Subtitles by default

We’re having a debate about subtitles. To turn on by default or not.

We are designing a new elearning player. Looking at the paradigms from other types of media it appears that for TV and movies the default would be off until switched on and for social media some people have said switched on.

Any thoughts?

Good research topic! I would do a survey to be sure of it! the device of course has a meaning, phone it may be used on public transports where you don’t want to use the sound on, but on the TV you could easily switch it on if needed. I personally watch almost everything with subtitles, I don’t always read them, but as I am not mother-tongue english they help when there are different accents or whispering.

also I did some research in the past on accessibility and auto subtitles it’s pretty positive change for the future.


My thoughts for elearning specifically is to default to on. Designers/Developers often over estimate users’ language comprehension ability or treat it like a binary state. All of us exist on a scale of language comprehension with many things affecting that from our life, and our current context. For example, people with ADHD may need it on if in a moderately noisy/distracting environment. Combined with that you are specifically doing elearning, so you want to set up your users for immediate success with deep comprehension and the fact many users never change defaults, I would lean to CC being on. Regardless of the default, I would also make it dead simple obvious how to turn it off or on.

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