Broadcast Captioning

Broadcast captioners provide captions for live television programming so deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers can easily read what is being said.

Broadcast captioners are often court reporters who are working on the side to provide real-time captioning for live TV broadcasts. These broadcasts can include sporting events, speeches, news events, or awards shows airing on local stations, national networks or cable channels. (Recorded TV broadcasts are captioned before airing.)

During live captioning, the court reporter listens to the broadcast and types the spoken words into a stenotype machine, which uses software to add the captions to the television signal. The captioning aids viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing to understand the broadcasts, although it’s also helpful for people trying to learn English, those watching TV in a noisy environment and those who want to avoid making noise while watching TV.

Broadcast captioning is an in-demand field, with the Telecommunications Act of 1986 mandating that all new television programming has to be closed-captioned. Although there are currently around 30 million deaf and hearing-impaired people living in the US, more than 100 million Americans use closed-captioning every year. That figure accounts for the 30 million for whom English is a second language, plus another 40 million-plus who use it for its convenience.

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