Captions For People with Hearing Loss

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 12,037
    Barbara Kelley with the Hearing Loss Association of America discusses captioning and computer access for assistive listening devices.

    Barbara Kelley: Hi, I'm Barbara Kelley with the Hearing Loss Association of America. Today we'll talk about captioning which benefits millions of people other than those with hearing loss. Even with the best hearing technology available, many people still struggle to understand speech in movies, on television, or in streaming media on the Internet and mobile devices. Fortunately more of this content is now captioned.

    For many years, closed captioning has been offered for network and cable television broadcast. Some TVs have a CC button on the remote that will enable captions with a few clicks of the setup menu. When you enable the closed-captioned setting, this begins a stream of on-screen text that follows the dialogue of the broadcast.

    Captioning on TV also indicates ambient sounds on the soundtrack such as doors closing, dogs barking and background music. HDTV, HDMI devices and HDMI cables pose some challenges for configuring captioning, but most can be worked out.

    Before you buy any new TV, DVD or DVR or use HDMI cable or wire, check that the captioning works for all inputs. Also, be sure that your cable provider can make captioning work for all inputs before accepting any new set top boxes.

    Captioning is also available on an increasing amount of web-based media including news, streaming television programming, on-demand movies and even YouTube videos. Depending on the operating system and network data speed, you can even get captioning on some mobile devices like tablets or smart phones.

    As demand increases and technology improves expect to see more content captioned. Even movie theaters are getting on the captioning band wagon. A few different technologies exist to either project captions on a reflective panel into a small LCD screen right at your seat or on a running ticker under the screen or by wearing special glasses.

    Captioning is even available for live events at an increased rate. Trained professionals provide CART, otherwise known as Communication Access Real-Time Translation.

    Well trained and experienced CART writers using a computer with specialized real-time software and a stenotype machine can provide real-time captions for classrooms, corporate meetings and live theater, as well as other venues.

    As with all of these accommodations the key to more and better captioning is awareness and persistence. If you are called to serve on a jury, ask for captioning, if you feel you need it. If you are a college student, make the request for captioning through the disabled student services department.

    Hearing loss can pose many challenges. Fortunately, captioning is mandated by law so more people can understand in many venues even when simply enjoying a video on the Internet.