Closed captioning is one of many necessary tools utilised by disabled people, going largely unnoticed by those without disabilities. Although in many ways closed captioning is becoming increasingly visible in the mainstream thanks to the popularity of social media platforms such as Vimeo, YouTube, and Facebook which substitute audio with subtitles for those of us with little time or attention to watch a video, for disabled people, captioning is less if a convenience and more an integral tool for consuming media that many of us without disability take for granted.

On the surface, closed captioning can be defined as text synced to audio on videos and television broadcasts, but for deaf and hard of hearing users can provide vital information that they would otherwise miss such as dialogue transcription, sound effect description, speaker tone, volume and vocalisation, and off-screen speaker identification. 

This week, it was reported that Channel 4 subtitling services are unlikely to return to the platform until mid-November, which has rightfully caused outrage to deaf, hard of hearing, and visually impaired viewers. The fault was apparently caused by a fire suppressant system destroying hard disks at a broadcast center, with its respective backup system also failing and for a shorter period of time also affected BBC and Channel 5 services. 

It is no secret that our founder and director Steven Mifsud is profoundly deaf himself, and as an organisation that supports the employment of mostly disabled people, our team can only share in the outrage of the deaf and hard of hearing community. Of course, internal errors may occur from time to time, and we cannot claim to understand the nature of these fully. But knowing that broadcasters as influential, propertied, and dominating as the BBC and Channel 4 are unable to provide accessible formats and communication for some 12 million deaf and hard of hearing people in the UK for as much as 3 weeks to a month, is simply unacceptable, and an unfortunate reminder that systems inclusive of disabled people still have a way to go before being considered as functional and reliable as the television broadcasts themselves.

Direct Access’ internal green studio allows us to offer a variety of reliable and accessible formats and communication services. We can provide everything from audio description and transcription services to sign language and subtitled videos, utilizing in-house sign language interpreters and our seasoned media staff to guide businesses to full compliance with the Equality Act 2010 and Section 303 of the Communications Act of 2003.

If you wish to provide transcription, closed captioningsubtitling, BSL interpretation, or need other forms of communication transcription, get in touch with us today. We are here to help – because accessibility for us is personal.

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