Who knew there were so many ways for captioning to go wrong. From the brand and style of television to the station forgetting to turn them on. In this episode we talk to you about our experiences with live and pre-recorded captions.
During the podcast Michele Linder talks about the act that enforced closed caption compliance but could not remember the name. It was 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA).
Do you have a favorite channel but struggle with poor or no captioning? Join us at hearinglosslive.com and you can pick up a trick or two. Or let us know how you solved an issue with captioning.
Have you signed up for Conquering your Next Family Gathering? Follow this link and sign up today at Hearing Loss LIVE!
Hearing Loss LIVE! talks caption advocacy.
Julia: Good morning. Welcome to Hearing Loss LIVE! Where we're going to talk to you today about captioning. More specifically broadcast captioning, which is a little different than CART or live captions. A lot of times broadcast captioning happens behind the scenes. If you're watching a television show that's been prerecorded, that is a prerecorded closed caption program. If you're watching live news, I hope they are using a live steno writer to give you more accurate and up to speed captioning on that program. There's a lot of rules around captioning and how it works. And there's a lot of ways captions go bad on TV. It can start with the brand a TV you have, right down to the teleprompter, not knowing the captions aren't coming out correctly. So we're going to share some experiences on how you can request better captioning access when it's closed caption or broadcast captioning. Michele Linder, can you start us off and talk about your experiences behind the scenes with captioning?
Michele: Thanks Julia, I'm always happy to talk about captioning advocacy. You know, I didn't really know that I could advocate for things that I needed for the longest time. And when I started connecting with others with hearing loss, I really started to own my hearing loss and ask for what I needed. And I started out very simply, and sometimes I even ask for captioning when I really didn't need it. I just would ask for it for practice. Like if I was in a sports bar, or a hotel lobby, or even my audiologist office where there was a public television and the captioning wasn't turned on, I would ask them to please turn on the captioning. Even if I wasn't interested in watching what was on TV because I figured if I needed the practice, they probably also needed the practice. And from there, I kind of blossomed into contacting my TV stations or networks. I, we haven't done brod, broadcast TV for a long time. So a lot of what I watch is live streaming on my computer. And I just got into the habit of contacting stations and networks. And again, I'm gonna mention that when I interviewed Lauren Stork, of CCAC Captioning, I really had a shift where I realized I was one of those people who wasn't asking for what I need. And there are very few of us who do. And so I wanted to be part of the solution. So I really took that to heart and started asking for captioning. Wherever I was left out something that I wanted to participate in, or I wanted to know what was being said. And you know, a lot of a lot of the online content with live streaming, like you know, the major networks, NBC, CBS, they actually have a link on their website that is a closed captioning link and where you can give feedback and tell them where the problems exist. And they're usually very good to respond. I did one time have to file an FCC complaint. And when it came back what I was asking to have captioning on pre-dated that 20th century, I can't remember the name of it, but the Act that made online content responsible for having to have captions. So I learned a lot in the process. And I also joined some captioning advocacy groups, and it's a great place to network with other people who are trying to do the same things that you're doing. And but again, I'm going to mention that, you know, it's a pretty sad fact that the majority of people with hearing loss, they don't take the time to advocate. They think, okay, I'm not qualified enough or I don't know enough about it. Or they might ask one time and they accept no response for an answer. So I think probably the most important thing for me and captioning advocacy is persistence and do it every time. And we all know what that feels like, you come up on some content that you're really interested, you're excited, you open the video or the podcast, and there are no captions and that just feeling of letdown of being left out, it's just, you know, some days when I'm having a really bad day, it makes me cry. Because I just really want to just be able to turn something on like everybody else. Um, so that's another the last thing I'm gonna mention is, think about radio and podcasts. I've advocated for radio captions, and on some of the NPR, radio programs are captioned and some of the radio broadcasts out of Boston are captioned. But it's never going to be mainstream unless all of us start asking because if they go by the requests that they get, they're going to say, well not many people are going to benefit from this, because nobody ever asked for. And we need to kind of change that. So I really want to encourage people to ask for captioning because it's our language is the language we speak.
Julia: Thank you, Michele. You know, it's funny, because I'm gonna throw in athing and then I want to send to Chelle, but last night, I have a guilty pleasure. I like The Voice. It's singing competition. And my husband actually watches it with me. And we noticed last night the captions were so far ahead of what the content was. That when, and he has he depends a little bit on the captions, he's not admitting yet. But he depends on it. He's like, what's that girl's name? That doesn't make any sense with what's being said. And so we had a conversation about, yeah, this is poorly done, I need to, I need to get a hold of the network and report it again this year. It happened last year, too. And, and he says "why? they don't care." And I'm like, that's the attitude that lets the stations not care. If you and I both write in, and it doesn't get fixed, and we file complaints with the FCC about it. That's gonna make inclusion happen. That's when they're gonna step up their game. So that was interesting. So yeah, that thought just I'd forgotten about it. And that was just last night. Michele.
Michele: I just wanted to add one thing, real quick, text on the screen doesn't constitute captioning. It has to be accurate. And so you know, a lot of people will say, well, you know, they attempted to put it up there, you know. But now you need to make sure it's quality captioning, because it doesn't benefit us if it's not quality. And that means verbatim, it also means all the extra information that we need and text. And it means the timing. How many times have you watched a video where the timings off and you're trying to watch the speaker and you just kind of can't ever mesh the two together and it's, it's frustrating, I find myself turning the TV off when that happens. So we have to insist on quality.
Julia: Exactly, Chelle?
Chelle: Yes, Michele just mentioned something. And you know, that really boggles my mind when captions don't match what people are saying at the same time. If they're too far off, it's like my brain just totally stops, and I can't handle it. It's, I'll try like recently I did that. And I tried again. And I was like, I CAN do this. And I was like, I can't it doesn't match what I'm seeing. So the brain just quits right there. So captioning on TV. You know, I have to confess I don't watch a lot of TV. Hardly ever. I almost always when I do watch TV, it's because my husband is watching something. And that's when I noticed the captions are not right or missing. And I'll make a complaint. But TV is not my thing [laughing]. I remember when Netflix came out, and their, their streaming product didn't have any captions. I could not participate and it felt so unfair. But I also knew at the same time that I finally did go into Netflix, that they were being sued for captions by a couple of different organizations. So I knew it would come around eventually. In the meantime, I was ordering movies on DVDs, because DVDs almost always have captions, some, some don't. And I think it's like Michele said, It predates the, the Act that they password captioning was a must. So eventually, you know, captions came on the streaming and we canceled the DVD. And it's really nice to have that option. And I, I've been on other streaming devices. Disney plus. Oh, that is really hard to get the caption in on. I was like, I had to google it because it wasn't very evident. And finally I saw it and turned it on. And it doesn't stay on yet all the time. So I need to write into Disney and say, is there a way you can make it stay on once, once I click the CC. The other day I was doing, trying to watch Corella, the new Corolla de Ville movie. I had to do captions three times before it came on. So this is something I need to follow up with Disney plus, because it's frustrating. And if I wasn't so persistent, I wouldn't have gotten it, and given up. So there's probably a lot of people out there who are giving up on it because it's, it's not automatic. So, Michele has been a big inspiration for me on advocating for captions. I, like I said, I don't watch TV, hardly ever, but I do watch streaming. I watch movies. And when I was, when I run across things online, with video, with certain people I followed, there wouldn't be no captions,and I would just out of habit just turn away, you know, I would go on about my business and do something else. I wasn't watching videos, probably ever. So Michele inspired me and I started to write into people, you know, I would love to participate. But I can't, you know, I know you have a good message. You don't have captions. I'm not getting it, can you please find a way to turn on captions or use captions. And I've had a favorable, favorable response for that. People, most of the time, not always, have given me captions. On the flip side, when I do see people with captions, that I didn't ask to turn on captions, and they have it there already. I'm like, Hey, thank you shout out for the great captions, it really makes a difference for me. And let's see what else is on my list. Oh, I just had somebody contact me this week to start a petition or help petition for open captions in Utah. I need more follow through on this but I'm teamed up with another lady here in Utah, and we might be trying to start an open caption thing in our city. This is pushing myself, my comfort zone, okay? Because this means going up to the legislative level level. And even though I've been there a few times, it's still kind of nerve wracking to to take these steps, but I will let you guys know, as I follow this path, how it goes.
Julia: Sorry, I got to turn all my sound on. That is awesome. I'm thinking you're thinking like public venues of all sorts with transportation. That's just that's so needed. The airport is desperately needed. It would be so nice to have that all open captioned. I want to share some experiences we had with the pandemic and emergency broadcast programs that we had on our news stations. And at the point that point Chelle and I both were working with the Division of Services to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and kudos to the to the Deaf interpreters and Trenton Marsh who runs our interpreting program. They, they got in there with interpreters to stand by the governor, make sure there was an ASL interpretation for all the stations, train the stations on what to cut to because they kept cutting the interpreters off when they were videotaping. But the hard of hearing program we thought, let's find out you know how the captions are going and guess what? Some stations had none. Some had great captioning. And at one point we got a letter to our Hearing Loss Association of Salt Lake City. Asking, well we have sign language interpreters? What's the importance of us offering live captions? I can understand Trenton fairly well, I do very, very pigeon language sign language, and I can understand most of what Trenton signs or one of his counterparts because I've been around them for a while. But if I had to depend on the sign language interpreter to find out what's going on with COVID-19 I wouldn't know what to do. That's not fair. That's not equal access, it should be inclusive access. The other thing because this prompted us to do some presentations at the Center, around captioning and CART, man is there a lot of ways that cart can go wrong, or captions, excuse me, you know, a lot of times and this is my own family complain about, like sports programs being poorly captioned. And some of them are, and there's some problems. And if you're not reporting it, again, that's a problem because that station doesn't think they need to hold the standard. But it's not always the live captioner. It can be that the captions aren't feeding correctly from the teleprompter, it can actually be your TV, there's a chip that makes captioning happen, closed captions happen on a TV. And there's no standards for this chip. So the chip can be Samsung can have five different kinds of TVs, and every TV has a different chip. So I always tell people research, find out what your friends like with their TV. Best Buy sometimes actually has a blurb that says I depend on closed captions, this TV is great. I found that when I was researching for this project. Sometimes if you're in a watching a live program, if you can figure out how to get ahold of that station, try it. It may be the teleprompter needs to walk over here, the guy that runs it, oh, I didn't flip the switch on. And then you're fine. But if we don't work together, it's not going to get better. And the larger stations have found they save a lot of money using AI. So a lot of the live captioning anymore is not done by real stenographers. It's actually done by artificial intelligence. And if someone isn't, which is fine, but if you don't have somebody editing what's coming out, it might be good, it might not. In fact, here locally, the station using the AI for their news station is the best I think we have. It's pretty accurate and spot on. And it's very seldom wrong. One of the issues I have with one of our stations, they think it's okay to take an earlier broadcast captions and run it at the noon time which is they're slow, there's a whole bunch of rules about when, how much captioning you have to have to- I won't go into but they'll like run it with their noon captions. So here's this whole other anchor giving the weather and nothing matches. Like what he's talking about, what's coming out of the stream. And it's like, That's not right. That's not inclusive. It just drives me crazy. Okay, that's my rant for the day. Michele.
Michele: Another thing I wanted to mention is, which I briefly mentioned that when you have to ask for the captions to be turned on in an audiologist office, that's pretty bad or a Deaf/Hard of Hearing Center. That's pretty bad. But there's a lot of irony in captioning. A lot of times I will see, because I share content on the SayWhatClub website on their public Facebook page. There will be news stories that have a hearing loss related topic. And I'll click on them and there's no captioning. And so immediately, I leave a comment on the video. I also have good luck because usually television stations have Facebook pages. And so I message those stations and a lot of times I'll get an immediate response by Facebook, private messaging, and so you know, also on YouTube videos you can contact them through their YouTube account. There are many ways to contact people where you can get responses, and you know, sometimes you won't get a response. But that's changed a lot from when I started over 11 years ago, I most often get a response. It's not always the response I want, but I can work with them. And I can find a way to tell them in a very nice way, thank you for what you attempted. It's just not good enough. And here's why. And here's what you can do. And that's what the benefit is of belonging to a captioning advocacy group, because there are other people doing the same things you're doing, you don't have to reinvent the wheel. And you know, a lot of people with hearing loss probably think it takes so much time to advocate for captioning. And at first it does. But when you get into the routine routine of doing it every time, you can actually save some of your correspondence as a template for something similar. You don't have to start from scratch every time. And it's just as automatic, okay, I want to watch this video or a TV show and the captionings really bad or there's none at all. I'm going to send this off, it takes just a few minutes, and you're done. And of course, you have to follow up for the answer. But one thing that Julia mentions in the blog post about this subject is that Be sure to say thank you don't let it all be bad news. And it's not bad news. I mean, a lot of people think that requesting something, or or asking is a complaining and it's not complaining. It's just asking to have access the same way that everyone else does. And so probably the beginning of captioning advocacy starts when you make that attitude shift. When you think okay, I'm not being bothersome, I'm just asking for what everybody else gets automatically. So that's kind of the last thoughts I had on it. Sorry to talk so much today.
Julia: Great information [tongue roll]. Great information. Michele, you really do help us with caption advocacy. I look forward to doing a workshop with you on that. Chelle, any last thoughts?
Chelle: Yeah, I do have a couple. And that is one thing I wish I had done as the hard of hearing specialists was to teach people how to request proper captioning, you know, go to the TV station and try it with them. And if it doesn't work out there, you can take it to the Federal Communications Commission. And we put a link on our blog where you can go to that complaint page, and it has different categories in which you can ask for captioning. And I, like I said, I hate to say complain. It's a request. We're requesting equal communication is what we are. So just think of it as a request. The other thing I have a question for Julia, kind of in the captioning, and this came up while we were talking, one of the few TV shows I watch is Saturday Night Live. That's my one guilty pleasure. And as I watch it, the captions are so far behind. And I don't know if that's really a legit claim, because it can be awfully hard to follow these people in a live process. So I have never complained about them. What I do is I have a living room loop, which is a wire that goes around we have it on the ceiling because it didn't work on the floor, and I turned my hearing aid telecoils on and I can hear the the audio better. But also Saturday Night Live faces me a lot so I can follow with lip reading and what I'm hearing better than I can with caption. What is your thoughts on that, Julia?
Julia: It's interesting, because I agree with you. And I do think some of it's because it's so live and off the cuff. But I question it may be a matter of editing so that it's very, very accurate. But that would be a good question to go straight to NBC and say, Hey, I noticed on Saturday Night Live, there's this lag. Can you explain to me why it's so far behind so that I can understand what I can give you guys to do to help me better follow the captions. That's how I would approach it and see what their response is. Because I've noticed it too, so it's not your TV. The Disney+ I thought was interesting because I have great captions on my Disney+. So isn't that interesting, right? Um, so that's a good one. That would be again, I you know, why does it keep doing it? And then maybe you can go to your TV manufacturer and say, why is this happening, they might even be able to help you there. I find Disney+ ones funny because the little chipmunks when you watch the old cartoons. It's crazy what they put in there for captioning it. I know, it's not what they're saying. I think they're doing it just to see if we catch it. Michele.
Michele: I just wanted to chime in and say, uniformity is really needed. That would be so great if we could get a real uniform standard. I mean, it can't be this difficult. I mean, gosh, look at all the technology look at what we can do now. Surely, there could be some standard that everyone has to adhere to the same standards and I think that's a huge need.
Julia: button wouldn't turn. Thank you, Michele. I agree. Right? And that question if better standards wouldn't happen if people just not complained but said this doesn't work. Would it, would it stop manufacturers from putting three different kinds of TV chips in their TV and, and and how that would look and I agree with you. I hope this helps some of you out there to look for ways to get a hold of those stations you want to watch and get better broadcast captioning. If you have a station that you want to give a shout out to let us know drop us a line at hearinglosslive.com. We'd love to know what stations even locally are working better for you. If you have questions and want help on how to maybe navigated a station, local or broadcast national, you'd like to learn to work better with come to us or go to fcc.gov, again, the link is in our in our blog, and research what you can help with. They actually have advisory councils you can join and help advocate for better captioning outcomes across you know TVs, cell phones, the whole works. Next week, we talk shame. We hope to help you understand whether you're in shame right now with your hearing loss or you've, you've conquered it and talk candidly about how not to have shame with hearing loss or move forward after you've had it. Also, I hope you've signed up for our Conquering Your Next Family Gathering those holidays are right around the corner. Whether it's on zoom you're going to meet with your family or get to meet in person. Maybe. We want to help you conquer those fears with hearing loss and have better outcomes. And just around the corner we're going to give you some HoH, HoH, HoH gifts. Yep, that's Hard of Hearing gifts. Look for that workshop to come out in December. And we're going to help you with communication and assistive listening devices. Watch for that workshop coming on up. Thank you for joining us here at Hearing Loss LIVE! Give us your feedback, your comments. We appreciate your support, and we hope to help you help yourself with your hearing loss. Bye. Julia: Join us next week when Hearing Loss LIVE! talks Shame.