What are captions? Captions are defined by the National Captioning Institute as, "subtitles, translations of the spoken word to the written, which permit deaf and hard-of-hearing people to see what they cannot hear. There are two kinds of captioning--open and closed. Open captions always appear on the screen, while closed captions must be 'opened' to be seen. Closed captioning is the process whereby captions are converted to electronic codes and inserted in the regular television signal, specifically on Line 21, a portion of the picture normally not seen." As of July 1993, all televisions 13" or greater in size that are manufactured in the United States or imported for use in the United States must be equipped with built-in decoder circuitry to enable the viewing of closed captioned video and television programming.
Why consider using captions as a work-site accommodation for someone who is deaf or hard of hearing? Employers often use videotapes as training tools for employees. When tapes are used that have not been captioned, the tapes are inaccessible to employees who are deaf or hard of hearing. Employers should make an effort to ensure that all employees can benefit from training tools. When purchasing training tapes, consider purchasing tapes that have either open or closed captions or contact captioning service providers that can add captions to training videos. Employers might also use captioning as a way to provide realtime communication access to meetings, special events and web casts. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) offers word for word translation of audio information and is provided by a professional who is skilled and trained in using stenographic equipment. Many captioning providers offer remote CART and Internet captioning where the stenographer is not physically present at the event.