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Best practices for sign language and subtitles

In this article, we review the best practices for the insertion of sign language and subtitles, so that your content is accessible to everyone. If you find it too complicated and prefer to outsource this service, at NearU Translations we will be happy to help you, please contact us.

Accessibility is a fundamental right for all people, including the hearing impaired. Don’t forget that sooner or later it is very likely that we will all have some degree of hearing impairment. Adding sign language and subtitles to audiovisual content is a way of ensuring that these people can access information and entertainment in the same way as non-disabled people.

In addition to being a human rights issue, accessibility is also an opportunity to expand the reach of content and reach new audiences. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there are approximately 466 million hearing-impaired people in the world in 2023. This figure represents 5% of the world’s population. It is estimated that this number will increase to 900 million by 2050.


Subtitling is an accessibility tool that consists of transcribing audiovisual content into text. Subtitles are displayed at the bottom of the screen, synchronised with the audio.

To get the most out of subtitles, it is important to follow good practice:

  • Use a font size and colour contrast that are easily legible.
  • Avoid using abbreviations, slang and jargon.
  • Transcribe them in full, including pauses, noises and sound effects.
  • Adjust the delay time between audio and subtitles so that they are displayed synchronously.

Font size and colour contrast

Font size and colour contrast are two important factors in ensuring the readability of subtitles.

The font size should be large enough to be read easily, even by people wearing glasses or sitting far away from the screen. The colour contrast should be strong enough so that the subtitles stand out against the background of the video. If necessary, add a background to the subtitle to create the contrast needed to make the subtitles easy to read.

Avoid abbreviations, slang and jargon.

Subtitles should be written in clear and concise language. It is important to avoid the use of abbreviations, slang and jargon, as they can make it difficult to understand the content. Slang and jargon should only be used if the characters speak in that way.

Full transcription

Subtitles should fully transcribe the audio, including pauses, noises and sound effects. This is important to ensure that hearing-impaired people do not miss any important information about what is happening.

Delay time

The delay time between audio and subtitles must be adjusted to ensure that they are displayed synchronously. There are tools that make this process much easier.

Sign language

A natural visual, gestural and spatial language with its own grammar that has all the characteristics and functions of any other language. There is no single sign language in the world; each country has one or more sign languages that have evolved within their linguistic communities, independently of oral languages. Sign language facilitates learning in general, as well as access to the spoken language and facilitates participation and social inclusion. Sign language adds up.

In order for sign language inclusion to be effective, it is important to follow some good practices:

  • Use a qualified and experienced interpreter.
  • Position the sign language window so that it does not interfere with the viewing of audiovisual content.
  • Adjust the size of the sign language window so that the signs are easily visible.

Qualified and experienced interpreter

It is important to use a qualified and experienced interpreter to ensure that the sign language translation is accurate and faithful to the original content.

Position of the sign language window

The sign language window should be positioned so that it does not interfere with the viewing of the audiovisual content. Ideally, the window should be placed at the bottom of the screen so that it does not obscure any important elements of the video.

Size of the window

The window should be large enough for the signs to be easily viewed. Ideally, it should be at least 300 pixels wide and 200 pixels high.

Inserting sign language and subtitles in different formats

The insertion of sign language and subtitles can be done in different types of content.

The insertion of sign language and subtitles can be carried out in different types of audiovisual content, such as videos, films, series, lectures, classes, among others.

In the case of videos published on the internet, subtitles can be added using automatic subtitling tools. However, it is important to check the quality of the automatically generated subtitles, as they often contain errors.

In the case of professionally produced videos, it is recommended that sign language and subtitle insertion be carried out by qualified professionals, such as NearU Translations.

Benefits of sign language and subtitles

Sign language and subtitle insertion has many advantages for both hearing-impaired and non-hearing-impaired persons.

It ensures access to information and entertainment in their mother tongue for hearing-impaired people. This contributes to their social inclusion and autonomy.

For other people, it can be a way to get to know deaf culture and to be more inclusive.


The insertion of pounds and subtitles is a way to ensure accessibility of content for all. By following the best practices presented in this article, you can make your content accessible to the hearing impaired and, at the same time, win over new audiences. If you need help with this task, do not hesitate to contact us, we have experience in this area and good references.

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