Say that again? CWG aims to prevent ‘bad lip reading’ for the deaf and hard of hearing

The New Zealand Captioning Working Group has released a campaign via The Business called ‘Bad lip reading’ featuring a humorous clip of overdubbed rugby players to raise awareness of how hard it can be for deaf people to lip read when watching TV or on demand content. At the core of the campaign is an online petition requesting support to legislate captioning on the country’s screens.

The compiled clip of Rugby World Cup footage is a way to leverage the campaign, with the end of the clip saying thousands of Kiwis are experiencing the world cup through difficult lip-reading.

The petition needs to reach 200 supporters, and is sitting around 71 at the moment. It will be presented to the New Zealand House of Representatives minister of broadcasting Amy Adams.

Approximately one in six Kiwis are hard of hearing and by 2050 it will be one in four of us, according to a The Business issued release. “Despite that, the RWC have just announced that the competition won’t be captioned In New Zealand, denying enjoyment to all who cannot hear broadcast television.”

The Business strategy director Ben Cochrane says chances are we know someone who is hard of hearing. “It’s not just older people either, it affects a lot of us and the government should legislate for captioning. In the UK everything is captioned and the hard of hearing in Britain will be able to watch the same RWC with full captions because it’s legislated for. This isn’t a problem that is going to go away,” he says.

CWG chairperson Louise Carroll says: “Video is everywhere these days and accessible on many devices, or is it. For many of us, who are deaf and hard of hearing, we need video captioning – words on the screen so we can read what you say. Without it, watching TV becomes a lip reading challenge – which might seem funny for a minute, but not for a lifetime.”

“We’d like the captions to be the responsibility of the broadcasters. People that need them can turn them on using a button on their remote control or by choosing an option on their phone, tablet or computer.”

She says in New Zealand we have fallen a long way behind our neighbour, Australia. “Their TV stations are required to broadcast with captioning. The United States has had captioning legislation for decades. United Kingdom, Canada and much of Europe also require broadcasters to caption.”

In New Zealand only one programme has captioning, she says, which is One News and no news is captioned on any channel between 11pm and 12 noon the following day.

She says some main channels cannot support live captioning and some free to air channels have no captioning whatsoever (Prime TV).

No New Zealand On Demand or TV catch up service offers captioning, including TVNZ On Demand, 3Now, Sky Go and Lightbox, however Netflix offers 100 percent captioning.

“Sadly, some excellent examples of great New Zealand content are available in America with closed captioning and not here, for example, Brokenwood Mysteries.”

Deaf and hard of hearing New Zealanders need to be able to watch what they want, when they want and how they want – just like everyone else, she says. “We want to be part of the conversation about the latest news, reality show, political announcement or Rugby result. Captions are not a luxury, they are essential. Captions give us the full story so we can participate too.”

She says the campaign is not political, it’s building an accessible, inclusive society essential for all New Zealanders.

The New Zealand Captioning Working Group (CWG) is a collaboration of Deaf Aotearoa, The National Foundation for the Deaf and the Hearing Association New Zealand.

And for those who want a bit more of a laugh from bad lip reading videos, here’s a few more to view at your leisure.

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