Saturday, June 2, 2012

Closed Captioning: Needed Just As Much for the Hard of Hearing As It Is for the Deaf

The statistics stand that nearly 2 to 4 out of every 1000 people in the United States are functionally deaf and about 9 to 22 people out of every 1000 are declared "hard of hearing." So, that means that it is approximately ten times higher to be born or attain partial hearing loss, a significant number when considered. There has been a huge push and pull between the entertainment industry and the government to have all video mediums available with options for closed captioning. It is already mandated to provide captioning for all television programming, but with new regulation this reaches out beyond television and onto the internet. The push back from the industry is beginning to lighten as the battle has been moving forward, and it's predicted that within the next few years closed captioning will become a standard for most, if not all, videos on the internet.

Now, it may seem hard to believe, but the first YouTube video was posted in 2005. Yes, you saw correctly. How does that have to do with closed captioning? The point is that if one of the Internet's largest video sharing sites wasn't even in existence until seven years ago and now is responsible for tens of millions of videos, just imagine the amount of captioning that would need to be done. Obviously, these regulations don't apply to the average YouTuber that posts videos of their cats or laughing babies, but it's quite the opposite for media giants like Fox, ABC, Netflix, etc. All their video content would have to provide closed captioning accessibility for Internet viewers that are deaf or hard of hearing.
Throughout the course of a day many of these media entities update their sites by posting videos. On a busy day, videos are uploaded almost on an hourly basis, and closed captioning would have to be provided on all that new content as well as the backlog. The good thing about this push for closed captioning is that the ever-increasing number of hard of hearing folks will have accessibility to news and entertainment on any platform they choose. And as the Internet keeps increasing its capacity for entertaining, the necessity will continue to grow.
Seems like it might not apply to the majority of young adults that use the internet these days, but they are the reason the push shouldn't lose its momentum. Take a second and give it a thought to whom exactly makes up the "deaf and hard of hearing" community. There's people from all forms of life and all different ages, from veterans, factory machine workers, to those with head injuries, tumors, and sufferers of otosclerosis, birth deformities, ear infections, measles, mumps, menieres, etc. And affecting young people especially is the obsession with loud music, even to the point where there is the incessant need to have bigger subwoofers and bigger and better speakers. Exposure to loud noise at such young ages and then continuing through to adulthood is damaging hearing to new generations of younger people.
It's a bit disheartening to know that a whole generation is doing it to themselves, however, if one cannot regulate the people's right to loud music, then something must be done to regulate the inevitable outcome. Closed captioning is a great and useful tool that should not be subjected just to one medium: the television. Technology has grown and evolved and therefore the purpose of closed captioning will change and evolve with it. With hearing loss spanning over multiple generations, most of which use the Internet as a daily tool, closed captioning on the Internet will be inevitable. If not because of regulations, it will be because of the increasing number of viewers who will only use sources that provide easy accessibility to them.
All of us experience some level of hearing loss whether it started when we were young or due to the natural progression of old age. In order to avoid significant levels of hearing loss, it's best to use ear protection when attending loud concerts or performing at concerts, lowering the volume, and even switching from ear buds to headphones. Wouldn't it be nice to enjoy music, good conversation, and your favorite TV shows/movies 20 years from now without the use of a hearing aid? Think about it. And if the threat of hearing loss still doesn't phase you, better start getting used to watching closed captioning.
Jenn Rogers is a senior caption editor for Video Caption Corporation, a company that offers high quality closed captioning. To learn more about the different types of captioning and how Video Caption Corporate can suit your captioning needs, please visit:

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