In my novel, Lip Reader, young Sapphie Traylor receives a lesson in closed captioning technology.
"That expensive thing is a decoder box,” Aunt Jolene said to me. “Your uncle and cousin can’t hear well, so this box makes words go across the TV screen. It's called closed captioning."
I sat beside her. "So they can read the words?"
"Yep, when it works," she said.
"But sometimes the box gets too hot; all the words just scramble up. Makes your uncle crazy."
That’s the way closed captioning was during my book’s 1980s setting. Today’s TVs, outfitted with federally required captioning technology, provide much clearer captions. Pick a DVD, click on the subtitles, and enjoy flicks without hearing a word.
While captions help those of us with hearing loss better understand sound, we’re nowhere near a Closed Captioning Utopia.
What Others Have to Say about Captioning
Some of my blog readers sound off on their own captioning experiences...
“I went to see the play ‘Arabian Nights.’ Even through there were two ASL interpreters, I felt I did miss out on some. My dream is to have some sort of virtual captioning hovering above the performers' heads.” –Pamela
“I like to watch television without sound. I even watch musicals without sound. It's too much hard work trying to listen to TV with hearing aids. Ditto with movies. No captions = no watching!” –Tony
“Does anyone else notice that with DVR, rewinding a program will sometimes start the captioning? No captioning although it is indicated, then I rewind and in just seconds, the captions magically appear.” –Heidi
Are captions helpful? Absolutely. But those few bumps in the road need to be fixed.
I’m all for advocating to improve and increase captioning worldwide. Change starts when I refuse to just rant and rave on a blog, and educate folks who determine whether or not I enjoy a movie, concert, or live event. Captioning is a necessity, not a luxury. The technology is there—waiting to be refined, waiting to be used everywhere.
An Opportunity to Help
This fall, I invite you to participate in a campaign called Show Us the Captions! It is an effort to request captions at all local movie theaters. For information visit http://ccaccaptioning.org/.
Will you help me get the word out?
Follow me at http://LipreadingMom.com.
Ask Lipreading Mom
Shanna Groves was diagnosed with progressive hearing loss after the birth of her first child. She was 27. Raised in a hearing family, Shanna traces her hearing loss to a genetic loss on the paternal side of her family. She is mom to three young children, a published author, and speaker. Her books are featured at www.ShannaGroves.com. Shanna blogs about being a hard of hearing mom at http://LipreadingMom.com.