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Working With Headphones


While most use auditory and visual senses to truly appreciate television, those who are hearing and visually impaired experience the joys of television from different spectrum.

Image by Soundtrap

We've all seen closed-captions while watching our favourite program. Some people choose to remove those pesky subtitles while others rely on them to get their information. Here in Canada, broadcasters have made a conscientious effort to ensure that everyone has the ability to enjoy television programs, regardless of any limitation.

The process that goes on behind the scenes to produce these types of services is remarkable. Did you know that behind these subtitles is a real-life human being?

Though recently artificial intelligence has started to take control of some subtitles, most major channels still use humans as their main source of outputting accessible information through the world of subtitles and captioning using speech-to-text technology.

What is closed captioning?

Closed captions transforms the verbal dialogue in a program into text using real-time to accurately synchronize the text to audio. This makes television dialog understandable to those who are deaf or hearing impaired. In the case of delivering live news, closed captioning is produced verbatim using a technique known as re-speaking.

What is re-speaking?
Re-speaking simply means that behind every actor or reporter's microphone is a person listening and mechanically repeating their words into another microphone, using voice-recognition technology. The process happens instantly, and this method of captioning is normally used with live news. This is typically the easiest way for broadcasters to deliver accurate captions at a rapid speed.

Typing on the Computer

Steno captioning

Steno captioning is the most popular captioning tool used in legal proceedings and court reporting. Steno captioning may also be used in live television, though this is rare. The process of this style of captioning requires dictation while paying attention to syllables, words, phrases and a technique called chording and stroking. Steno captioning uses a specific keyboard that has fewer keys and is designed to deliver the message in half the time of traditional captioning, making it both accurate and time.


The process in which audio is manually converted to text is known as transcription. This method involves somebody manually typing out the audio using a tradition keyboard. Transcriptionists normally work with pre-recorded programs, therefore allowing for opportunities of complete accuracy and detail. Transcriptions should always include; word dialogues, background music and noises etc.

Descriptive visual

Descriptive video is the cool, younger brother of closed captioning. Descriptive video caters to those who are visually impaired and rely on audio to accurately receive their broadcast intel. Aside from depending on television audio, descriptive videos provide detailed descriptions during pauses in a dialogue that helps viewers to form a mental image of the program. Descriptive video is best used for pre-recorded television shows and movies.

For people with visual and hearing impairments, closed captioning and descriptive videos go far beyond being just a service. It is a vital part of their life that helps to deliver news, information and entertainment. Thanks to this service, those who are affected by auditory and visual limitations are able to have convenient accessibility to their favourite programs, thus increasing their quality of life.

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