Closed captioning: Get it right, CRTC tells broadcasters
After filing more than 300 complaints about the quality of closed captioning on Canadian television, Henry Vlug has finally been heard.
Canada’s broadcast regulator said Thursday that television stations must improve the quality of their closed-captioning services, setting targets for both speed and accuracy for the first time.
People with hearing problems rely on on-screen text to follow dialogue on television, but have been long been frustrated by the mistakes made by both the hu mans and computers tasked with converting speech to text in real time.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has told broadcasters that, as of September, they must achieve 95-per-cent accuracy in their captioning and that text must not lag speech by more than six seconds.
“It’s rare to have a broadcast without any errors,” said Mr. Vlug, a retired Vancouver lawyer, who is hearing impaired. “The CRTC had a mostly hands-off policy, and would pass the complaint to the broadcaster and then accept whatever excuse they came up with.”
Any regulation at all is a major victory for the country’s deaf and hard-of-hearing, which have been fighting for higher standards since at least 1967, when the issue was first raised at a meeting of the Canadian Association of the Deaf.