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Deaf Resources: Closed Captioning

The process of displaying text messages on the television or a video screen or any other visual display is called closed captioning. The idea of closed captioning is to provide some additional information for the viewers who want to use this information for their purpose. In closed captioning technology, the transcript of the audio part is displayed, which is either a verbatim or an edited form. Sometimes, it includes non-speech elements as well. Closed captioning technology is proven to be beneficial to the hearing-disabled community. This came into existence in the year 1993 for the hearing-disabled community when the Federal Communications Commission made it mandatory to include a built-in decoder circuitry in television sets with 13 inch or larger screens for the purpose of displaying closed captioning. In the year 1996, the Congress made it mandatory for video programming distributors to provide the closed captioning of the programs which are to be aired. In July 2002, the Federal Communications Commission made it mandatory for digital TV service to include this feature as well.

The technology of closed captioning is very much beneficial for the deaf community. This is regarded as a bridge linking deaf individuals to the digital world so they have access to news, entertainment, and other information. Even though a person may have hearing problems, he can equally enjoy the program by reading the closed captioning that displays in-built decoder circuitry. In this way, they do not feel left out and handicapped by their physical challenge. They can switch on the closed captioning facility by remote control as well. There are two programming technologies involved in closed captioning, namely, English and Spanish language programming. Closed captioning is done by using a decoder or decoding software. The video is sent to the caption service companies. In turn, they run the video tape of the program into a legacy encoding hardware. However, this legacy hardware is expensive, making the caption a costly endeavor. Nowadays, eCaptioning is the alternate option, which is less costly. In this method, the captioning is done by using a software and the editors edit the captions that are not up to mark or unnecessary.

Here are a few communication channels where closed captioning is used.

Television & Video: This is one of the communication channels where closed captioning is extensively used. For the live programs that are being aired on television shows, the closed captioning is at the bottom. This is possible because the steno mask that is being worn by the human operator catch the soundtrack of the program. The soundtrack is then instantly transcribed into text and displayed on the screen. Sometimes, the closed captioning may lag a little behind real-time events. This incident mainly occurs in any live broadcasts like news, live sports events or live entertainment events.

CDs & DVDs: Nowadays many CDs and DVDs include closed captioning. These are embedded in the MPEG2 video format as the data packets. These data packets are saved in a folder named Video_TS. When the DVD is played, the player converts caption data to Line 21 format and the output is shown in the TV which is decoded by the built-in decoder of the player.

Movies: These days, many movie theatres show closed captioning in the movies. Other than the movie theaters, the movies that are aired on TV channels also display closed caption. Recently, it has become mandatory to display closed caption for the movies aired on TV.

Communication channels deploying closed captioning are being used in other channels such as video games, online videos, and theatres. Since its inception, the technology is evolving. During the early days, closed captioning used to be rendered using a machine which was very expensive, thus making the procedure costly. As technology improved, closed captioning also changed. At present, there are software and computers doing the job. This reduces both time and cost. You can get the software for both Windows and Mac operating systems. Soon, the time will come where closed captioning technology reaches every nook and corner of the world and hearing impaired individuals will reap the benefits of closed captioning technology.