Letters to the Editor

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TV: Closed captioning still in the dark ages

Letter by Debra L. Walston, Puyallup on Jan. 24, 2014 at 11:16 am with No Comments »
January 24, 2014 12:42 pm

Seahawk player Derrick Coleman’s story has received a lot of attention lately. He’s the first deaf offensive player in the NFL. Hopefully, one of the positive things to come out of the telling of his story is that local TV stations and the networks make improvements to the closed captioning for the hearing impaired on television.

If you’re watching a TV show or movie that is scripted and obviously prerecorded, the closed captioning is not a problem. However, try watching news, sports, morning talk shows – essentially anything that is live TV.

One of the problems is the placement of the closed captioning on the screen, which often scrolls on top of graphics. Another problem is spelling. Words are often so mangled that by the time you figure out what the word should be in the context of what is being said you might as well forget it because it’s all scrolled by you anyway.

While I can completely understand the difficulty of typing as fast as the spoken word, whole sections of the spoken word just get completely left out. So understanding the news storyline can be a challenge.

It just seems like with all the technology available, closed captioning is in the dark ages. Perhaps improvements can get a jump start by having the programmers responsible for closed captioning being made to sit in a room watching live TV with the sound turned off, having to depend on the closed captioning to understand what they’re watching.

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