Monday, September 29, 2008

Digital Age Closed Captioning Revolution

The variety of electronic appliances using electronic signal, of which the television wave lengths are a part, in America is increasing at an enormous pace. These wavelengths that can be used and cannot physically be exceeded. Cellular telephones, garage door openers, blue tooth, wireless routers, and remote control, as well police, fire fighter and aviation radio signals are the few examples that fight for wave length along with analog broadcasting television channels. The current Analog broadcasting signals that used in America are called National Television System Committee (NTSC) signals. NTSC signals can bring the limits of the resolution, or picture/display size, quality due to the radio signal uses up much as electronic spectrum.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been approved to disable the analog broadcasting TV by February 17th 2009. In the past several years, the TV and broadcasting have been switching slowly to the digital. The FFC’s mandate to convert to digital is a good thing, and actually has to happen in order to free up the electronic spectrum. Without this federal mandate, it just won’t happen in timely or effective way. And, with digital signals, the amount of wavelength, or bandwidth, used in broadcasting will be much less and free up a very congested electronic spectrum. The new wavelength of digital broadcasting is known as Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) signals, which will be replaced over the NTSC. Digital TVs also can bring up to the maximum resolution quality through ATSC compare to analog TV due use the binary a computer language that can generate over trillion of encoded display/color within under nanosecond, unit of time representing .000000001th second.

The digital TV in the market provided different quality levels of TV: The Standard Definition TV (SDTV), The Enhanced Definition TV (EDTV), and The High Definition TV (HDTV). The SDTV is the basic level of quality display and resolution for both of analog and digital that can be in either the traditional or widescreen format by automatic depend upon on the transmission. The EDTV is the next step up from the Analog TV that comes in 480p widescreen or traditional format but both of them can be provided better picture quality than the SDTV. Currently, Digital TV products have been sold rapidly in the America market in the past several years. The next Generation of Television may be found issues to the deaf consumers.


Closed captioning (CC) provides for individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing to have access to television programming by displaying the audio portion of a television program as text on the television screen. The purpose of CC is not only for hard-of-hearing, it can be useful for anyone who does not use English as his/her first language. It also improves the English language comprehension and fluency via captions. The FCC passed the CC law in July 1993 that requires every analog television receiver over 13” manufactured in the United States must provides with CC decoder. When the decoder is turned on, then the analog TV CC will be allowed to receive the text via NTSC signals. The analog Tv CC text will also show the standard white fonts with black background.

The FCC rules have been updated for closed captioning in the next generation digital TV. However, companies have been complaining about challenges of complying regulations and a lack of consumer awareness; for example, many viewers still feel chained to their traditional analog set. Therefore, not many of the other new generation high definition TV products have been installed with closed captioning decoders. The high definition TV’s closed captioning text can be adjusted vary of size, color, background, and position to order to bring the deaf or Spanish consumer maximum satisfaction. Also, not many high definition digital cable and satellite HDTV supports the closed captioning. Another problem is that HDTV companies’ manufacturers didn’t provide any closed captioning supports for HDTV products upcoverting/downcoverting inputs known as High definition Multimedia Interface (HMDI), COMPOSITE, COMPONET. These are digital video input/output where can be used digital DVD player and/or digital video player.

There are tricky technological problems with the closed captioning on the HD broadcasts. The closed captioning that uses the traditional analog broadcast has been embedded in the signals that are decoded by the analog TV set. However, the captions for HDTV are separated data stream decoded by a set-top box. Deaf consumers find themselves having bug trouble view with the closed captioning with the digital broadcasting such as closed captioning texts’ position offset or trashing full of letters separately all over the HDTV screen.


Since the HI-DVD or any upcoverting/downcoverting high-definition devices that inputs to the HITV are not available due to some companies taking it a step further and having a subtitle option for the hearing impaired which output the same information as a Closed Captioning option would but in a subtitle form. Unfortunately, HDMI connections do not currently have any way to transmit the closed captioning as the standard called for it. Majority of televisions available today do not support the second standard over the HDMI connect. Deaf consumers shall call content operators, stations or device manufacturers tends to pinpoint the support personnel unfamiliar with captioning issues on the HDTV produces’ upcoverting/downcoverting inputs.

As for traditional analog TV, if deaf consumers prefers keep the traditional analog TV, there are digital-to-analog convertor boxes available. After February 17th 2009, all traditional analog TVs will be required to use the digital-to-analog broadcasting converter box to avoid being damaged. FCC rules have been appears to DTV equipment known as converter boxes to able to passing through closed captioning. The digital-to-analog converter box should receive the closed captioning signals and pass those signals to the traditional analog TV automatically. Do not be shocked to see a sheer absence of Closed Caption and deaf consumers shall contact the manufacturer of the converter box.

Failure to follow up with the captioning issues with the HD then deaf consumers can able to file a complaint with the FCC. Even through, if the program or channels lack the captions, it still can file a complaint with the FCC because the companies are in violation of the Television Decoder Circuitry ACT and the FCC’s implementing rules. All deaf consumers need to push the FCC to establish a standard digital HDTV to support Closed Captioning. The more we fill the complaint; FCC will make sure every company to follow-up and meet deaf consumers’ need. The more complaints submitted to the FCC, FCC can follow-up with the violations of the Television Decoder Circuitry ACT as companies/programs made.
Filing the complaint with the FCC can be either online or mailing:

Federal Communications Commission
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20554

Online complaint Form 2000C

Phone: 1-888-225-5322 (Voice), 1-888-835-5322 (TTY)

Without FCC mandate, it just won’t happen in timely or effective way because companies and/or manufactures wouldn’t take any complaints about the closed captioning. The very first time experiences with the closed captioning when I was age of 8 by receiving new closed captioning device for my birthday. My parent has high expect to make sure that I am understanding what the TV shows all about and avoid from begging them to tell me what was going on with the shows. I have tasted most of the next generation HDTV and some of them have no supports of closed caption and some does. The big problem has been impacted me big was recent superbowl football shows on the HDTV broadcasting weren’t provides any closed captioning which traditional analog broadcasting TV does. So I am expecting that any companies are well-known that closed captioning is very important for any consumer.

1 comment:

elizabeth said...

Great blog! I hope you'll consider adding it to the aggregator at Deaf Village ( -- we'd love to have you as part of our community!