Closed Captioning for the Deaf

Lip-reading is rather unsuccessful (only an average of 20% understanding). Closed captioning, however, takes all the lip-reading out of watching television!

You have probably watched television. And you have probably pressed a button on your remote that makes white words with a black background pop up on your screen (either on purpose or by accident). These words actually follow the dialogue and sounds of the TV show you’re watching!

If you are hearing, you probably thought that this was quite repetitive. But for deaf people, this is fantastic!

Closed captions are hidden in the signal that your television receives. So, even if you can’t see them, they’re there! If you want to see the captions, you need to have a caption decoder (all modern televisions have one now). When the decoder is turned on (when you press that magic button), you can see the captions…

Clear as black and white!

closed captioning

An Example of Captions
Photo courtesy of:
Empower Missouri

This way, deaf people, and those who are yelled at to turn the volume down, can read the dialogue instead.

The term “closed” captioning is used because the captions can be turned on or off. “Open” captioning cannot be turned off. This is when the captions are burned onto the actual footage.

By law, all television programs are required to have closed captioning. All TVs need to have decoders built in now as well. If you want to know more about these laws, you can visit the CC section of the FCC website for more information.

You will know if a movie has captions if you see this symbol on the back cover:

closed captioning

In short, deaf people are better able to watch television because of captioning. And making quality captioning available on all programming is being advocated for by many deaf and hard of hearing organizations.

“Lesson #1: An Introduction to the American With Disabilities Act (ADA).” People with Disabilities: An Untapped Business Resource. Empower Missouri. 26 Aug. 2008 (

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Please leave only comments that add to the article or discussion. Any help or support comments should be directed to Start ASL Help & Support. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *