Category Archives: Captioning

Why I Like Options

Options, to me, open doors. My father used this analogy once: the more options you have, the more doors available (i.e. opportunities) but you kind of have to make sure you have access options through preparation. Well he didn’t say that exactly, but that’s what I took from it.

The Inauguration was like that for me in a couple of ways. We were planning to watch it at work and I spent a couple of days trying to find it captioned. The tricky part was to find it live streamed since we don’t have TV. I was really happy that I was able to find this opportunity. I e-mailed the link to my IT guy and we were ready to go. Then the night before I noted another link that was being passed around for the Inauguration in ASL. I already had a plan so I didn’t think much of it. Come Inauguration morning, I noticed that we were having issues with the Internet. We couldn’t get on the Web site that had the captions due to the enormous amount of traffic! We tried and tried, but without success. So I told my IT guy to find it live streamed on another Web site and I would try the link with ASL. Success! I was able to watch Obama’s speech live in ASL. I was so thankful that I knew ASL, or this opportunity would not have been available to me and I would have missed it.

After the speech, I went back to my office. I had a lot to work on! I took off my hearing aid but left my Cochlear Implant on. I do this sometimes to give my ears some rest. It’s hard work trying to hear all of the time! After awhile, I realized I was hearing, with just my cochlear implant, the end of the National Anthem from three office doors down the hallway! That is amazing, I don’t think I could recognize that with my hearing aid.

I think it’s amazing what you can do with a little awareness, a skill or a tool. Something to think about and expand on.

Closed/Open Captions, Subtitles and Rear-Window Captioning

I thought I would take the opportunity to explain, with my very basic knowledge, the differences between the types of captioning.

Closed captions and subtitles are used with your regular at home TV/VHS player/DVD player. Closed captions are produced with your TV decoder. Most TVs now days have decoders in them, but if you do not have one already built in, you can purchase them to attach to the television. Closed captions have the capability of being turned on or off anywhere in the program by using your TV remote. Usually what happens is while the TV show is going on, it is sending some sort of signal to your decoder that then translates it into captions. If something were breaking news, then the news station would generally hire a captionist.

Open captions and subtitles are often confused because they are very similar. I like to think of open captions as the type you see at the movies theaters and subtitles as the type you find on your DVD. Although, curiously enough, if you go to a foreign film the translation is often called subtitles.

The way I understood open captions at the movie theaters was that they use two different reels, one for the movie and one for the captions and some how place them together to produce the desired effect. I could be totally off base with this. However, the general idea is that if you go to see an open caption movie, you can’t very well turn them off whenever you like.

Subtitles are generally “etched” into the DVD or foreign film. You can turn them off at home by going to the menu and changing that option, but not at the movie theater. For a DVD movie, I wonder if there are actually two versions of the movie on the DVD, one with subtitles and one without? If so, the reason why the subtitles are called subtitles on both a DVD and a foreign film would make sense. You can also see why subtitles and open captions are very similar.

Rear-window captioning is my least favorite. The reason why is because the person has to borrow a “flag” (as I like to call them) from the front desk. It is basically a bendable stick that goes in your drink holder and has a see-through mirror at the top. It often makes me feel like the woman in the “Scarlet Letter” when I have to walk around the theater with that thing (hence the “flag” nickname… you’re flagging people to let them know you’re deaf!). When you get all comfy in your seat and stick the flag in your drink holder, you have to adjust it so that you can see the reflection of light up “inside out” captions in the back of the theater. I believe it was created because of the unfortunate number of complaints that the theaters were getting because of certain individuals who had a problem with sitting through the open caption film that happened either at 2 p.m. or 11 p.m. on a Wednesday in the middle of the week. And this happened only once a week folks. If these unfortunate individuals do not like the open captioning, then they have 20 other viewings to choose from of the same movie at more convenient hours. I wouldn’t be surprised if these folks were younger (like teenagers) because of the hours these movies were at – most adults would be at work or in bed. How nice of movie theaters to take their thoughts into opinion.

And while I’m still on my rant, people who make DVDs can stay away from “Subtitles from the Hearing Impaired”, a simple “Subtitles” will be fine, unless you have two types of subtitles: one that shows the noises happening and the other that doesn’t.

OK, I’m done with my little rant.

So you get the general idea. If you’re looking for a captioned viewing in a movie theater, it’s always a good idea to check out Fomdi (see my links).