Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on July 20, 1975 · Page 72
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July 20, 1975

Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 72

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Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, July 20, 1975
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Page 72
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Page 72 article text (OCR)

Captioned TV way to enlarge world for deaf By Lee Margilks LOS ANGELES .1* - Imagine watching your favorite television show. Suddenly there is an interruption and the words "news bulletin" or "emergency weather advi- , sory" appear on the screen. And then the sound goes out. You run to the radio. No sound there either. You pick up the phone but can't reach anyone who can tell you what is happening. ..Time to panic? It's always like that for Nancy Lipschultz and untold numbers of other television viewers who are deaf. "It's frightening. Frightening," says Mrs. Lipschultz, who lives in Chicago. "I'm ready to tear the hair out of my head. Sometimes, I'm actually in tears. I do not know where to run or hide." The problem is that most TV stations do not cater to the needs of the deaf and hard of hearing. A few run printed captions to accompany the voices of news announcers, but they are in a distinct minority. Most either aren't equipped to make the captions or think the delay too costly in competitive terms - considerations which obviously are given precedence over the Federal Communications Commission's 1970 recommendation that captions be used for urgent news announcements. News bulletins are only an example. The same attitude extends to all areas of television programming^ Carol McEvoy thinks she knows why. ' "Deaf people don't show up in the · ratings," she says. " . . . So com- taercially, deaf people are just not considered important." ' Mrs. McEvoy is one of a handful of interpreters given a few minutes ton some local stations to summa, 'iize the news in sign language. The daughter of deaf parents t she was ' hired at local Channel KTTV in Los Angeles after the deaf community made known the panic its members ' ' felt in the wake of the earthquake iofFeb. 9,1971. ? , Ask' her why deaf people watch television in the first place, and she stares in disbelief for several long 'moments. Then she says: "When you're deaf, everything .you learn - any input at all- goes through your sense of touch, your ;smell, your eyes. You absorb everything you can through your eyes. "But there. are ; not a lot of aven-, uei open. You'haye reading and you have pictures. Television is a combination of the printed word and pictures so you utilize what's in front of you." Dr. Edgar L. Lowell, director of the John Tracy Clinic in Los An : - geles and an internationally known authority on teaching the deaf, confirms that many deaf persons do watch television. It's part of -the American culture even if they can't get much out of it, he said. And though Lowell's personal opinion is that the deaf areh't missing much in most commerical television fare, he believes broadcasters · · · · ' · - · should be. doing more to let them _ , experience TV. : ':·**· _ ·The answer would seem to be subtitles - diajoguerit,ten at the ~ bottom of the screen, just as it is iri foreign films. ' The Public Broadcasting Service has been experimenting with subtitles since 1972. and, presently is offering its affiliatesUS episodesi of /"Feeling Good" in "this form. Upcoming segments of the "Nova" se- SHOW TIME, JULY 20,1975 ries also will be subtitled. PBS also offers a late night captioned version of the ABC news shtow that is shown over that net- w6rk earlier in the evening. · T . These programs are being broadcast with what PBS calls "open captions,'' meaning everyone who watches sees the subtitles. To satisfy the non-deaf who find the print distracting, each episode is being offered twice a week - once with captions and once without. PBS already has tested successfully the technique of transmitting "closed captions," scrambling the subtitles into the electronic televis- .CUARAMT«D- HOTTOIEAK ing signal so that only viewers with special decoding devices hooked to their TV sets see the words. For everyone else, the picture is normal. Doris C. Caldwell, coordinator of the ; PBS project, reports that the network is now petitioning the FCC for permission to put the decoding devicje into mass production for the nation's 10 million or so deaf. · cost of about $250. Gallaiidet College, an institution for the i deaf, evaluated audience reaction at the 12 PBS test sites last year and reported that 95 per. cent of jthe deaf viewers indicated a desire to own.a decoder. "Some of them said it was the first time TV ever made sense to them," fcaid Anderson. \ Mrs. ,Caldwell says ABC, CBS and NB'c, along with British and Canadian television networks, have expressed interest in the system. Arid PBS is perfectly willing to make all if its data available to them, shelsays, for a very.gobd reason. ''· "Prime time," says Mrs. Caldwell, "that!s the name of the game. "Television in prime time for hearing-imparied people, so they can sit down in front of the set at the same, time as their neighbors and not have to wait until 11 p.m. or some ungodly hour to see something specially prepared for them." Ev Anderson, director of engineering at KCET, the PBS outlet in Los Angeles, viewed the system --«m.m.m«mm when it was being tested for sever- MSRMBMfiaMMSBHMWW^M"*TM"^"TM" al months last year and said he f fi£T A gK OISCO UKT ON CENTRAL AR CONMTION1G thinks the decoding devices will be 5 " ll " ...... available within a few years at a ^§} I n ·»·· ·Fiwwww" · »·· w»« · ····· ···» -- »..--.-- AND HEATING If YOU ACT NOW CONTINUOUS ALUMINUM GUTTER Made on the Job to Fit {[WANTED Carrier « Ow woife «ew* Uhdul*. 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