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What is Live Captioning: Everything You Should Know

Christopher Nguyen
Christopher Nguyen
Posted in Zoom Mar 23 · 26 Mar, 2022
What is Live Captioning: Everything You Should Know

Live captions are increasingly becoming more popular. Incredibly beneficial, they assist those with hearing difficulties in a number of ways, but they serve several other purposes as well. Read on to find out more.

​All You Need to Know About Live Captions

What is a live caption? When is it needed? Simply stated, live captions are the textual record of spoken words implemented in real-time. But there’s a lot more to its definition than this summary. Here you’ll learn about the captions’ history, evolution, purposes, and what they accomplish.

​Understanding the History of and Reasons for Captions

Before getting into the ins and outs of live captioning, it’s essential to understand the basic concept of captions. Oftentimes, they get grouped into a collective category, wrongly interchanged with other types of text, such as subtitles.

Whereas subtitles are typically translations from one language to another, captions are in the language that’s being spoken. Having nothing to do with translating, their origins came about during the silent film era. As there was no sound, live music was used to entertain the audiences and enhance the on-screen visuals. Complementing this were occasional words, or captions, describing a particular event or emphasizing an important quote.

Once movies adopted sound synced to video, captions fell by the wayside. However, they resurfaced in a different capacity and form in the coming decades, even being required in certain countries for various forms of content.

Instead of sporadically assisting visuals, captions found their place as the text version of audio to assist deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers. Used as a transcribed assistant to audio, captions can be verbatim or in edited form. Not only do they relay spoken dialogue, but they can include music descriptions, sound effects, and other pertinent sound information.

​Closed Captions Versus Live Captions

The two primary forms of captioning are closed captions and live captioning. They each serve both similar and unique purposes. For example, all captioning involves written words either done by automatic solutions or human captioners.

Closed captioning is transcribed by captioners such as those at services like GoTranscript. They’re added ahead of time to pre-recorded content. You can find these captions for movies, video games, documentaries, music videos, and pretty much any other form of media where visuals and audio are combined. Sometimes, you may even notice a CC logo on your screen, indicating the availability of closed captioning.

But exactly what is a live caption by comparison? Intrinsically, it’s very close to closed captioning but delivered and utilized in a slightly different manner. Live captions work for real-time events instead of previously-filmed media. Lectures, news broadcasts, webinars, and meetings are great examples of how facilitating live captioning can be extremely helpful.

​Benefits of Live Captioning

History shows that captioning came about to establish better comprehension for audiences. Over time, it opened doors to inclusivity and accessibility, allowing millions with hearing impairments to learn, enjoy, and understand content. Today, with its prevalence working in conjunction with technological ease, live captions are a mainstay. Not limited to the deaf or hard-of-hearing, their use has been discovered for many purposes.

  • Quiet areas

If you’re in a situation where listening to audio is frowned upon or prohibited, you can still follow live productions without disturbing anyone.

  • Loud areas

Conversely, in areas with too much background noise, people are hard-pressed to watch anything, let alone the immediacy of live feeds. Live captioning makes viewing possible.

  • Teaching

For those learning to read or studying a new language, live captions are a clear and engaging reference for viewers, making their understanding more palatable and efficient.

  • Broadening an audience

From a business standpoint, adding real-time captions to your events and marketing introduces another way to touch base with your clientele, in addition to gaining a widened customer base.

  • Reinforcement

During events such as seminars and round tables, listening on its own bombards you with massive amounts of information, and too much of this limits retention. Live captions help you absorb more details since the words are presented in duplicity, dramatically decreasing fleeting memories and wandering thoughts caused by boredom and distractions.

  • Enhanced user experience

Overall, live text that follows along with spoken words offers an improved and less stressful situation for those involved.


Captions have a long history that traces back to early film. They rode the waves of time and technology, evolving into a feature that benefits all viewers. Today, such progression makes live captions an industry standard. To ensure your captions are accurate and properly formatted, always go with a professional service like GoTranscript. You’ll provide a tremendous outlet for gaining a broader user base and help your audience to enjoy your content in a relaxed and informed way.