Captions enable many people who are Deaf or hard of hearing to enjoy television programs. It is important that people who are Deaf or hard of hearing have access to the
hearing world. This can include captions or having an Auslan interpreter at a meeting. But not all programs on television are captioned. We can miss out.
New research by The Australia Institute has found high use of television captions. 30 per cent of the Australian population sometimes use captions and three per cent always use them.
The results of the research prompted the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) and Media Access Australia (MAA) to call on television networks to include captioning on all programs.
ACCAN Disability Policy Adviser Wayne Hawkins says some programs are currently being screened without captions even though captions are available.
Good quality, timely captions mean that people who are Deaf or hearing impaired can watch television like everyone else, says Mr Hawkins.
We’d like to see all programs captioned as standard practice.
DiVine spoke to two people who use captions for their views and experiences.
Don has hearing loss and watches about five hours of television a day. Don says he typically understands what is said on news and current affairs programs because the presenters speak clearly.
But Don complains that many actors speak badly.
They just mumble, says Don.
Some actors don’t have a clue how to talk. (It’s) just a fast jumble of words running into each other. Don turns captions on for any programs or DVDs that he cannot understand.
Improve the quality
John was born Deaf and always uses captions when watching television or DVDs. John says all programs and DVDs should have captions. He recalls watching many TV programs when he was a child but was not able to follow them.
John would also like the quality of captions to be improved. He complains that live captions are often
jerky and uncoordinated. He also finds it disappointing when words are censored or changed, such as swearing.
Both Don and John believe the Federal Government should make it mandatory for all television programs and DVDs to have captions. Don says he is pleased that the switch to digital television has enabled more captioning.
I watch very little television. I only turn the television on if there is a good program worth watching. For example, last year there was a documentary called How to Have Sex After Marriage. As a relationship counsellor who wants to keep learning how to make marriage work, I was interested to watch it. I know many marriages need to have better communication and more romance.
But the program did not have captions. I missed out on the information the documentary contained. I had to research the topic on the internet and books instead. We should not be missing out.
What do you think of the quality of captions on television? Are there programs you would like to watch that don’t currently have captions? Let us know in the comments section below.