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The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) strongly urges all producers of video, television broadcasts and film, including commercials and information presented on the World Wide Web, to caption their offerings. This position paper outlines the NAD's views on a wide variety of captioning technologies and advises consumers how they may file complaints about non-captioning and poor captioning.
The NAD has worked successfully with Congress and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to establish new captioning rules for broadcasters. Deaf consumers are already seeing more programs with captions. We are pleased that by 2006, virtually all new broadcast programming will be captioned. As the new rules become effective, deaf or hard of hearing must be alert for inadequate captioning. When a broadcaster is not meeting its responsibilities, we urge consumers to file complaints with the FCC and other enforcement agencies.
The people who could benefit from captions are many. First, some 28 million Americans are deaf or hard of hearing. They represent about 10 percent of all Americans. Each one of them also has family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc., who can enjoy watching films and videos with them as a result of the provision of captions. Second, another 28 million Americans are "foreign born," according to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, many of whom speak languages other than English (March 2000 Current Population Survey, www.census.gov). This population segment may seek captioned programming as one way to enhance their mastery of English. Third, more than 3 million school children are have limited English proficiency, and could benefit from simultaneous speech and captions (www.ed.gov/offices/OBEMLA). Finally, the 2000 Census revealed that more than 18 million Americans are less than five years of age. Many will find the exposure to captions an excellent tool to learn to read faster if they are given the opportunity to watch captions on children's programs.
OPEN VS. CLOSED CAPTIONING
For broadcast programming, videos and films, the usual captioning approach is that of closed captioning. This technique hides the captions so that they are not visible unless "decoding" occurs. All new television sets and …