National Association of the Deaf

Captioning for Access



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The NAD strongly advocates for captioning of all audio and audiovisual information and material, regardless of distribution method.

Captioning is the process of converting the audio content of a television broadcast, webcast, film, video, CD-ROM, DVD, live event, or other productions into text and displaying the text on a screen, monitor, or other visual display system.  Captions not only display words as the textual equivalent of spoken dialogue or narration, but they also include speaker identification, sound effects, and music description.  It is important that the captions are:

  1. synchronized and appear at approximately the same time as the audio is delivered
  2. equivalent and equal in content to that of the audio, including speaker identification and sound effects
  3. accessible and readily available to those who need or want them

Captions must have sufficient size and contrast to ensure readability, and be timely, accurate, complete, and efficient.  When displayed, captions must be in the same line of sight as any corresponding visual information, such as a video, speaker, field of play, activity, or exhibition. 

Captioning makes audio and audiovisual material accessible and provides a critical link to communication, information, education, news, and entertainment for more than 36 million Americans who are deaf or hard of hearing.  For individuals with limited English proficiency and for English-language learners, English language captions improve comprehension and fluency.  Captions can also help to improve the literacy skills of children and adults alike.

Captioning provides access to information and communication across a wide spectrum of applications.  Here you will find general information about captioning and when captioning is required.  You will also find information about the NAD Described and Captioned Media Program, and about Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) services.

Related IssueTechnology

Recent NAD Action Highlights

  • Feldman v. Pro Football, Inc. – Deaf and hard of hearing Washington Redskins fans filed a complaint in 2006 in federal court.  After the complaint was filed, the defendants began to provide real-time captions on large displays located on the 50-yard lines of the FedEx Field stadium.  Before trial, both sides requested the court to decide the case in their favor.  On September 30, 2008, the court held that the ADA requires the Washington Redskins “to provide deaf and hard of hearing fans equal access to the aural information broadcast over the stadium bowl public address system at FedEx Field, which includes music with lyrics, play information, advertisements, referee calls, safety/emergency information, and other announcements.”  This victory is the first of its kind for a stadium, arena, or other large venue.  The judgment of the court became final.  The defendants filed an appeal and plaintiffs filed a cross-appeal.  This matter is now pending a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

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National Association of the Deaf | 8630 Fenton Street, Suite 820, Silver Spring, MD 20910-3819