s part of an assignment for school, I watched 3 regular TV shows in Closed Captioning with the sound turned off completely. It was a really interesting experience, and less disruptive to my regular TV watching habits than I would have thought. I watched The Bonnie Hunt Show on NBC 4, Divine Design on HGTV, and Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares on BBC America.
To be honest, I really hated the Bonnie Hunt Show without sound. It was the nightmare I expected Closed Captioning to be: far behind on the action and riddled with misspellings. I know I missed a lot of the jokes because of how far behind the CC was, and it was really hard to decipher what was going on because of all the misspellings. The words were going by so fast on the TV that I had a hard time translating what all the misspelled words were supposed to be and keeping up with the text at the same time. Also, because the words were so far behind the action, large portions were cut off at the end of the show to make way for the CC on the commercials. I absolutely love The Bonnie Hunt Show as a hearing person. Her sense of humor is great, and they’re always doing something fun and ridiculous that you aren’t expecting. It was sad for me to realize that I would never want to watch this show if I was deaf.
Divine Design was a completely different CC experience. Maybe it was because the show is pre-taped and not done live, but all the words were keeping up with the action, there were almost no misspellings, and there was even a little fuchsia line around the black CC box so even if the background was dark you could pick out the words easily. I really enjoyed myself, having a quiet afternoon with my TV without the incessant din surrounding my usual Television experience. I felt almost rested afterward, like I had curled up with a good book. I might actually choose to watch Divine Design in CC on a regular basis.
I took a lesson from my previous experiences, and chose to watch a pre-taped show, Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, as my third option. Again, it was great to watch. I gave it my full attention without outside distractions and I liked it. Maybe not better than watching it with sound, but certainly as well as. Another show I would consider watching in CC on a regular basis.
There was one thing I realized about my regular TV viewing habits. A lot of times, I turn on my TV at home for background noise while I’m doing things like knitting or making dinner. It keeps me company while I’m alone at home. If I was deaf, I wouldn’t be able to do this. In some ways I think that would be nice, because I would only watch TV if I was truly paying attention to it, but in other ways I’m afraid I might get bored or lonely more often without it. TV with sound is certainly disruptive in my house, we don’t talk or communicate almost at all when it’s on. I think it’s the same in a lot of other hearing households.
All in all, my experience with Closed Captioning was really positive. The only real problem seems to be with live programming. This brings up an important point in my mind. If there’s an emergency happening in the community, are deaf people going to be able to understand 100% of what’s going on? Or is the Closed Captioning going to be misspelled, far behind, and partially cut-off like it was for the talk show I was watching? If there’s even a shadow of a doubt that there will be a mis-translation of information it’s important that we work to change that. Surely in this modern age of computers there’s a better system out there for live CC. Someone who knows about computers should get out there and figure out what it is, and soon.