The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

The Critical Role of Subtitles and Audio Description in Enhancing eLearning Effectiveness

Ann Marcus-Quinn, University of Limerick (Ireland)


The integration of subtitles and audio description in eLearning materials has become increasingly significant in the realm of digital education. This article explores the multifaceted benefits and importance of subtitles in eLearning, emphasizing their role in promoting inclusivity, enhancing comprehension, and facilitating global reach. Subtitles play a crucial role in making eLearning accessible to a diverse audience, including individuals with hearing impairments and non-native speakers. The inclusion of subtitles and audio description ensures that all learners, regardless of their auditory capabilities or language proficiency, have equal access to educational content (Marcus-Quinn, 2022; Marcus-Quinn and Hourigan 2022). This aspect of inclusivity not only aligns with universal design principles in education but also adheres to legal standards in many regions, ensuring that educational resources are accessible to all (Bengochea and Budia 2012). Research suggests that subtitles significantly enhance comprehension and retention of information as they provide visual reinforcement of spoken words, aiding in better understanding and memory retention (Goeman, De Grez, and Deschacht, 2021). This is particularly beneficial in complex subjects where terminology and concepts might be challenging to grasp through audio alone. Finally, this paper also highlights how the integration of subtitles in eLearning is aligned with the trend towards mobile learning. With an increasing number of learners accessing educational content on mobile devices, subtitles and audio description ensure that content is comprehensible even in settings where audio playback might be inconvenient or impractical (Kennette and Wilson, 2019). The incorporation of subtitles and audio description in digital education is not only a step towards inclusive education but also a strategic move to enhance the overall effectiveness and reach of eLearning content.

[1] Bengochea, L., & Budia, F. (2012). Subtitled video tutorials, an accessible teaching material. Journal of accessibility and design for all, 2(2), 155-164.

[2] Goeman, K., De Grez, L., & Deschacht, N. (2021). Fostering learning from instructional video: Effect of subtitle language on content recall. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 30(3), 233-255.
[3] Kennette, L. N., & Wilson, N. A. (2019). Universal design for learning (UDL): Student and faculty perceptions. Journal of Effective Teaching in Higher Education, 2(1), 1-26.
[4] Marcus-Quinn, A. (2022). The EU Accessibility Act and Web Accessibility Directive and the implications for Digital Teaching and Learning Materials. Routledge Open Research, 1, 30.
[5] Marcus-Quinn, A., & Hourigan, T. (2022). Digital inclusion and accessibility considerations in digital teaching and learning materials for the second-level classroom. Irish Educational Studies, 41(1), 161-169.

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