Closed Captioning: More Than a Nice-To-Have

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Access to closed captioning

It’s hard to deny that we often take our hearing for granted. Usually, it’s after we’ve experienced hearing loss that our eyes are opened to how many things in day-to-day life are designed with normal hearing in mind.

Take, for example, television and video.

While we’ve come a long with making this information and entertainment accessible for those with hearing loss with the help of closed captioning, the technology seems to be changing faster than the policies to keep it accessible for all hearing abilities.

Closed captioning availability

Chances are, whatever your hearing ability, you’re familiar with closed captioning. It provides a transcript of the audio, and occasionally details on the non-verbal elements, for audio and audiovisual pieces. You can generally find closed captioning for television and videos thanks to several existing regulations that cover these and many other audio and visual presentations available to the public.

What you may not be able to find are closed captions for online video. That’s right. Some of the biggest names in online video such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube and Facebook are not required to have closed captioning. Many users also report that when these videos are captioned, they are often inaccurate, incomplete and confusing.

To those with normal hearing, this may be a low priority, but advocates are now encouraging everyone turn down the sound and turn up their understanding of just how important closed captioning can be.

Life without the sound

Imagine for a minute, trying to watch a movie with your family with hearing loss. They are drawn into the action with the carefully written words and actors’ voice inflections, while you struggle and strain to catch the dialog so you can keep up.

Wouldn’t this leave you feeling left out?

Consider watching a YouTube video tutorial for that new home gadget, hobby or recipe. You try to follow the visual cues and what there is of captioning, but it’s inaccurate and incomplete, leaving you with a failed project.

Wouldn’t you feel frustrated, exhausted and defeated by the effort?

Hearing loss itself has been linked to anxiety, social isolation and depression, and that’s when things are accessible. Pair that hearing loss with the social isolation and frustration that can come from missing and inadequate closed captioning, and the effects are magnified.

As how we view media is changing, hearing healthcare professionals, advocates for the hearing impaired and deaf communities and family and friends of those with hearing loss are stepping up to fight for closed captioning across platforms. Closed captioning on television and video alone is no longer enough to ensure that everyone is supported.

It’s up to all of us to demand better for those living with hearing loss now and those expected to be diagnosed with hearing loss in the years to come. Chances are, if you aren’t already, you or someone you care about will be relying on the assistance of closed captioning someday.

Will closed captioning be available for you?

If you have questions about hearing loss and support available to those with hearing loss, contact our office to learn more.

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