Open or closed captions anyone? It’s over 6 month’s into my new role managing Bromford’s social media. Here’s some of the things I’ve learnt. And spoiler alert, it’s about accessibility…


Public sector bodies in the UK need to meet an accessibility standard. And when you think about it, that’s a whole load of assets.

It’s everything from pdfs, intranets and social media.

The organisation I work with, Bromford, have committed to meeting accessibility regulations. Public sector or not, good accessibility is just about content that’s easy for people and machines to understand. This means that yes, it’s more understandable, but also gives things like:

  1. Better reach
  2. Better engagement
  3. Better SEO

So, where does this leave us in terms of social media? Well it covers things like alt text, type faces in video and the layout of posts. But for this blog we’re going to look at these 2 points:

  • Writing the post (including #s)
  • Subtitles (in video)


A page from the style guide

The Style Guide I created helps us to keep things consistent

On social media, we keep it as close to the civil service as we can. The Government wrote the laws around accessibility, so it goes without saying that the Civil Service interpret these really well. So for my work, I ask, as do they.

  • Is it understandable to a 9 year old?

The “is it understandable to a 9 year old” thing is really handy. Not only does it make us consider the words we use, it also helps us consider sentence complexity and length. The interesting bit’s then keeping this on brand.

  • Does it use line breaks between copy, url and hashtags?
  • Does it use Title Case for hashtags?


Ok so there’s 2 ways of doing subtitles;

  • Closed captions – Where a text file with words and timings is overlaid by the app or broadcaster
  • Open captions – Where the footage has the subtitles burnt onto it

Each one has pros and cons. When I first joined Bromford, I tried Open Captions for a few months. They were always there, burnt onto the footage which causes some issues:

  • When it’s a small screen, the user can’t make Open Captions bigger, turn them off or change the colour
  • Apps like Facebook can automatically generate their own caption files. When this happens, you end up with 2 sets of subtitles. It looks pants and certainly isn’t accessible
  • Not good for SEO – Open Captions are not readable by machines

So the alternative, Closed Captions, stop some of these issues and a lot of the time, are now turned on by default.

If you use Premiere Pro for editing, there’s a really helpful captions feature. Enjoy 🙂

So in conclusion, I’d say it goes back to thinking about our audience. If we can do something that makes it easier for an audience to engage with our content, then as a result, we’ll get more engagement.


  • Bromford logo