Closed Captioned TV….

Continuing on with tools that help me and other deaf people coupe in the hearing world this post will cover closed captioning. When I went deaf in 1988 there only about 10% of the television coverage was closed captioned. That meant that I was pretty shut out of TV.  And even for that 10% I had to order an external closed captioning unit for my TV as the hardware was not standard at that time. The captioning unit costs almost as much as the TV and due to some technical matters the degree of accuracy of the captioning varied widely. Some of it was just not readable!

But maybe I am getting ahead of myself here as some of you might not even know what closed captioning is. Closed captioning is where all of the sounds and words on a TV program are spelled out in text somewhere on the screen. Many hearing people use it today so that they can turn off the sound and still watch TV. Of course this is usually so that their hubby can get to sleep without the noise.

Fortunately as the years went on captioning became more and more available. The main reason for that was the Americans with Disabilities Act signed in congress in 1990. It mandated that by 1994 all television would include a captioning chip (about a $5 cost whereas I paid over $200 for the external box). It also gave requirements as to what was captioned and how long it would take before all TV was captioned. I am a somewhat realist and realize that without this law TV would have probably been inaccessible to the 10 million or so of us that depend on captioning as it is today. Private businesses just don’t deem that number of people worth doing much extra for.

Fast forward to today and just about all programs are now captioned and of course all TVs made since 1994 have the ability to pick up that signal. But the quality of captioning on some of the networks is somewhat substandard. One of those cable/satellite channels has been the Hallmark channel. When they started up they waited until the last possible minute to legally bring up captions and it seems that they tend go to the vendor of lowest cost to get their original content captioned. I had always had a respect for the company but due to this experience I learned that they are pretty much the same as everyone else when it comes to profit verses service performance.

Anyway, thanks to the ADA act I can pretty much watch TV the same as everyone else. The only challenge I seem to have in the area is when we travel and come across hotels that have not replaced their TV inventory in the last sixteen years. But that is another story

And yet another story is with the increase use of video on the internet I am again beginning to feel left out as almost none of the videos are currently captioned. I guess I will have to wait for congress to regulate internet videos for that to happen. But of course with the extreme partisan gridlock that has taken those folks over it might be years before they can agree to act on this matter or anything else!

And the journey goes on….

2 thoughts on “Closed Captioned TV….

  1. I too am very grateful for the increase in closed captioning on TV since the early 1990s when I first started to use them. It has had such a positive influence on my life. With regards to the internet and the captioning of videos – this is now USlaw – how to regulate it I don’t know but it is good that You Tube offer the service of automated captioning (though its accuracy is not brilliant I am hopeful like most technology it will improve). The point is, it is there. And I hope more and more people realise the benefit in providing closed captioning for videos whatever media format it is in.


  2. Thanks for the info on captioning videos. Yeah I was aware of the You Tube thing but as you say it’s accuracy is not very reliable. I think it relies pretty much on the speech to text tools around right now. Without speaker training of the tool it just can’t do the job. I suspect even though the bill you mentioned made it through the house so easily it will probably have to be re-submitted next year. The Republicans in the Senate are of the mind to block everything this year irregardless of it’s value or need.


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