Closed Captions for the Hearing Impaired

courtesy of all rights reserved - Jack Foley created the "CC in a TV" symbol while senior graphic designer at WGBH.

We never really truly appreciated closed captioning until … we had children.  After our oldest child turned two, we realized we could not hear anything on TV- the news, the State of the Union, movie dialogue, sitcoms, etc., much less hear ourselves think.  So, we turned to what most parents turn to- closed captioning for the hearing impaired.  It’s awesome!  I am not saying it is great to be hearing impaired nor am I comparing myself to someone with a disability but I am thankful that a tool like captioning is available.  And, it’s made available to all of us, not just for those who have a disability requiring it.  Even DVDs have the subtitle feature and yes, you can even pick English.  It’s also a great tool for learning languages, brushing up on your English, Spanish or French, and if you are watching a Bollywood movie, Hindi, Arabic, or other languages as well.  For us, closed captioning and subtitles are just perfect because we have energetic kids that scream, yell, “sing” (notice this is in quotes), cry, and just talk so loud  we cannot hear Alex Trebec state the answer on Jeopardy!(c).   Instead of doing all of this activity in a toy room, or play area set-up for them, they will undoubtedly do it right in your ear, or in the general vicinity of what you are watching and trying to listen to because simply put, they want to spend time with you. What better way to do that then be close to you when making the sounds/screams/noises or straight up crying?

For us, we never thought we’d use closed captioning.  I always found it annoying when my parents kept it on because they couldn’t understand some American slang or strange words or accents.  For my parents, English was not their first or second language.  Now, two kids later, I cannot imagine watching a movie, a show, or anything for that matter (including commercials) without captions or subtitles.  When I go see movies in the theater with my husband, I initially feel absolutely lost without captions.  I am like, “where are they?! What did he say?  Did he say Hello? OMG- I am not gonna make it- why did I pay $9.00 for this- I should have waited to rent it.”  Eventually, like 40 minutes in, I get used to the lack of captions and finally understand the actor’s accent and start following along.  By this time, the woman next to me has also stopped crunching on her popcorn, or tearing open her bag of chips too, or shaking her ice around.  But, really, would it hurt the movie theater to throw in subtitles for those of us who are hearing impaired- not officially but in theory?  Come on – just for the first 30 minutes or so?

Tell us what you do, parents- do you keep the captions on or your TV on or off?  What if you have to watch a movie when the kids are sleeping and need to keep the volume low?  I am curious.  Am I the only parent with this addiction and love of captions and subtitles?

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