The Internet, Pop Culture

My life is in the hands of captions – yes, it can literally be a matter of life and death

The importance of closed captioning is sadly underrated.

Closed captioning can quite literally be imperative to the lives of people with disabilities. It is necessary for the general population to understand the newscasters on weather and news channels; it should not be foreign. Language on your own television screen should be familiar, and make you feel safe at home. If a deaf person is unable to interpret what is being said on the news or on the weather channel it can quite literally leave their lives at risk.

It is important for every form of art to be accessible. This includes theatres. Everyone has the right to consume and enjoy various forms of media.  Entertainment and art are key to our happiness as humans. It is what reflects all the beautiful, raw aspects of being alive. To some it may seem trivial, but art is indeed a perennial aspect of our collective experience. It’s also a frequent conversation topic. Many people discuss their favorite movies on dates with friends, family members or their significant others. It is a huge form of isolation to be unable to enjoy and share the joys of the theatre with your family and friends.

Art is meant to be accessible to every individual;  it is not meant to be for a reserved group of abled people. It is imperative we create a world that is accessible for all walks of life.  Everyone deserves to experience the best parts about being human: each aspect of life should be accessible.

It is also significant to understand that movies and tv shows are also a form of escapism  for many people: it helps them de-stress from the harsh realities of this world and understand themselves and their own emotions.

I have been to the theatres and missed much of what is being said. It is a very isolating experience; it is similar to the feeling of someone speaking a completely different language around you and being unable to understand what is being said.

Youtube and other online platforms are also a huge source of knowledge and entertainment. YouTube, unlike Netflix, does not have proper, built-in closed captioning. The captioning on Youtube do not match the words on the screen: they’re done automatically with no consideration or thought.  There are very few videos on Youtube in which the captions have been edited so they are accurate.

Sometimes the only source of information on a topic are documentaries and videos; it is imperative they are accessible to deaf and hard of hearing individuals. It is also significant that teachers remember this too: it is for each student in your class to understand the material being taught in class.

I have been to classes where I have had to remind the professors that I am unable to hear the videos. Most have been very understanding, thankfully, and allowed me to take the video home or find ones with closed captioning, but it really does impact your grade if you are unable to hear the material.

There are many prominent deaf YouTubers, including Rikki Poynter, who advocate for proper captioning on YouTube channels and are adamant about including closed captioning in her videos.

It is easy to forget something like watching videos, movies, ad tv channels are not accessible for everyone. However, once you become aware, it’s imperative to be aware and respectful. Small acts of consideration go a long way in making the world more accessible for people who are hard of hearing or deaf. It is also to remember the value of fighting for closed captioning : imagine every single film is translated in a language that wasn’t yours. It would make one feel alienated and unable to enjoy something as simple as a Marvel movie or an interesting documentary. Any form of accessibility in this world is necessary.