Almost 10 years after consumer groups filed a petition with the FCC requesting standards for caption quality, the FCC has acted. On February 20, at their Open Meeting the FCC voted unanimously to upgrade TV closed captioning quality.
According to the FCC:
Closed captioning displays the audio portion of a television program as text on the television screen.
It provides a critical link to news, entertainment, and other televised information for individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. For individuals whose native language is not English, English language captions improve comprehension and fluency.
Closed captions can be turned on or off via a television’s remote control device or on-screen menu. The FCC does not regulate captioning of home videos, DVDs, or video games.
On March 25, HLAA was represented at a panel discussing captioning quality and standards during the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) Midyear Conference in Baltimore, Md. Lise Hamlin, director of public policy at HLAA, joined consumer advocate and long time HLAA member, Joe Gordon, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) attorney-advisor at the Disability Rights Office, Consumer & Government Affairs Bureau, Elliot Greenwald, and AG Bell President Kathleen Treni to discuss caption quality issues and standards for captioning. The panel was moderated by NCRA Executive Director and CEO, Mark Golden.
Hearing Loss Association regularly receives emails from people complaining about television captioning. We’ve hear about delayed captions, captions that appear with letters dropping out, captions that are garbled or otherwise unreadable, and captions that are just plain full of errors. Captions that are not clear and easily read are not acceptable. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has oversight on broadcast, cable and satellite captioning, but they can’t know what’s going on unless we tell them. Make some noise! Inform your provider (your local broadcaster, cable or satellite company) about the problem first to give them a chance to fix it. If they do not solve the problem, be sure to let the FCC know. It’s up to all of us to keep the pressure on. No one else will do it for us.
Hearing Loss Association of America and Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Inc. representatives Lise Hamlin and Claude Stout were thrilled to be part of the Federal Communication’s digital television event focusing on captioning and targeting the community of deaf and hard of hearing people in North Carolina August 26. With over 50 consumers present as well as representatives from local broadcast stations, it was a great success. Thanks to a generous donation by Zenith, HLAA and TDI were there helping with a model presentation for other parts of the country as the digital television transition approaches.