By Nancy Huffman, New CCAC member
I do not think anyone who hears well could possibly understand what having closed captioning available on television programs, DVDs, You Tube and at meetings or conferences means to the hearing impaired population. Having been someone who was fortunate to hear well enough the first 20 years of my life to allow me to have articulate speech, I consider myself fortunate. But, I am now age 64 and through the years my hearing loss has progressed from mild to severe/profound so I have learned the value of closed captioning in its ability to keep me up with the news of the world.
Without captioning, I would never be able to understand the stories, interviews, special reports as commentated by Brian Williams and other news anchors on television. And, during times of crisis when seemingly the entire world is tuned into events, it is totally awesome to be able to be informed because we can read the captioning provided for us knowing we are receiving accurate information. So not only is closed captioning keeping hearing impaired people informed, it also allows us to feel safe in our homes because we can follow what is happening with accuracy when blessed with closed captioning.
As a young person I loved music. I grew up with a Mom who loved the big band era and all the amazing singers of her time. And, I loved the rock and roll music of the 60s during my teenage years! Since I was again fortunate to hear with only a mild loss in my young years, I have the lyrics of songs embedded in my heart and soul. Thus, when a song begins to play on a television show now and I begin to see the words, I know the song. I no longer hear the music adequately, but once I see the words I can hum the lyrics since I know the melody. There are times that this moment has brought me to tears … it’s not sad, but happy … so happy to have captioning that allows me to read the words and remember these songs from days gone by that are stored in my heart.
In my area I do not have theaters that have theater captioning, but we have Netflix where movies can be rented and viewed at home. Before the subtitles were available there was no reason even to see current movies being shown. But, with the subtitles easily being accessed via some Netflix movies, I am able to enjoy movies at home. And, admittedly, there are some movies that truly need to be seen on the ‘big screen’ to appreciate all the special effects that have gone into the making of the movie, but, without cinema captioning, I am lost in the dialogue.
Without a doubt, I know that theaters are beginning to recognize the need for captioning availability and I even recognize the expense that it takes to make this a reality; but with all that said, the hearing impaired population is large and world-wide so we are in hopes that we can see a movie again on opening day with captioning in our near future.
Also, I feel that the airlines need to have their televisions closed captioned on the airplanes and any announcements from the pilot or stewardess/steward be captioned. I have no choice when traveling alone, but to inform the aircraft staff that I am hearing impaired so that they inform me of any directives. And, I want to emphasize that I have had only wonderful support from the airline crews in coming to me individually on the plane flight to give me the updates individually, but it still singles me out making me different when this would be alleviated simply by having captioning on their air flight televisions that are viewed by passengers.
So, in conclusion, it is like … toast without butter? a needle without thread? strawberry without shortcake? hearing impaired without closed captioning?
The CCAC thanks Nancy for this “from the heart” and “universal” story. So many of us identify with everything she writes about, not only for entertainment, but also for school, work, and more. E-mail your story about what the “power of captioning” means to you, for a future issue, to firstname.lastname@example.org.