Closed Captioned is a term I am very familiar with. I grew up with an older brother who was deaf, or hearing impaired so our televisions were always equipped with closed captioning devices. Other people may be more familiar with the idea of subtitles but it’s basically the same thing.

Even now when I watch shows or movies, I have closed caption on. I don’t need it but there are just sometimes when people mumble or maybe talk indistinctly when I would like the clarification that closed captioning can possibly provide. And I also love being able to see the lyrics to a new song for the first time….good way to learn the song faster. Every time I come across something that isn’t closed captioned…it makes me sad. Not for myself because obviously I can still enjoy it even if some of the words may be misinterpreted by my ears. It makes me sad for people like my brother who will not be able to enjoy the movie or the show that I am enjoying. Sure, he can read lips, but words aren’t always said in movies with the actor’s lips facing you.

But even closed captioning isn’t always the best way to find out about a movie….it can have errors, that’s for sure! Some of them are often comical to me, but then I start wondering, what do deaf people think of us when they read these captions? Do they think we are insane?

I have caught captions where the “typee” has substituted a totally different word than the one that was said….I have seen the captions completely gone haywire and reduced to utter gibberish, ex. aglkghegfdbgfsdd <—-I’m NOT joking!

I have seen shows where the captioning has gone from perfect to backwards. Ex: Has gone from perfect to backwards where the captioning I have seen shows. <—Again, I am serious. My husband and me came across this recently where I was reading it aloud and literally cracking up so hard I thought I might fall on the floor!

I have watched things where the captioning was really early….like on a results show where I knew the winner before they even announced it!….I have also seen captions really late where whoever was typing was trying to catch up and by doing so, left out sentences to get caught up. It’s no wonder to me how my brother sometimes words things differently when writing or typing. What kind of example does he have? Not to mention, the way everyone online speaks in codes and shorthand? Why should I be surprised????

You would think this would be the end of the mistakes I have found, but no. Far from it….Imagine watching a movie where they tried to bleep out the bad words or they voiced over a NEW word over the bad one? Well….sometimes the captioning doesn’t reflect that and the bad word is still shown. Imagine your kid asking why the captioning is cussing when the show isn’t!

And picture watching a news show where the captioning tells you people are against a dog….when it’s really a story where people are against God…..I mean, I know dyslexics sometimes see things this way…but what if you’re just deaf and NOT dyslexic and words are getting jumbled and put backwards like this? Why are people against this dog?

Or what about left out words? You might get a call from a deaf family member that just saw on the news where there was a bomb in school……when it was really just a bomb “threat” but the captioners just accidentally left the “threat” out? Do YOU see what I mean?

Imagine watching a show about a newborn being born where the captioning is behind and it goes to commercial. It’s an AT&T cell phone commercial but since the captions are behind, you are seeing cell phones while the caption is saying something of this nature: “I gave birth to a strapping 8 pound, 5 ounce baby boy and I couldn’t have been happier.” Hmmm…..Cell phones are really getting weird with their marketing strategies, aren’t they? Oh…and here’s a Colgate commercial where they are offering Iphones for $50 if you sign up now for AT&T!

I’m really thinking whoever does these closed captioned or subtitle writing jobs needs to work on it just a little harder, please…..Maybe the hearing people are just fine with poor writing but there are a lot of hearing impaired people who are having to deal with the messed up job of reading it! Which is why I think CC has come to stand more for Can’t Comprehend!

What do YOU think? Do you have an opinion about this? Maybe you don’t have a deaf family member or friend but you can try to imagine from their stand point at least.


  1. This was really interesting to read/learn about, I didn’t know a lot of that about closed captioning! I’ve seen some subtitled movies where the words don’t match up like you said, but it sounds like there can be all kinds of strange stuff going on with the captions! I usually don’t watch subtitles because the words distract me from looking at the picture on the screen, but I do think it is important that that option is available so those who are deaf can understand the movie. Great post!


    1. Nothing really surprises me anymore when it comes to what may show up in closed captioning….It’s become so much of a habit with me to use subtitles that I absolutely hate when things aren’t closed captioned. Maybe it’s because I grew up with it on ALL the time…..but it just seemed natural to me to have it.
      Because I have a deaf brother, it definitely makes me more aware of issues such as the closed captioning ones….I’ve also wondered why movie theaters don’t have some kind of caption aid for those who are deaf….I know they have special things for people that can’t hear well..not sure how they would accomplish it but I’ve always felt kind of sad at the thought that deaf people can’t really thoroughly enjoy movies in the theater unless it’s in a foreign language where they use subtitles….


      1. Yeah I know what you mean, since I have a brother with epilepsy among some other things I’m more aware of issues like that. I get kind of irritated when people joke about seizures after seeing so many of my brother’s growing up.


      2. Awww ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
        People can be so cruel…it makes me sad! I had a niece that had epilepsy as a child, but thankfully, she actually outgrew it. I didn’t even know that was possible until that happened with her….so sorry about your brother, that HAS to be scary. There’s so much people need to educate themselves about so they learn not to joke about this stuff!


  2. We often turn on sub-titles when watching movies for the same reason as you . . . to catch stuff that is mumbled at the camera instead of distinctly spoken.

    And I have noticed many of the things you have ~ substituted words, misspelled words, improper translations that change the meaning, etc. Most of them are minor glitches . . . and some are hysterical. ๐Ÿ˜€

    What impresses me is how movies like Harry Potter have umpteen different languages available in both spoken and subtitled language. Very awesome.


  3. We used closed caption to watch movies, since we often do that when the kids are sleeping and can’t have the TV or computer turned on as loud as we’d like. I would say most captions for movies are OK since there’s a long review process. As for live TV, the transcriptionist is a “pro” but still prone to errors. I can only imagine how stressful that job really is. Now, for the lack of sync between the show and the captions, my husband has told me before it’s a problem on the satellite or cable operator side. Their equipment has issues and they don’t know about it, or don’t care…

    I think closed caption is also great for people who are learning English (or Spanish) and for kids learning to read. I heard in Norway, they have closed captions on TV all the time, especially for shows in English, and their kids learn to read in both languages that way. Pretty interesting, huh?


    1. I had TV in Norway for a couple of months. They always had subtitles for shows in English (which I found very useful for helping me learn Norwegian ๐Ÿ™‚ and they also often had shows which were co-operations between Scandinavian countries, where the Danes and Swedes would be subtitled in Norwegian, but the Norwegians were not subtitled (which was odd for me as I then found the foreigners easier to understand than the Norwegians…). I never thought to turn on the extra subtitling and now I feel rather silly for having missed an opportunity…


      1. How funny about your situation in finding the “foreigners easier to understand than the Norwegians”!
        I never thought about how captioning could be used to help in learning a new language….this sounds like a very good idea! ๐Ÿ™‚


    2. Yea, that’s true with learning languages, sounds like a very good way of learning new ones ๐Ÿ™‚ Although with mistakes, it could be funny what you might accidentally learn!

      As for captions on TV, I know there are many reasons for the errors….I think ALL those affiliated with making sure the captions are up to standard SHOULD care more, though…..


  4. Wow, I have never thought of it this way before (it seems rather silly to me that I haven’t)! I used to watch TV with the closed captioning on when I was a kid because my mom talked on the phone A LOT. She’s mute the TV, so I’d turn on closed captioning . . . Eventually I started doing it for music videos too.

    I’ve seen many, though not all, of the mistakes you mentioned. They always made me laugh . . . Now I’m thinking about how awful it is for someone who can’t hear!

    I actually didn’t realize that there were still so many problems with closed captioning. I could understand it years ago when it was still fairly new, but in 2011? They couldn’t have gotten better at this by now?!


    1. That’s another reason for captioning….when you can’t hear the television because of noises around you. The mistakes will still crack me up but mostly cause I’m thinking that if my brother and sister in law were reading what I’m reading at THAT moment, they would be thinking, “Man, hearing people speak very strange!”
      But then I think of how when my brother is signing to my mom or writing her a message and he speaks in “broken sentences” as she calls them….it’s no wonder because imagine trying to learn English without being able to hear, learning the correct rules and then going home and seeing the captions all crazy…’s got to be confusing…..
      And in 2011….you WOULD think it had gotten better…..


  5. I know what you’re talking about as I have experienced same. I am watching a show right now with captions and a few words are off… Oh well, that’s life eh? ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Again, I’m catching up on blog comments after another long 4 day yoga retreat in Boston… I got back Thursday night to over a thousand emails. Will begin a marathon commenting effort shortly! TY! ๐Ÿ™‚


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