Shouting Won’t Help – Captioning

I’ve got to admit that the reason I prefer American Sign Language to captioning is because the Interpreters make sense.  They may also be unable to hear at times as some situations such as large meetings with soft speakers are a challenge for even those who can hear a bug fart at five miles, BUT when they can’t understand it they tell you, rather than giving out word hash. However, captioning is here to stay and hopefully it will get better over time.  More people can read captioning than can understand ASL, unfortunately.  Please, God, let captioning get better over time.

Ms. Bouton chimes in on captioning on phones and TV in the chapter entitled “How To Be A Deaf Theater Editor.  You’ve got to love it when she gives several versions of how a captioning service translates “Good afternoon.  Preston Health Center.  This is Laura [or whoever is answering] speaking How may I help you?”

“Good afternoon.  A Person healthcare.  Is the Lord speaking.”
“Good Morning.  Oppressive Health Care.”

She includes some TV captions of note:
“The boy ate the bridge.”
“Can you hear the garbage.”
“He liked to eat morphine.”

My personal favorites are the ones that look like Klingon after Worf has had too much to drink and the ever baffling:
“That woman has an umbrella in her uterus.”


  1. This sounds like some of the things I think I hear people say, but I’m so very wrong.

    For instance…I saw a sign at a church, something about Jesus, I asked my husband what Jesus was, I know the son of god thing, but what was he to the people then other than that. He said, ” a Jewish Carpenter” I heard…”Jimmy Buffet” I busted out laughing, Jesus was Jimmy Buffet??? We still laugh at that one.

    the other day he went prancing through the room and I thought he said, “I’m a naked and dancing man.” Well, yes he was kind of dancing, but not naked…so I laugh and ask what he said. “I’m making Banana Bread” So now when I smell something good from the kitchen I ask him if he’s been dancing naked?

    Captions to have a long way to go, and some channels on TV have great captions while others are just some alien language. (I will not insult Worf to say it looks Klingon….Feringi maybe *snicker*.) So I know there are some stations I cannot watch, and darn-it, one of them is BBCA – they show Next Generation often…with BAD captions.
    Not to mention Dr. Who! my husband will now download them for me and gets captions off the internet. (no I don’t know how, I’m very un-tech savy.)

    Question? When a movie theater says they have accommodations for the hearing impaired, is it usually captions or T-coil? We can’t get the theaters around here to answer the phone, and hate the idea of running around asking. I couldn’t do captions on the glasses like I’ve heard about, I have glasses and that would give me a headache.

    Thanks as always.

  2. Oh, lordie, thing things I’ve heard. And in my case, as a dyslexic, the things I’ve seen. I haven’t “sold my soul to Santa” yet, but it’s been close a lot of times. I can’t tell you how often I’ve read something and gone… duh.

    I don’t go to theaters. The last time I went was to Avatar. Too much noise. Too much everything. I think the accommodations are glasses you wear that have captions. I’m not interested. DVD and a TV is just fine with me – there are captions there. I often use the English Subtitles and they work great.

    I said Klingon when they were drunk – and it was slurred. But Ferengi it is. 🙂

    1. Among my friends is Mark Mandel, the Linguist who got the Dragon speech recognition software to be able to understand Klingon. He will still speak Klingon to me with minimal encouragement. His PhD dissertation was a linguistic analysis of ASL. He will soon retire. If you like, I could ask him whether anyone is working on more intelligent automated captioning. It seems likely that he would know.

      1. It is a process. The problem is that people with so many different types of accents and voices speak on TV or over captioned phones that automatic captioning often can’t capture the voice correctly.

        If a person is actually transcribing it and makes a error you will see the caption back up and resubmit the correct text, but software captioning that doesn’t have the opportunity to learn a voice (as Dragon does) is faced with overwhelming problems. You can ask, but I’m not sure he works on the automatic captions for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

        That being said, there is no excuse for TV shows that are pre-recorded to have bad captioning, and yet some of them do. They comply with the letter, but not the spirit or the law.

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