Difference Between SDH Subtitles and CC

By: | Updated: Jan-18, 2023
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Subtitles and closed captions (CC) are both ways of displaying text on a television or computer screen to allow viewers to follow the dialogue in a program. While they may seem similar, there are several key differences between SDH subtitles and CC that make them better suited for different types of programming. Understanding these differences can help you choose the right type of subtitle/captioning solution for your project.

In this article, we will explore what sets SDH subtitles and CC apart from one another, as well as how each should be used in different contexts.

Difference Between SDH Subtitles and CC

What SDH Subtitles Are?

SDH (Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing) subtitles are designed to help viewers with hearing impairments follow along with dialogue in a program. They generally contain a transcription of the entire dialogue as well as any additional information that may be useful to viewers, such as sound effects or speaker identification. SDH subtitles also provide viewers with a greater level of accessibility than traditional subtitles, as they are designed to be more descriptive and easier to read.

What CC is?

Closed captions, or CC, are similar to subtitles in that they provide a transcription of the dialogue and any additional information in a program. However, closed captions take things a step further by providing viewers with visual cues to help them better understand what is happening on-screen.

For example, CC can include symbols such as brackets or italics to denote when a character is speaking, or arrows pointing to indicate the direction of on-screen action. This can be especially helpful for viewers who may have difficulty understanding speech patterns and accents or are simply new to a language.

Differences between SDH Subtitles and CC

Their Purpose

The primary difference between SDH subtitles and CC is their purpose. Subtitles are designed to provide a translation of the spoken dialogue in a program, while closed captions aim to make a program accessible to people with hearing impairments by providing written descriptions of all audio content, including music and sound effects.

Speed vs Info

SDH subtitles are also typically written to be read at a faster pace than CC since the goal is to be able to keep up with the spoken dialogue. This means that SDH subtitles tend to contain less information than closed captions, and may omit minor details such as background conversation. On the other hand, CC must include all audio content for viewers with hearing impairments to be able to understand what is going on.

Entertainment vs Educational

In addition, SDH subtitles are typically used for entertainment programs such as movies and television shows, while CC is generally used for educational or informational content such as lectures and business presentations. This means that if your project requires captions in multiple languages, then SDH subtitles will likely be the better option.

Created in Advance vs Generated in Real-time

Moreover, SDH subtitles are usually created in advance of a program airing, while CC can be generated in real-time to match the spoken dialogue. This makes CC better suited for live broadcasts and other types of programming with rapidly changing audio content.

Encoded Differently

SDH and closed captions are encoded distinctively. While closed captions are structured as a sequence of instructions, control codes, and text messages, SDH is frequently formulated as bitmap images or arrays of minute points or pixels.

White Text on a Black Backdrop vs Various Colors

Closed captions are traditionally displayed as white text on a black backdrop that can be in any area of the screen. In comparison, SDH is typically situated at the bottom third of the monitor and may range from various colors.

Supported vs Not Supported by HDMI

SDH captions can appear in a variety of media formats, like streaming videos and Blu-Rays—all because HDMI does not provide support for closed captioning. On the other hand, it is compatible with both regular subtitles as well as SDH.

Which One Should You Choose?

Ultimately, the choice between SDH subtitles and CC will depend on your project. If you are looking for translation services for an entertainment program, then SDH subtitles are the best option. However, if your project requires captions that provide a full transcription of all audio content, then closed captions are the way to go.

Furthermore, if you need captions for a live broadcast or presentation, then CC is your best bet since it can be generated in real-time. Keep in mind that both SDH subtitles and CC can be beneficial for making your project more accessible according to WCAG and therefore, to people with hearing impairments.


In conclusion, SDH subtitles and CC are both methods of providing viewers with a transcription of the dialogue in a program. However, there are several key differences between the two, including their purpose, speed vs. information, entertainment vs. educational use, how they are created and encoded, and the way they are displayed. Ultimately, it is important to consider these factors when deciding which type of captioning is best suited for your project.

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