Our ability to consume media is dependent on our ability to see and hear. If we can’t see, then Steve Braunias’ words in the Herald evade us; if we can’t hear, then the ramblings of Paul Henry float by silently; and if we can’t do one or the other, then the messages relayed via the television lose most of their impact. For over two thousand years, humans have developed various means to bridge the gap that separates the visually or hearing impaired from media. One of the more recent innovations in this space was the addition of captioning to television shows in the 1970s. The first application of this process was used in 1972 during an episode of the French Chef, with the words appearing uniformly across all TV sets tuned into the show. And by 1976, the Federal Communications Commission of the United States introduced closed captioning, which gave viewers a choice of whether or not to watch a show.
The caption writers: how Able brings TV closer to the hearing impaired