Subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing (SDH), known as captions in the US, Canada and Australia, are characterised by the following elements:

  • they can be intralingual (same-language subtitles) or interlingual (from the source language to another).
  • they include verbal and (unlike subtitles for hearing viewers) also non-verbal sound information about character identification, sound effects, manner of speaking and music.
  • they can be edited or verbatim: depending on their speed, they can contain every word included in the audio or not.
  • they can be open (burnt on the image) or closed (activated by the users).
  • initially designed for viewers with hearing loss, they are equally useful for, and used by, language learners, foreigners and immigrants, hearing people in noisy environments and people with intellectual or learning difficulties. They are thus illustrative of the wide notion of media accessibility supported by GALMA.

These subtitles are often only considered at the distribution process, involving no contact between filmmakers and subtitlers. At GALMA, we’re promoting the integration of SDH into the filmmaking process, as per the accessible filmmaking approach, both in terms of research and practice in films, such as the award-winning documentary Notes on Blindness.


De Linde, Z. and N. Kay (1999) The Semiotics of Subtitling, Manchester: St. Jerome Publishing.

Neves, J. (2018) ‘Subtitling for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Audiences: Moving forward’, in L. Pérez-González (ed.) The Routledge Handbook of Audiovisual Translation, London & New York: Routledge, 82-95.

Romero-Fresco, P. (ed.) (2015) The Reception of Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Oxford, Wien: Peter Lang.

Universidade de VigoXunta de GaliciaMinisterio de EconomíaEuropean Union

Universidade de Vigo Facultade de Filoloxía e Tradución | Despacho Newton 5 | Campus de Vigo As Lagoas | Ctra. de Marcosende | 36310 Vigo (España)
Back to top
gtag('config', 'UA-122084657-2');