Let me start by saying Impact Media is a full service closed captioning and subtitling company dedicated to excellence in all our captioning and subtitling services. Unfortunately not every company or 'do it yourselfer' feels that way about closed captioning. In fact many people feel it is unimportant, and they are putting just enough effort into the task to keep them barely legal.
For this reason the FCC passed their new best practices for closed captioning law that incorporated some basic key element requirements for closed captioning that went into effect in March of 2015. The best practices of closed captioning according to the FCC guidelines must be accurate, synchronized with the audio, closed captioned in its entirety, and the captions are not covering important graphic information on the screen. That sounds simple enough, but unfortunately many companies were not displaying good closed captioning for lack of a better term. Although at Impact Media before the best practices use of closed captioning came out, we had been advertising that our company provides all of those attributes. Some folks cared while others only cared about getting it done as cheap as possible.
In reading the FCC hearings transcripts leading up to the new laws I could not believe some of the complaints they were discussing. They were what I would call very justified complaints. I read about captioner's using text message language in their closed captioning that aired on broadcast television, and while the deaf persons teenage children could follow along, many of them had no idea what was being said because they were unfamiliar with phrases like HBU? meaning how about you? And IDK, meaning I don't know, because they have been reading long form words or proper form words all of their life; in fact they were used to reading let me know, rather than just LMK. I can understand the complaint, but what I couldn't believe is that companies were actually putting this stuff out over broadcast television, or over the Internet embedded in the videos. Of course let's not forget the numerous complaints about spelling, and not just proper names, but common spelling mistakes through entire programs that were just ignored by the people responsible for captioning those shows. Now everyone makes an occasional spelling error, but the errors they were talking about were atrocious.
In the area of synchronization the complaints were that the audio was either way ahead of the closed captioning or way behind, and the time far exceeded the five second time lapse that exists in live captioning, such as the news. When the captions were far behind the viewers never saw all the captioning, because the program would end long before the captions would have come on the screen. Some complaints were that the caption file was faster than the program, and the text on the screen was one scene, but the captioning was from an entirely different scene, which made it difficult for the deaf to follow along, and enjoy the program. It was also pointed out that it also caused frustration for deaf and hard of hearing viewers to enjoy television shows they were watching with hearing friends and family. Basically what they were saying was some captioner's were putting out garbage closed captioning, and they didn't seem to have much regard for the deaf and hard of hearing communities, not to mention all the people that use closed captioning to learn the English language. All the deaf and hard of hearing community wanted was for the closed captioning companies to care about the services they were delivering, and to care about the people they were being delivered to as well.
Completeness was another complaint. Some programs were only partially captioned, as they would have captioning the first five-minutes or so, then they would skip maybe 10-minutes, and start again for another five-minutes, and so forth. I can't even begin to imagine the thought of putting so little effort into something, that you make a hit and miss captioning file. I mean where did the pride in workmanship go? I was flabbergasted at the fact that anymore would even consider such poor quality output, yet all along companies that were calling themselves professional. Our company doesn't even put in an inaudible before we've listened to it at least 20 times trying to get the correct interpretation. I could hardly believe my eyes when reading it, but there were so many witnesses, and so many documented cases that it was irrefutable that some companies just didn't care.
Another complaint that became law was placement; the closed captioning covered up all of the graphics, many of them giving phone numbers, addresses, how to order products being sold on the show, and other important information. When the person talking on the show says please call the number on the screen, but the number is completely covered up with the closed captioning, then it's impossible for them to get the number to call. "Just go to the Web address on your screen to find out more about our organization." But when you can't see the Web address because the closed captioning that is being used for your deaf niece that is watching the program with you, you completely miss the address, and the whole statement become mute. Taken from another point of view, you're the editor, who has just spent eight hours or more making these state of the art lower third graphics for the program, and you are pumped about your excellent work. You send your finished program to the closed captioning company, and they cover up every one of those graphics that you spent hours to create with closed captioning, because they are in "Git-R-Done" mode, and don't care about anything other than time is money.
I'm not really sure how "Git-R-Done" became more important than pride of workmanship, but it is sad, and that is why the FCC stepped in with what is now called the "Best Practices of Closed Captioning." Perhaps the just "Git-R-Done" does have its place, but perhaps that place is for weekend warrior projects such a yard work, or cleaning the garage; whereas closed captioning should be skillfully done with quality rather than with speed. At Impact Media we've always taken the quality first approach, and will continue to do so. We've always believed that any job worth doing is worth doing right. Meaning that we put our best into everything we do, and will continue to do so, and our closed captioning will always be Accurate, synchronized, and essentially placed, as it has always been in the past.
Closed captioning shall convey the aural content of video programming in the original language (i.e. English or Spanish) to individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing to the same extent that the audio track conveys such content to individuals who are able to hear. Captioning shall be accurate, synchronous, complete, and appropriately placed as those terms are defined herein.
• Accuracy. Captioning shall match the spoken words (or song lyrics when provided on the audio track) in their original language (English or Spanish), in the order spoken, without substituting words for proper names and places, and without paraphrasing, except to the extent that paraphrasing is necessary to resolve any time constraints. Captions shall contain proper spelling (including appropriate homophones), appropriate punctuation and capitalization, correct tense and use of singular or plural forms, and accurate representation of numbers with appropriate symbols or words. If slang or grammatical errors are intentionally used in a program's dialogue, they shall be mirrored in the captions. Captioning shall provide nonverbal information that is not observable, such as the identity of speakers, the existence of music (whether or not there are also lyrics to be captioned), sound effects, and audience reaction, to the greatest extent possible, given the nature of the program. Captions shall be legible, with appropriate spacing between words for readability.
• Synchronicity. Captioning shall coincide with the corresponding spoken words and sounds to the greatest extent possible, given the type of the programming. Captions shall begin to appear at the time that the corresponding speech or sounds begin and end approximately when the speech or sounds end. Captions shall be displayed on the screen at a speed that permits them to be read by viewers. • Completeness. Captioning shall run from the beginning to the end of the program, to the fullest extent possible.
• Placement. Captioning shall be viewable and shall not block other important visual content on the screen, including, but not limited to, character faces, featured text (e.g., weather or other news updates, graphics and credits), and other information that is essential to understanding a program's content when the closed captioning feature is activated. Caption font shall be sized appropriately for legibility. Lines of caption shall not overlap one another and captions shall be adequately positioned so that they do not run off the edge of the video screen.
Impact Media complies with the FCC Captioning Best Practices Law of practicing the following actions of performance by creating high quality closed captions for video programming as describe in the quality of standards above.
• Verification: Includes a means of verifying compliance with such performance requirements, through periodic spot checks of caption throughout the program.
• Training: All employees and contractors who are involved in the closed captioned process are trained in the closed captioning process, rules and regulations of closed captioning, and accuracy expectations of our company, and in compliance with the FCC.
• Impact Media's Quality Assurance: We provide quality closed captioning that meets or exceeds the requirements of the FCC, because we gear our closed captioning toward the audience who is using these services, the deaf and hard of hearing community.
I hereby certify that the above information is the standard practice of Impact Media and it is in compliance with the closed captioning laws implemented by the FCC, a government agency of the United State of America.
I hope you enjoyed this blog about "All Closed Captioning is Not The Same," and that you will consider our company when choosing a closed captioning company in the future. We are not a "Git-R-Done" company, but one that takes pride in their workmanship, and with that in mind is still very capable of delivery a fast turn-around on all our Closed Captioning projects. Remember to call Impact Media for all of your closed captioning. To find more of CC Girl's Blogs by Impact Media go to our blog page, and keep checking back for new blogs. Read more blogs