As announced earlier, HEARS has restarted and we are anxious to get together to discuss how to support our mission: “Help Oakmont Residents cope with increasing and bothersome issue of hearing loss.” Unfortunately, COVID restrictions require masks and masks are anathema to people with hearing loss so getting together might be delayed until March, or later. In the meantime, this article is the first of many to come.

Many of us have seen sign-language interpreters but how many of us have seen the captions under the screen that show what the speaker is saying? Captioning is a technology that works for almost everyone with hearing problems. It helps people with mild loss, who may have trouble hearing at a lecture, as well as the deaf. For the moderately hard of hearing, the captions reinforce the spoken (or sung or played) sounds. For those who can’t understand what they hear, even with other hearing assistance, the captions provide a live transcript.

Captions are words displayed on a television, computer, mobile device (Zoom), or movie screen (did you know, theaters are required by ADA to provide them upon request?). Captions provide the speech or sound portion of a program or video via text that allow viewers to follow the dialogue and the action of a program simultaneously.
For people with hearing loss who have residual hearing, captions can make the spoken words easier to understand. Captions can also provide information about who is speaking or about sound effects that might be important to understanding a news story, political event, or the plot.

Captions are frequently created from the program’s script or audio file although Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the form of Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) is becoming prevalent. A caption writer translates the dialogue into captions and makes sure the words appear in sync with the audio. A caption writer uses a stenotype machine with a phonetic keyboard and special software. Although real-time captioning strives to reach 98 percent accuracy, the audience will see errors, especially in sports.

Do you know how to turn on captions? We can help. Insist that presenters meetings enable captions, Zoom and PowerPoint provides them, so you can follow along with what is being said.

Ask questions at


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