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How to Make Your Video Posts More Accessible to an Untapped Market of Millions

This post on making your video posts accessible to the deaf community was written by Stephen Hopson from Adversity University.

According to Technorati’s report last year, the blogosphere continues to proliferate, doubling in size every six months. Technorati is now tracking over 70 million blogs. Over 120,000 of them are created every single day – that’s about 1.4 blogs per second. On top of that, you have 1.5 million posts a day, which translates to 17 per second.

Check this out:

Slide0005Source: State of the Blogosphere Report

Astronomical; even overwhelming, if you ask me! How does one manage to stand out in today’s fast evolving blogosphere?

Ever since I started Adversity University in the spring of 1996, I’ve read countless of articles on attracting and retaining quality subscribers, how to write authentic/inspiring articles as well as how to add visual images, to name a few. You’ve probably thought about jumping on the video bandwagon in an effort to stand out and connect with your readers. Perhaps you’ve already done so. Perhaps not.

The purpose of today’s article is to show you how easy it is to transform your videos into a visual symphony of sorts for thousands, perhaps millions of people who rely on the written word to “hear” your messages.


By adding subtitles to your videos.

Would you believe that the art of subtitling is actually very easy?

And that it won’t cost you a cent?

Vast Untapped Market

According to the United States Census Bureau, there are an estimated 35 million deaf and hard of hearing people in the United States alone. You also have aging baby boomers who find themselves continually cranking up the volume of their TV sets, radios and telephones. And then you have those whose native language is not English – like most people learning a new language, they find it easier to read than speak or understand spoken English.

How about reaching out and knocking on the door of their hearts with your wisdom?

If you knew that the simple act of subtitling your videos could potentially double, triple or even quadruple the size of your blog’s community, would you want to know how to do it?

I think any serious blogger who truly wants to make a difference and reach across language barriers would at least want to consider the possibilities.

ProBlogger Plants a Powerful Seed

It is remarkable how a seemingly insignificant action or event can change entire lives. One day last year, Darren unknowingly deposited a giant seed in my mind when he launched his first video post. He was among the earliest bloggers to give this new media tool a whirl.

While I sat transfixed and watched his introductory video, I literally heard the wheels turning in my mind:

Gosh, how did he make that video?

Would it be possible to subtitle a video post without causing myself a lot of pain and frustration?

Although deaf since birth, I consider myself an expert lip-reader but there was simply no way in high heck I could harness every word Darren was saying, no matter how hard I tried. From the moment my eyes feasted upon his video, those two questions unfurled before me a compelling vision to make video blogging accessible for the masses. With razor sharp focus, I combed through the Internet like Sherlock Holmes, searching for clues.

Despite my enthusiasm, I did not immediately apply what I discovered along the way because I allowed my technical-phobias stop me from taking action. Eventually, I became a little chagrined at having boxed myself into a quandary and woke up one morning, slammed my foot on the bedroom floor and said to no one in particular:


By golly, we have Nike to thank for inspiring us with that one!

As a result, I posted an introductory 2 minute video with subtitles at my blog last week (if you are an RSS or email subscriber, please click the title of today’s post to see it):

As you can see, there’s no need to make your first “perfect” video. Just be honest with your readers and let them know you’re still learning the ropes. They’ll forgive you. You saw how my video ended rather ungracefully. That’s because I still haven’t learned the fine art of editing – it’s on my to-do list. What had happened was that I ran out of battery power but by that point I had done about 10 retakes and knew that if I didn’t end it right then and there, I’d never go through with it. All that mattered was that I (and Darren with his) took the first step, right?

For those of you who have technical phobia, don’t worry. As much as you might want to turn and run away from this challenge, let me reassure you that I present myself as someone who has blatant disregard for user manuals simply because I have a terrible time grasping technical concepts. I don’t even have a Blackberry, never owned a pager and my VCR continues to blink 12:00. For goodness sake, you can’t get any worst than that!

In other words, don’t stress about it because if I can do it, you can too.

10 Steps to Making a Video and Then Adding Subtitles

1. You do not need to buy an exorbitantly expensive digital camcorder. What I used was a compact SONY MPEG4 Net Sharing Cam. When it first came out a year ago, it was selling for $200 but now you can get one for only $149. It comes with a CD-ROM, USB cable, AC Adapter, A/V Connecting Cable and a wrist strap. The best thing about it is that it has a rotatable viewfinder so I could see myself talking. At this point, I’m still experimenting with it. With the exception of some minor inconveniences like the trouble I first had in starting and stopping the recording process, I like it so far (I had to click the start/stop button several times to get it to do what I wanted it to do).

2. Along with the camcorder, I bought a tripod that was small enough to sit on my desk; yet capable of expanding to a larger size for when I want to stand in front of the camcorder. Compact tripods are everywhere – what you want is the one that has a removable plate to screw the SONY camcorder onto the tripod. The tripod was $20.

3. Since the internal memory of the camcorder was only 8 MB, a memory card with at least 1GB was necessary so that I could store my videos and photos. Toward that end, I purchased the Sandisk Memory Stick PRO Duo for about $28.

4. Ten retakes later (looking at the camera took getting used to), all I had to do was to connect the USB cable to the computer and download the video to a Movie Browser program that was previously installed onto my hard drive via the supplied CD-ROM.

5. I then signed up for YouTube (a breeze) and clicked the upload button. (You are asked to browse for and then select the location of your video).

6. Next, I visited Overstream, a do-it-yourself subtitling website, opened a free account and downloaded the YouTube video by filling in its URL. (Note: It also works with Google Videos if you prefer that).

7. With the help of Overstream’s very user-friendly tutorial, I was able to subtitle the video on my very first attempt. Granted, it took me 2 hours to get it just right it but it was a lot easier and more fun than I imagined it would be. Put yourself in my shoes – in order for me to do this, I had to watch the video very closely and read my own lips. Assuming that you have the ability to hear yourself speak, imagine how much easier subtitling would be for you.

8. After I was finally satisfied with the timing of the subtitles, the video was saved on Overstream’s server. You can drive yourself a little crazy here, especially if you are one of those perfectionists – at some point, you just have to stop and say, “Enough, this is the best I can do.” A pop-up box appeared, giving me a link to the embed code and a choice between small, medium and large video sizes – I went for medium.

9. For those of you who use WordPress, you probably already know how taxing it is to embed a video in a post because in order for it to work, you have to remember to first deselect the visual editor option before pasting the video code. To deselect the visual editor, click the “Users” tab within the WP Administrator Panel and then choose the “Your Profile” sub-tab. You’ll find the visual editor box on the upper portion of the page, under Personal Options.

10. Once I deselected the visual editor, I went back to the post and simply embedded the newly subtitled video.

That was it!

Now that I have shown how easy it is to create and subtitle a video, will you join me in a massive worldwide movement to make video blogging more accessible? I’d be humbled and grateful for it and so will countless of other people who rely on the written word to “hear” your video messages.

Until the next time we meet, let me wish you continued success with your blogging endeavors in 2008!

About the Author of this Post: Help and support Stephen by subscribing to his blog at Adversity University to receive inspiring articles about the power of achieving the impossible, overcoming and dealing with adversity in addition to some of the most revealing, in-depth “Stephen Hopson Interviews” of authentic bloggers. He is a former award-winning Wall Street stockbroker turned motivational speaker, author and the first deaf pilot in the world to earn an instrument rating in 2006. Read more about Stephen here.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  1. Seems Overstream is currently under maintenance. Can’t view the video :(

    Nice article though. I think i’ll start making one this weekend. As for the video camera, I think my N95 would do the job. :)

  2. Looks like overstream is under maintenance. Have you tried using Windows Movie Maker. It comes free with Windows XP.

  3. Be honest I have been scared to death on where to start for a video post and now I have more of an idea on whats required and will be seriously looking into doing my first video post..

    Top post guys!!!

  4. You might want to look into Camtasia as well. It’s a great software to make videos.

  5. As a blogger who often writes about accessibility, really pleased to see such a great article on creating more inclusion of readers/viewers with accessibility on videos.

    There are other free captioning/subtitling tools available. Rather than me list them, and how we can all make our sites better, one of my reference sites I point clients to is the Webaim site, which has lots of useful resources too, in an easy to understand format – Webaims articles section .


  6. Hi guys!

    I’m glad you like my guest post. Unfortunately Overstream is in the midst of migrating to a dedicated server. But I’m sure they’ll be up and running in no time. It’s a GREAT site and very easy to use.

    Please check back here so you can see the video when it’s up and running again. The timing of the migration was unfortunate and I’m sorry for it. But it’s only temporary.


  7. For step #9, you shuld have both a Visual and Code tab viewable, so click on the Code tab and it should be just like unselecting the Rich Text Editor, but with less steps. :)

    (unless they somehow changed this in the more recent versions of WordPress.)

  8. To Andrea:

    I’ll have to try that but I don’t think it works. My understanding is that the visual editor has to be clicked off entirely for this to work.

    Thanks for the tip – i’ll check it out.

  9. As a long time deaf reader of this blog, I’m finally glad this issue is being addressed! Legislation will eventually force vlogs to be subtitled (for pro sites), but I always advocate the benefits of an untapped market. The deaf market is a huge one, and should not be seen as a chore … make your content accessible, and its possibly easier to penetrate such a market. Because there’s little multi media access … I get extremely frustrated when I can’t follow people’s vlogs.

    There are other subtitling tools out there, however Overstream is a good start. :)

  10. Deaf people must love the Internet.

  11. I haven’t yet ventured into the world of video blogging, but one thing I have always liked about blogging itself is that it gives the deaf better access to information, as opposed to a traditional class or classroom (with no sign language)

    I definitely agree about what he said about being honest that you’re new to the game and just doing it. That’s what it’s all about!

    Great post! *=)

  12. Wow great post!

    120000 new blogs every day, i did’t know that!

  13. Wow, what a coincidence! I just did my first video this weekend. It was a trip, fun, scary and very cool. Never thought of subtitling, though. I see overstream is down. I’m gonna google and see what i get. Thanks for the great post.

  14. Exactly. Once I got my new computer Inspiron Dell notebook last month that came with the Windows Movie Maker and subtitling capability, I immediately began my video blogging with subtitles. I already knew the potential of reaching out to more deaf and hard of hearing audience out there knowing already there are some 30+ million people with hearing loss in the United States. I’m one of them.

    I’ve so far produced 4 videos with subtitles since last month starting in January. And I plan to make more. Like Stephen Hopson (hey there!) I was born with a hearing loss and I’m not afraid nor ashamed to use my voice to speak.

    I plan to do more fo these videos of mine in upcoming inspirational/motivational type videos in the future. People have been inspired by my videos and the fact that I take the time to add subtitles. I’ve so far inspired both hearing and deaf people that they decided to include subtitles, even for their signing videos!

    My videos can be seen at my blog site:

    It doesn’t hurt to do these subtitling efforts for your video blogs. It may take awhile at first but it gets easier and fun later on knowing the fact that your subtitled video will simply reach out to more people!

    My favorite video? Probably my first one – a parody of a Pepsi’s commercial, “Bob’s House” –

  15. By the way, forgot to mention that my laptop came with a built in camera, Which makes my impromptu video-tapping a snap.

  16. Hi Stephen,

    I’m planning to start doing video post sometime in the near future, and subtitles is something I didn’t think about before, thank you for bringing this subject up!

    I guess it is not as hard as one thinks, and I would give it a go once I have my posts shot.


  17. Stephen… I followed your post from Adversity and clicked over here! (not the other way around, although of course I love Darren…)… Congratulations! A post on PROBLOGGER…

    Still inspiring and living your purpose Stephen…

  18. If this method never produced any results would any of you take the time to do this for the deaf commity!

    Other than that this is good advice

  19. Chilly, is not about “doing for the deaf community” but doing for those whose hearing may be mild to profound and that additional help with subtitles can make a video viewing that much more enjoyable to watch and…understand. Not only for those with hearing loss, sometimes people with no hearing loss do have the ability to hear the words but can’t understand them. Kind of like a “hearing dyxlexia” kind of thing but reading the words can help make it easier. Not only that, those learning the English language is another possible audience to capture as well.

  20. I just started getting into doing video for my blogs and this is a great idea. Though I’m not deaf, I have been using closed captions on my tv for about 3 years and love “reading” the tv.

    Thanks for the reminder.

  21. Hello everyone:

    Thank you again for your interest in my guest post article on the value of subtitling your videos to make it more accessible.

    I wish to make it clear that this article was not meant to state that subtitling was exclusively for the benefit of the untapped deaf market.

    As I mentioned in my article, numerous other people will benefit including:

    1. aging baby boomers who are gradually becoming hard of hearing who find themselves cranking up their television sets, radios and the telephone. Subtitling with a high volume would help this fast growing segment.

    2. people whose native language is not English who can read but not yet speak or understand spoken English

    3. late deafened people who lose their hearing suddenly for whatever reason – it happens more often then you realize – they wake up and find themselves deaf for no apparent reason

    I’m sure there are other categories out there but I just wanted to make it clear that this was not exclusively targeted to the deaf community. It’s all those other people too. All of them together represent a huge untapped market. If you show them you care about reaching out to them, they will stick with you through highs and lows.

    As of right now (Wednesday, February 27, 2008 at 7:44 am Eastern Standard Time in the United States), Overstream is still down – still undergoing transition to a dedicated server. I just spoke with the administrator of Overstream who says it should be up and running any time now. And you’ll be able to see my video with subtitles (it was my first video ever, I’ve since made another one).

    Thanks to everyone for their interest in this subject matter.

  22. Way to go, Stephen!

    And Darren, does this mean you’ll now add captions to your videos? ::::Waiting with crossed fingers!:::::

  23. Boy, aren’t we thankful to all the inventors of the greatest innovation of this age.
    1. Thanks to the fast broadband we are able to upload huge ‘bytes’ of file size in a few minutes
    2. The amazing gadgets which by the way continues to keep getting better and better! (digicams and camcorder)
    3. Gates!
    4. and most importantly, the collective and trendy ideas!

  24. You will probably be unable to tell from my written english, but I’m not a native speaker. Understanding spoken english can be hard for me because I use english almost exclusively in written form.

    Subtitles definitely help, it’s how I learned the language in the first place! Great post Stephen.

  25. You are right on several points you made on your post. Subtitles for the disadvantaged of our world is an untapped market.

    I must admit I have gotten quite curious about the resources you listed.

    I hope you keep promoting thoughtful practical advice.

  26. Stephen-

    Great post! I’m new to blogging and my niche is adventure related. I’m into prospecting for gold and I have been considering video posts, but didn’t know where to start and didn’t have the time to delve into it–thinking it to be too technical to be a quick learn. But your post has convinced me otherwise, and I’m going to give it a go, and subtitles will be a definite plus!

    Thanks and good luck!


  27. Jason:

    I’m glad to be of help! Best wishes for your new video adventures!


    Overstream is now back up and running as of 6:09 pm, Wednesday, February 27th USA EST.

    You should be able to see my video in this article now.

    Finally! Hope it’s not too late for those of you coming in at this late stage.

  29. Vitor:

    You’re the first person to come online in this discussion about the benefits of subtitling for those whose native language is not English.

    Thank you for helping me make the case that subtitling does not only benefit the deaf/hard of hearing but also people like you!

    Great comment.

  30. What a great post. I have not explored the idea of subtitling videos that are posted on a blog. This is a very helpful post that will come in handy. I especially enjoyed how you have provided the step by step instructions on how to do it and also your explanation of why this could help many bloggers who utilize video on their blogs.

    I agree with thanking Nike for giving us that inspiring phrase.

  31. My hearing is perfectly normal, but I love subtitles too!

    I usually display the subtitles when watching DVDs as it helps overcome problems like poor sound quality, poor pronounciation, unfamiliar accents, or unavoidable background noises. We’ve probably all seen movies where the music and effects are louder than the actors’ speech.

    My only grumble is that in all this talk of accessibility, one group always seems to be overlooked when it comes to videos – those who don’t have fast broadband (I suspect these would outnumber deaf people worldwide). Even entry-level broadband (256k in Aust) doesn’t support smooth viewing.

    I remember back in the old days of the internet, 10 years ago, a skiing site I visited had ski videos available in both good quality and low bandwidth quality. The low bandwidth versions were smaller and lower in quality, but at least I could view them, even on a dialup connection. Surely if it could be done back then, it must be possible now. Then those not blessed with fast broadband could enjoy video as well as the deaf.

  32. An amazing piece of work! I am going to add captions to all my videos from now on which I publish on the web. :)

    Hats off Stephen!

  33. Graham (Lintcollector):

    Your comments were very much “value-added” in this ongoing conversation we’re having becuase you’ve brought up additional reasons for subtitling such as overcoming problems like poor sound quality, poor pronounciation, unfamiliar accents, or unavoidable background noises.

    Great pointers! Thanks for sharing.

  34. Archit:

    I’m thrilled to see that you’ve been convinced of the value of adding subtitles to all of your future videos. Be sure to tell me when they go online for I’d love to view them!

  35. “Madlab”

    Happy to know my step-by-step instructions were helpful. Good luck with it!

  36. gives me more interest to do that video thing. I have not tried it even once.. lolz

    But yes its true, our targeted viewer will appreciate that and it will make them feel that we our true persons who is not perfect at times..

    Thanks for that Post

  37. Great tips!! But where what is a good video blog? I mean a video blog guides?

  38. Edwin:

    I’m glad this article inspired you to give the video thing a try. Once you get your feet wet and start, you’ll be surprised how much fun it actually is. And then if you take the extra step and subtitle the videos, you’ll discover a whole new way of communicating with everyone.

    Try it! You’ll like it! :)

  39. Dereks says: 03/09/2008 at 1:42 am

    my God, I couldn’t stand his voice and turned it off. So disturbing ((( Yet, he seems to be a nice guy. But sometimes videocasts are not the option.

  40. What a great post. I have not explored the idea of subtitling videos that are posted on a blog. This is a very helpful post that will come in handy.

  41. What a wonderful idea. I am going to do this with my next video. Also I use Moviestorm, a program that uses game engine technology allowing one to create 3d animated videos. We have animations that allow our puppets to use sign language.

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