The Nightmares of HDTV and Captions

It looks like technology for the deaf and digital don’t get along. I remember back in the ’90s when my company’s phone lines went digital. Well, the TTY didn’t work with digital and the company had to install an analog line for me.
Last weekend, my husband went shopping for a new HDTV. He knew to check out the caption features and ensure it worked well. Unfortunately, what you see at the store isn’t necessarily what you get at home because it depends on your TV service provider.
So far, I’ve watched regular TV, DVD videos (using both captions and subtitles), TV shows recorded on DVR in standard format (instead of HD format — it was before we got the TV and besides, HD takes up more space). The captions are inconsistent in terms of font, size, formatting.

The TV comes with formatting options for captions, but based on its set up — it isn’t an active feature. So far, the best captions are English subtitles on a DVD. They’re larger and bolder. Though the font color is white (not the best for subtitling), it appears clearer than regular captions.
The best way to subtitle and caption is using a black background with white text — just like captions. It’s funny… when someone types in ALL CAPS, it bugs us because it comes across as shouting. Captions — most of the time — appear in all caps, but it never feels like shouting.
Anyway, I tried researching the Internet about captions and HDTV before we shopped for a TV. No information, whatsoever. However, once we bought a TV — I found info on captions in the TV’s online FAQ. Who has time to look up the user guide or FAQ for TV models? Best thing to is try to narrow the list of possibilities and check their user guide.
You’d think deaf technology would perform better with modern technology — but perhaps, the deaf technology industry isn’t keeping up with technology.


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    • Meow on December 6, 2007 at 9:13 am
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    You should be grateful that they provide closed captioned for the HDTV. I have DirecTV. The HD programs are awesome plus closed captioned too.
    Check customer’s report magazine. They’ll tell you which HDTV is the best. i have a 42″ HDTV Panasonic. They’re the best. Closed captioned is awesome. I have no problem with it at all.

  1. I am similarly surprised about Digital Projection Technology in theatres. We don’t have the capacity for open or rear window captioning on our new digital projectors. It should be s-i-m-p-l-e.
    They say it’s coming…..
    We kept some of our 35mm so we can show MoPix features, and the occasional film that is not digital, but….
    Digital Projectors, HDTV – why wasn’t this all worked out ahead of time? It’s not like tech makers don’t know about captions!

    • deafattemployee on December 6, 2007 at 9:43 am
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    if you have comcast dvr, you need to turn off and press “menu” button on. the feature for cc will show up on screen and you can turn cc on and u can modify your preference on that such as types of fonts, size, etc. once you finish selecting the cc program, u can re press on “menu” button to close down then you can turn dvr on. you should see cc on hdtv.
    personally i have two hdtvs with comcast dvrs at home for two years. they work just fine. my friends have DirectTv dvr with their HDTVs and they work just fine with CC.
    good luck.

    • ALAN JEFFERS on December 6, 2007 at 10:00 am
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    Thanks for information about closed caption. I never have one myself for HDTV so later one when I go buy any store first thing before check see if There is closed caption is on then we can buy closed caption but I remember Lucky in circuit city that I check talk dealer is there is closed caption
    He said nope I said fine look another tv that have closed caption so right Now brand new HDTV I thought what hd mean for tv I think it would be Called harley davidson tv is HDTV lol but to our deaf customer remember Check the hdtv show make sure there is closed caption then buy it right Aways is best than “donkey ass ” get home no closed caption on HDTV. Please think check have everything before buy HDTV. Some of tv no closed Caption fews of them. That I been hang store test them see closed captions I said ah , ah good for closed caption I see one of tv no closed caption I Said I wont buy those and store dealer got gulp on me. Cause of fcc must Closed caption.

  2. I highly recommend that you find the Oct/Dec 2006 issue of “The GA-SK” TDI’s Quarterly News Magazine.
    They cover a lot on this subject matter regarding Closed Captioning on HDTVs. I learned many new things in this issue.

  3. We had the same problem with our LG that we purchased last Christmas. Came home to find the captions were quite small with no way to adjust them except on a few channels.

    • J.J. Puorro on December 6, 2007 at 2:14 pm
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    Yup, I have a HDTV too…mine is an older model..about 4 years old..the built in CC decoder is analog and doesn’t work on HDTV channels and recently stopped working on regular channels (which went digital on my cable box recently I think). So, I have been using my cable box to provide captions ever since then. I had both comcast and time warner…comcast was much better as they offered a transparent black background…while time warner’s doesn’t seem to work.
    My advice is to continue to fiddle with all the settings until you find one you like.

  4. This is very good information as I am beginning to check out HDTV’s because mine is slowly going on the fritz and close captioning is something that is extremely important.

    • Lantana on December 11, 2007 at 5:03 pm
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    We do not yet have a HD t.v. but we are considering it, even tho our old 32 incher works just fine! In the past, I solved alot of problems by purchasing my t.v.’s from Sears Robuck Co. For a small fee they will bring the t.v. to your home and set it up and they do not leave until you are satisfied. I have been very happy with them.

  5. We have an HDTV hooked up with a cable box and a TiVo box. My techie husband can’t figure out how to get the DOUBLE captions off the screen. Thus, we watch tv with 2 sets of captions, one overlaying the other. It is so annoying. Anyone have this problem, tips??

    • Scott W. on December 13, 2007 at 12:19 pm
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    You can go into both menus in a Cable Box and TV set. Turn off one of them.
    Good luck,

  6. Ha, I just ran into the double caption issue today for the first time because our cable received a patch.
    Anyway, to fix it — all I did was turn off the captions on the cable and let the TV do the work.

    • Kevin Kwiecinski on January 9, 2008 at 10:15 am
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    I went to my brother’s house to watch NFL playoffs using HD feature like ESPN HD or FOX HD. Guess what?? The closed captioning does not work. I thought it is broken so I asked him to try regular channel without HD feature and it worked!!! No closed captioning on ESPN HD?? What about you? Does it work?

    • Meryl on January 9, 2008 at 10:17 am
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    It works — it depends on the service provider. Either you have to turn on the CC through the HDTV or through the service provider. I don’t remember which, but it works after playing with it. It also helps to look at the TV maker’s and service provider’s Web site FAQ. Some have info about captions.

    • Fred Burt on December 5, 2015 at 4:37 pm
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    I only have a problem with FOX Network…

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