This morning, reading JJ Purorro’s blog about his campaign to convince Netflix to include closed captioned movies offered on Netflix’s “Instant View” online rental service, which doesn’t offered the closed captioned versions. I commended him for setting up a Facebook campaign He pointed out a Facebook campaign to rally people to get Netflix to include captioned/subtitled movies in the Instant View streaming video service for the deaf/HoH subscribers. I was disappointed by Netflix CEO Rex Hastings for his ridiculous and ignorant comments about the accessibility and availability of technology to support people with disabilities, including the deaf/HoH people. You can follow the story about a Netflix shareholder who questioned Hastings on the lack of closed captioned videos in Netflix’s online streaming service at the annual shareholder meeting on May 29th, 2009.
The deaf and hard-of-hearing people have the right to reasonable accommodation and accessibility to available technologies in order to assist them in communicative matters in their lives. Closed captioning in television shows, movies and videos is a very important integral feature in everyday life of the deaf, crucially assisting them to understand what is being said and described on the screen while enjoying the same privilege as the hearing people can hear and enjoy likewise.
However, JJ Purorro, in his blog, stated that since his mother purchased a closed captioning box for the TV, his reading proficiency skyrocketed. This is a common saying within the deaf/HoH community: watching closed captioned (CC) shows/videos on TV would improve one’s reading proficiency. I remembered saying this for the same reason many years ago. Though, having later realized that watching shows or movies with CC should not be the sole factor in helping the deaf improve reading proficiency, I used to debate with a deaf friend at Gallaudet that relying on only CC shows/movies won’t improve English skills in writing and reading. I pointed out my experience in reading other materials while growing up in the pre-CC TV age.
Before the advent of closed captioning technology in the late 1970s and early 1980s and before my parents got me a closed captioning box in 1983 for our family TV, I grew up reading comic books, newspapers (Washington Post, Washington Times, local papers), Time, National Geographic and other magzines, and few of my parents’ books. Doing all these eventually improved my reading proficiency over the years. By 1985, TV networks were adding closed captioning to many primetime and news shows and I watched TV more than often, since captioned shows made viewing them more interesting or entertaining than the non-captioned shows, except for the crazy actions of professional wrestling or great sports games.
Going well into 1990s, I was still reading newspapers, magazines and books, and still maintaining my reading proficiency, notwithstanding the greater availability of captioned shows on network and cable TV and movies on videos. Reading these published materials fired my imagination or stroked my thinking in ways that CC shows and movies cannot even do. It opened me to the realm of many possibilities and different thinking.
On the other hand, when you’re watching a CC show or movie, you’re watching oral communication (dialogue) between peoples or narrative description of scenes or events to tell a story in a very visual, moving manner. These doesn’t quite fire your imagination in your mind since you’re watching a scene and reading captioned words at the same time, leaving little room to process any imagination or provoke any thinking in your mind. Ever wonder why these terms to describe people who are addicted to TV? Click here and scroll down to the title “Sensory Confusion”. Your mind is only engaged to the TV while viewing and that’s it. No imagination or thinking processed or provoked. I noticed these mental anomalies myself when I watched TV or movie with CC.
Closed captioning on TV can only help you understand what is being said and described on the screen, but not necessarily alone can improve your reading proficiency. So, do not rely totally on CC TV shows or movies in order to improve your reading skills. It may benefit only for those learning and understanding English for the first time and be more proficient with it in real life communication but not necessarily to learn all that from watching only TV for the rest of life. I would not be impressed with people who said that they got their English skills only from watching CC TV, it’s sad and pathetic. The English literature and language did not start out that way.
So read the books, fiction or non-fiction.
Read the newspapers.
Read the magazines or periodicals.
Read the blogs, news and interesting stuff on the Internet.
Heck, read anything that is written and published. Even that boring manual instruction book.
Well-written words without pictures, static or moving, can fire your imagination or provoke your thinking to new possibilities in your mind. It can certainly improve your reading skills over the long term.
Turn off the TV!