National Association of the Deaf

A Sample Workshop: Captioning: Here, There and Everywhere



Led by Rosaline Crawford (NAD), Cheryl Heppner (CAN) and Claude Stout (TDI), the open forum was designed to be receptive; to ask what the working group’s priorities should be.

The first audience member discussed about how High Definition captioning is different on Standard Definition television programming.

Crawford encouraged him and others to file complaints on the fcc.gov website. Filling out a simple-to-use online form feeds data into a matrix. FCC uses this matrix to identify trends and investigates these issues accordingly. In the past, consumers contacted television providers or cable companies; now consumers are enabled to go directly to FCC with complaints. “Please report the HDTV captioning delay,” said Crawford.

Heppner added that she serves on the technical working group for the FCC. She and others recently submitted a complaint with the FCC reporting slow and unsatisfactory progress, and requested that issues be followed upon.

Phil “Judge” Jacob, an audience member, remarked that because captions frequently block the view especially during broadcasts of sporting games, he has the option to make captions transparent on his television set. Occasionally captions will move to the top of the screen, opening up the bottom screen portion. Jacobs requested that captions on internet videos should have the ability to be re-positioned.

A member from New Jersey described how local television stations’ efforts to caption are weaker. Heppner stated that FCC is asking for more complaints; with more data, the better they can follow up.

A movie-watcher from Mississippi shared her frustration when captions in white font is difficult to see when the movie screen is bright. Driving for miles, she often learned the movie actually isn’t captioned. Stout advised her to contact her state’s general attorney office. “Saying that as a taxpayer, you’re not receiving equal access in movie theaters.”

Another asked about how far voice recognition has come. Heppner replied that it’s still not where it needs to be. They are still receiving consumer complaints regarding voice recognition technology.

The last audience member explained how confused she was about where to file various complaints. For example, complaints with Netflix is not filed with the FCC. There are several different levels of government on both federal and local levels. Then there’s private businesses.

Crawford understood the concern. There is a page on NAD.org that helps decide where to file a complaint. The page is found here: http://www.nad.org/issues/about-law-and-advocacy-center/file-complaint

A surprise guest, Karen Peltz Strauss, recognized NAD’s ongoing efforts, “NAD is doing an extraordinary job helping people file grievances. The FCC wants to help you. File with the FCC if your complaint is television related.” Strauss announced a new registry of video programming distributors. “If your complaint is about a service provided by Comcast, Verizon, RCN, or the TV networks such as CBS, NBC, or ABC, go to the FCC site at fcc.gov.” A new website will be launching soon making it even easier. The FCC really wants people to use the registry. If you’re having problems or issues with television captions, please make a claim. Strauss can be reached at the email address: karen.strauss@fcc.gov

Added Stout, when placing complaint with private networks such as Netflix, carbon copy your communication to NAD or TDI so they can follow up. Stout mentioned a petition filed for “universal captioning” which covers all programming and devices. Included in the petition are clauses which removes FCC waivers for programming between 2:00 and 6:00 AM, and waivers for advertisers.

Concluding the open forum, Heppner emphasized an area that needs accessibility improvement: travel. Airplane and airport televisions are often not captioned. It is the working group’s hope that progress will parallel the speed at which media and technology is growing.

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