scripts from your video and work with voice talent to describe significant on-screen visuals during the natural pauses for those who are unable to see what’s taking place.