Take a behind-the-scenes look at closed captioning on TV and other devices.

Discover how closed captioning works on TV and other streaming services here.In 1979, the Federal Communications Commission formed the National Captioning Institute (NCI), a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and providing access to closed captioning. The first-ever closed-captioning programs were broadcast on TV on March 16, 1980, paving the way for universally-accessible closed captioning to help those with hearing loss and others enjoy television programming.

But what exactly is closed captioning, and how does it work on your TV or other streaming services? Learn more about this innovative technology that made programming more accessible for all below.

What is closed captioning?
The closed captioning symbol is easily recognizable with two capital letter Cs.Closed captioning (or CC as it is abbreviated) displays written text with video to provide interpretive information. Dialogue, footsteps, and other sounds translate into words to make it easier to follow along while watching the video. While many people with hearing loss find captions helpful, this feature is also useful in environments or situations where you cannot listen to the audio, such as an airport. And as people consume more video content online, many opt to watch programs muted with closed captions to bridge the gap in understanding beyond the visuals.

How does closed captioning work on TV?
Closed captioning is either in a recorded (offline) format or live (in real-time). Most TV programming captions are pre-recorded offline. For captions to show up on your television screen at the right time, the captioning is embedded in the television signal and becomes visible when a special decoder built directly into the TV activates. While most newer shows and movies are set up for captioning, some older programming created before regulation may not have this option. You can tell whether or not a particular program offers captions by reviewing your TV listings. Captioned programs are marked as “CC.”

For live broadcasts or special events, the way closed captioning works on TV is a little different. Instead of being pre-recorded, they appear just a few seconds behind the action. This delay is because a stenographer will listen to the live broadcast in real-time and type the words into a special computer program that adds the captions to the television signal. These typists are highly skilled in spelling and have to be very fast and accurate to keep up with live programming!

Where else can I use captioning?
Your TV isn’t the only place you will find captions. Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, social media sites like Facebook, and even telephones offer their own captioning to increase accessibility. CapTel captioned telephones for hearing loss provide captions of every word your caller says, so you never miss a word. Whether you’re consuming video or television or are in a public place, the chances are that there is a captioning option available to you.

In this article, we explored how closed captioning works on TV and other services. Since the 1980s, this technology has helped people access movies, TV, and other programming easily and conveniently. Next, check out our infographic on how to turn closed captions on your TV.

To learn more about how a captioned telephone can help you or someone you care about catch every word over the phone, call 800.233.9130 or visit CapTel.com today.

CapTel Captioned Telephone