September 30, 2011

Letter From Greg Hlibok About Censored Closed Captions Issue

**UPDATE: Issue has been resolved.**

Letter from Greg Hlibok to Don Grushkin concerning the censored closed captions issue. Thanks for sharing Don.

Hi Don,

This is a response for you and everyone else who has interest in this matter. Thus, feel free to post this on your blog.

It was brought to my attention that misinformation about the FCC’s closed captioning rules has found its way onto a blog. I hope to clarify the information about the FCC’s closed captioning rules so everyone will have accurate information.

The issue of censorship had not been contemplated in the FCC’s past rulemaking proceedings on closed captioning. Because of this, the closed captioning rules are silent about censorship. Broadcasters, satellite and cable providers must comply with all of the Commission’s regulations about what is required or disallowed to be conveyed to consumers’ televisions. This includes rules regarding indecent or profane language and images. Some of these rules have different standards as to what is permissible depending on the time of day when the program is aired.

Often a show containing indecent or profane language in the audio track originally airs later at night, when such language is allowed, and is then rebroadcast on another day at an earlier time with a “cleaned up” audio track. It is our understanding that some program producers, using an abundance of caution to comply with the indecency rules, have established contracts with the captioning service provider to produce one captioned version of the program that contains modified, or “cleaned up” language so as to meet the standard required during prime-time programming – the times when children and families are most likely to be watching the TV show. This arrangement allows the program to be aired at any time (day or night) using only one captioned version of the program. The FCC does not regulate the agreements between the program producers and the caption companies as long as they are not in violation of the Commission’s rules. That being said, the Commission’s rules define closed captioning to be “The visual display of the audio portion of video programming pursuant to the technical specifications set forth in part 15 of this chapter.” Airing the “cleaned up” captions on the version of the program that does not contain the “cleaned up” track, may not be appropriate. It is an issue we are looking into.

In order to be informed about proceedings in the Commission and particularly in the Disability Rights Office, you may subscribe to our email listserv by sending an email to This is a great way to be informed about any proposed rule changes related to closed captioning and access to communications technologies for persons with disabilities. We welcome you to file comments to weigh in with your position on any matters under consideration.

Thanks for bringing this important matter to my attention.


Viral Videos Interpreted!

I love viral videos. I love it even more when they are interpreted in sign language! Check out this interpreted viral video, David After the Dentist, from Viral Signs:

(via DeafTV, interpreted by Wing Butler)


Response to Hearing Sparks' Excellent Post

Hearing Sparks wrote a great post about how hearing loss can be inconsistent for her. Sometimes she can hear certain sounds, and other times not so much. It depends on a lot of factors. Below is an excerpt of her post:

Hearing loss can be a really tricky thing. One of the trickiest things I have found to grasp about hearing loss is how it's not always consistent.

For example, just because I heard someone speaking at a certain tone of voice once and was able to understand them doesn't mean I will be able to understand them the next time they speak. Or because I was able to tell where a sound came from once doesn't mean I can do it again. Read more . . .
Here is my response to this (for some reason the comment box kept gobbling up my comments. I don't think they went through):

I can relate. For me, proximity can make a difference. I was just explaining to a teacher the other day about why I cannot hear a certain timer when it goes off. It produces a very high pitch sound. Its frequency is probably in the areas my right ear has a severe hearing loss in (my left ear is profoundly deaf to these sounds). However, when I brought the timer close to my right ear, I could somewhat hear it. If I don't wear my hearing aid, I will not hear it, no matter how close I bring the object to my ear. It is weird.

Yes, you are right, hearing loss is inconsistent. It depends on a number of factors. It is very hard to explain this to others who don't understand.

It can be frustrating, but it can be humorous and a blessing sometimes. I was lucky that I could not hear the timer go off in a classroom, while everyone else were driven crazy by it, until someone finally found it.  : )


September 29, 2011

More Signed Stories For Children (BSL and ASL)

Here are a few more good websites offering free children's stories that are narrated in sign language.

          I love the signed versions of Owl Babies and Not Now, Bernard.

        One of my favorites from this site: Eric Carle's Very Hungry Caterpillar, narrated by Keith Wann:


          September 28, 2011

          PBS Kids' Cornerstones: 3 Stories Narrated in ASL, SEE, and Cued English

          Cornerstones from PBS Kids has three different stories narrated in SEE, ASL, and Cued English/Speech.

          This site is a little hard to navigate, in my opinion. When you go to the homepage, click on one of the three stories by 'The Teaching Units' (bottom right). When you are on the page of one of the stories, click on 'Story' (top middle, by 'Games'). You should see some links for downloading the video of the story in ASL, SEE, and/or Cued Speech. To download the videos, you will need QuickTime Player.

          Link to website:

           Picture from one of the stories narrated in Cued English.