On Closed-Captioned TV

A few weeks ago, my uncle decided to turn on the closed-captioning on the TV in the living room. Doing so brought back a lot of memories for me, as both of my parents were deaf and thus used closed-captioning whenever we watched television. We used other hearing impaired-y mods for other things in the house as well -- a flashing light for the doorbell and phone, for instance -- but the thing that still resonates with me is the closed-captioning for our TV. Looking back, I like to joke about my "old age" because we used a standalone box which was hooked up to the TV to get the captions. It wasn't until the mid-'90s I believe that the FCC mandated that TVs be manufactured with closed-captioning built-in. I remember my parents being overjoyed at this when we upgraded to one of these newer sets, because it meant that we could get rid of that damn anachronistic box. It was cool to me too, since all we had to do to enable closed-captioning was turn it on in the TV's settings menu.

My uncle's impetus for enabling the closed-captioning on our circa 1997 TV was he wanted another way to get what was being said on screen. That is, in addition to being able to hear what people are saying, he wanted to be able to read it as well. I find that to be really useful too. What's great about it is that everything is captioned: dialogue, ambient sounds, song lyrics, and so on. It tells you when people are crying or sighing; it denotes music playing by displaying a note symbol; it even goes so far as to tell you the artist and song name when a song comes on in a movie or whatever. Granted, that music is so detailed seems counter-intuitive given closed-captioning is mainly used by the deaf community, but it shows that closed-captioning isn't a technology exclusive to the hearing impaired. As my uncle's reasoning shows, closed-captioning is just as beneficial to the hearing world. The only gripe I have with it is that the captioning gets in the way when I'm trying to navigate Comcast's on-screen channel guide. It sucks, but it's an inconvenience I can live with, because I enjoy having the words on screen.

If you haven't used the closed-captioning on your TV, try it. It's pretty cool.