When presenting videos to students who are deaf or hard of hearing, difficulties can arise resulting in missed information. Students who are hard of hearing may have difficulty because soundtracks aren’t quite as clear as “live” discussions or lectures. Additionally, not every speaker’s lips are shown in the camera shot – there may be voice-overs that cannot be understood. For students who use interpreters, having an interpreter standing next to the screen can facilitate some of the communication, but not at the optimal level. Divided attention between the video and the interpreter can cause the student to miss important information. Additional difficulties arise when classrooms are darkened – this places the interpreter in the dark and the student can have difficulty seeing details, especially when spelling key words or names.
What is Closed Captioning?
Closed Captioning is a method that allows individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to have access to the audio portion of videos and movies. The term “closed” indicates that these captions only appear on the screen when filtered through a Closed Caption Decoder.
Homemade Videos Copied from Television
When material is copied from television programs, there is a high probability that it is Closed Captioned. Because of new regulations related to telecommunications and accessibility, many networks are required to include captioning in a certain percentage of their programming day. News magazine programs are most often Closed Captioned and therefore, any segments taped from them, should also contain the encoded information. It is not necessary to have any special equipment when taping these programs. The Closed Captioning signal is sent along with the audio and video portions of the program. Any VCR will record this signal automatically. If you are planning to show material taped from television programs, you may want to check with the ODS to see if Closed Captioning is already available on the videotape.
Access to Decoder Equipment
The equipment used in your department may comply with current telecommunications standards for closed captioning. In order to determine this you will need the remote control unit for that specific monitor. Many times you will see a button on the remote labeled “Caption,” or “CC.” This will give you access to the Closed Captioning Decoder. Another common access point to the decoder is through the “Menu” or “Options” button. This will give you a list of options, which may include Closed Captioning.
The student who is deaf or hard of hearing is a good resource to determine the capability of the equipment you are using, or feel free to contact the ODS and ask to speak to the Liaison Interpreter. Additional information can be given, or we can assist in determining whether or not you have a built-in decoder. Another excellent resource is Instructional Technologies Support.
If the equipment you are currently using is not compatible, Instructional Technologies Support may be able to assist in providing additional equipment in order to make the Captioning accessible. This may involve use of another TV/VCR or even a decoder box, if available.
Interpreters and Captioning
Avoid asking the interpreter for information on Closed Captioning. While he/she may have the answers you are looking for, it compromises her/his role in the situation. If captioning is unavailable, let the student know directly – this will allow her/him to judge whether it would be best to have the interpreter provide interpretation, or have input as to other possible accommodations.
Quick Guide to Captioning