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Special Considerations

Spoken language is rich and full of meaning. However, it also consists of oddly formed sentences and even word play. Accuracy, clarity, and readability are challenges for the captioner.

Intonation, Play on Words, and No Audio

  1. If the speaker is not visible onscreen, or visual clues that denote the emotional state are not shown, indicate the speaker’s emotion. Example:
    Inappropriate Well, whatever!
    Appropriate [angrily]
    Well, whatever!
  2. When a person is whispering, caption as:
    [whispering]
    Okay, you go first.
  3. When feasible, describe puns. Example:
    Why do they call her “Ouisy”?
    [“Wheezy”]
  4. When people are seen talking, but there is no audio, caption as [no audio] or [silence].

Foreign Language, Dialect, Slang, and Phonetics

  1. If possible, caption the actual foreign words. If it is not possible to caption the words, use a description (e.g., [speaking French]). Never translate into English.
  2. If possible, use accent marks, diacritical marks, and other indicators.
  3. Indicate regional accent at the beginning of the first caption. Example:
    Inappropriate If y’all want me to.
    Appropriate [Southern accent]
    If y’all want me to.
  4. Keep the flavor of dialect. Example:
    Inappropriate You are sure not
    from around here.
    Appropriate You sho’ ain’t
    from ’round here.
  5. Keep the flavor of the speaker’s language when necessary to portray a character’s personality. This includes captioning profanity and slang. Examples:
    Inappropriate I’m not going anywhere. [cursing]
    Appropriate I ain’t going nowhere. Damn!
  6. When a word is spoken phonetically, caption it the way it is commonly written. Examples:
    Original Narration “N-double-A-C-P” “www dot D-C-M-P dot org” “eight or nine hundred” “a thousand” “One thousand”
    Captioned As NAACP www.dcmp.org 800 or 900 a thousand 1000

Music

  1. When captioning music, use descriptions that indicate the mood. Be as objective as possible. Avoid subjective words, such as “delightful,” “beautiful,” or “melodic.”
  2. If music contains lyrics, caption the lyrics verbatim. The lyrics should be introduced with the name of the vocalist/vocal group, the title (in brackets) if known/significant, and if the presentation rate permits.
    demonstration of using captioning to convey meta information about a song.
    Please enable Javascript to view the fully-featured clip. View MP4 version.
    demonstration of using captioning to convey meta information about a song.
  3. Caption lyrics with music icons (♪). Use one music icon at the beginning and end of each caption within a song, but use two music icons at the end of the last line of a song.
    demonstration of using eigth notes.
    Please enable Javascript to view the fully-featured clip. View MP4 version.
    demonstration of using eigth notes.
  4. A description (in brackets) should be used for instrumental/background music or when verbatim captioning would exceed the presentation rate. If known, the description should include the performer/composer and the title. Examples:
    [Louis Armstrong plays
    “Hello Dolly”]
    [lyrical flute solo] [pianist playing
    the national anthem]
  5. Beware of misplaced modifiers in descriptions. Example:
    Inappropriate [frantic piano playing]
    an illustration of an angry-looking piano holding a basketball.
    an illustration of an angry-looking piano holding a basketball.
    Appropriate [frantic piano music]
    demonstration of appropriate modifier.
    Please enable Javascript to view the fully-featured clip. View MP4 version.
    demonstration of appropriate modifier.
  6. For background music that is not important to the content of the program, place a music icon in the upper right corner of the screen.

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