What are SDH Subtitles & How Are They Different from Closed Captions

What are SDH Subtitles

When it comes to captions and subtitles, most people don’t know the difference between them and just use them interchangeably. However, there’s a huge difference between the two, and people should understand them in order to help all people.

Before we learn about SDH subtitles, it’s important to know what closed captions and subtitles are.

Closed Captions and Subtitles

Closed captions and subtitles both refer to the synchronized text that appears at the bottom of the video.  The audio in videos and movies is harmonized with the text, and as the words are spoken on screen, people can read them simultaneously through the subtitles or captions appearing at the bottom of the screen.



When subtitles are provided in a video, the creators assume that their audience can hear perfectly but have trouble understanding the language or accent.

Difference Between Closed Captions and Subtitles

When subtitles are provided in a video, the creators assume that their audience can hear perfectly but have trouble understanding the language or accent. Subtitles are akin to translations; therefore, they only display the spoken audio under their videos. There are no other sound effects mentioned in the subtitles.

On the other hand, closed captioning is used by creators who want to reach a larger audience and keep in mind that their viewers might be deaf or hard of hearing. This is why the text representation dubbed as closed captioning displays all kinds of sound effects portrayed on the screen. These captions describe all audio, from interpreting what’s being said on the video to the non-speech cues happening. There is also a law to put in videos in the United States.


SDH Subtitles 

When we combine subtitles and closed captioning together, we get Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (SDH)!

We know that subtitles cater to people who can hear perfectly but have a hard time understanding the language of the video. Whereas closed captions cater to the people who can understand the language but cannot hear perfectly; therefore, they need text representations to understand.

SDH Subtitles

SDH or the subtitles created for the deaf and hard of hearing cater to all people; the people who cannot understand the foreign language on-screen and the people who can’t understand the language and have a hearing problem. SDH subtitles present the translation of the audio being spoken as well as all the non-speech cues like gasping, wheezing, sniffling and loudly laughing.

Unlike normal captions used for videos in the language that viewers understand, SDH  are captions for the hearing impaired. These subtitles are for the deaf viewers who don’t understand the foreign language and can’t hear the audio either.

The SDH subtitles and Closed Captions are similar in a lot of ways like:

  • The text visuals are perfectly in-sync with the audio in all videos and movies.
  • The closed captions, as well as the SDH subtitles, can be turned on and off through the will of the viewer.
  • The SDH and closed captions are both in the source language that the audience understands.
  • Closed captions and SDH subtitles both depict all sound effects under the videos for people with hearing impairments to understand. 
  • Differences

The differences in SDH and Closed Captions appear more in text setting and placement than any other thing because otherwise, both things work in the same way. A provider of translation services that specializes in both activities will know the small differences between these two activities in detail.

  • The text appearance in SDH subtitles varies depending on the creator. So, the colors and fonts might differ from each other. In comparison, the closed captions have white text with a black background in all kinds of videos.
  • The on-screen placement of SDH subtitles remains the same centered lower bottom third in all videos. In contrast, the closed captions vary in their placement throughout the video.  They are usually on the lower part of the video, but they move upwards when there are other wordings on the lower screen, or they move from side to side.
  • The subtitles file encoding in videos is supported through HDMI, whereas the closed captioning encoding is not supported through HDMI.
  • The main visual difference between them is that closed captioning is used in videos of the same language, whereas SDH subtitles are used in videos and movies of different languages.



We know that subtitles cater to people who can hear perfectly but have a hard time understanding the language of the video.

Benefits of SDH Subtitles

Even though subtitles and closed captioning make videos and movies accessible to a wide range of audiences, including the deaf and the hard of hearing, the SDH subtitles improve their experience tenfold!

Some of its benefits include:

  • The comprehension of the scene is improved through the SDH subtitling.
  • Besides the deaf, it also helps the audience with cognitive disabilities, and attention deficits interpret the videos with ease.
  • They are also helpful for people who have a hard time understanding the different accents worldwide or have some speech impediments.
  • SDH subtitles also make it easier for people to view video content where they are prohibited from making any sound.

Final Thoughts

With the recent developments in technology, science and research are always moving forward to make things easier for people every day. SDH is a simple example of that. Even though they had already introduced subtitles and closed captions for people with hearing impairments, they still invented SDH subtitles to make it easier to watch videos and movies of different languages.