What does captioning mean to you? Some people call it a form of access. Other people say it's a convenient way to watch movies in the office. I think it's time to call captioning what it is: a form of standardization which helps build the American community. When we watch the same show, we connect to each other in our analysis of it. When the CW network decided not to caption the Chronicles of Cisco–a web series offshoot of The Flash–they decided to privilege who gets to be part of the Flash community, and that's a shame both for the people who depend on captioning and the people who find it convenient. For me, as a Flash reviewer and lover of the show, it goes against the very spirit motivating national love for the fastest man alive.
Captioning is a huge issue for me. I'm old enough to remember the days when televisions had no captions. I used to make them up, as many other Deaf people have, concocting stories rivaling the depth and dramatic breadth of the actual scripts. My first captioned television program was Star Trek: The Next Generation - "The Child," after spending $200 for a captioning box to add on to the television. This marked the beginning of my ability to connect fairly anything to anything. So few shows were captioned that I was limited to Trek, the Golden Girls and a few other shows. But imagine your first show ever being something as stimulating as Star Trek.
I am also old enough to remember, and have actually been there, at Gallaudet University in 1993 when the nation announced new policy requesting all televisions above 13" to have captioning chips built in. That was the start of it - the recognition that all Americans were part of the American community. It's not about accessibility. It's about making a place at the table. After that, I started becoming a regular television watcher.
I love you so please #captionTHISNow, online captioning is the biggest issue, and it's a huge frontier. There's an online movement called #captionTHIS encouraging the industry to caption their videos. The triolet above was written when I began getting involved with this movement. I spoke this year at Stanford MedX about YouTube autocaptions - I pointed out that they were actually craptions, and anyone who cared about making sure their message was clear wouldn't use them. Legally, captions for online products are sort of mandated and sort of not. This means online University courses, news, and yes, entertainment, might be captioned or might not. Again, we're leaving some Americans out of the discussion–in an age where #deaftalent like Marlee Maitlin, Sho Stern, Nyle DiMarco and others are out there on television programs influencing national thought! Far too often the response is: "Let's pass the buck." "It's not our responsibility." "What's the point?" How about making it your responsibility?So much is available through a simple Google search, like the following video from 3Play Media:
for captioning is always right.
These are the shows I hate to miss–
I love them, so, please, #captionTHIS
the natterers, the bores, the wits–
all human darkness and its light.
I love you, so, please, #captionTHIS
for captioning is always right.
What I hope is that the Chronicles of Cisco finds captions mysteriously added to its episode over the next couple of weeks. There's no excuse: it's what Barry and Cisco would do. (Wells would just explode another particle accelerator.) Thanks for reading.