Air Travel Access – To Read and Take Action

May 30, 2013 Comments Off on Air Travel Access – To Read and Take Action

It’s past time to talk to everyone concerned about Captioning for Air Travel – due to some very important new developments.

a. For background, read this short post we published in January – as well as the comment there.

b. There’s a very important new Senate Bill 556 in the USA Congress, introduced by Sen. Harkin some months ago – and there is movement on it now. If you look at the information below, you’ll see that CCAC was one of the first to comment on the Senate website Senator Harkin has. He also has a facebook page. We are aiming to talk with him and others to develop some ground-swell on this. Let’s collaborate! Email us at

c. CCAC members are considering a new Flyer for this. It’s low or no cost, easy to create, and easy to distribute. Who wants to help with design or other campaign aspects of this Email

d. Let’s discuss here, in CCAC membership online (for members we have a great google group – join the CCAC first (free) – then you are also subscribed for one email a day, none, or all messages)….

e. What else do you think will be needed to see this Bill become law? As you know, there are many steps in the process.

f. The Bill is for everyone – international too – since it concerns all flights entering or leaving from the USA.

Looking forward to your comments and energies.


Earlier information on the CCAC Web – look over the tabs for Advocacy and Resources (Transportation). The listings of many airlines and access are not all and we welcome new information to add there at any time. There are also new discussions on social media. If you are involved in one, please email to advise us with the web address for it.

First, the new Senate Bill 556 – Senate Bill 556 for Air Travel Access with captioning. Many letters of support please!

And, ADA, Air Carriers Access Act Amendments Introduced by Senator Harkin Would Require Captions, Video Description in Movie Theaters, on Flights, Press release issued March 13, 2013

 NB: CCAC focus here is for Air Travel – there are two separate bills, not to confuse them since both need citizen support and both important, the other one for cinema – on land, not in the air)

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), long-time champion of the rights of people with disabilities and author of the Americans with Disabilities Act, has introduced new amendments to the ADA and to the Air Carriers Access Act to expand access to media. These new bills promise to fully include people with sensory disabilities in two key venues for entertainment and information: movie theaters and airlines. They require captions and video description in movie theaters as well as in-flight entertainment, and include provisions for making seat-back touch-screens accessible on airlines.

Press release from the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP):


Next, more from the CCAC web resources on AIR TRAVEL:

 Joint campaigns with other organizations welcome. Notify us of any corrections needed.Air Travel - lots of interest in access with Captions for Movies on board, TV shows on board, Airport and airline announcements. Domestic and International flights, both. Please share anything you know here - in discussion in CCAC and needs a team to develop the start of an advocacy campaign. Complex issues, yet can be quite simple campaign to start with to raise awareness and advocate. Discuss here or email to

Air Travel – lots of interest in access with Captions for Movies on board, TV shows on board, Airport and airline announcements. Domestic and International flights, both.  One good report for USA here:
Please share anything you know via email to CCAC, in addition to below.  Needs a team to develop the start of an advocacy campaign. Complex issues, yet can be quite simple campaign to start with to raise awareness and advocate. Discuss here or email to with your ideas and action plans.
On board flights, there are safety instructions, TV shows, films, and announcements from the crew. CCAC suggests all need access via quality captioning.
United -4/13 report from CCAC friend that Direct TV on overseas flights now have cc (for television programs). Re films, information requested….
American – no captions except for safety instructions (domestic and international)
Delta – Delta has added captioning in English and either Spanish or the language of destination to all safety demonstration videos. No information re TV or films on board.
(Delta on long haul flights – unclear info even re safety videos).
Swiss Air has excellent cartoons for the safety instructions, in three languages (English, French, Italian);
Royal Thai airlines flight safety instruction has both sign language and captioning.
Cathay Pacific is reported to have some captioning.
El Al has Hebrew captions in its in-flight movies.
BA shows captioned movies/films on many flights. Recent flight Boston USA to London UK had 4 of 41 films with subtitles.
Emirates shows captioned films also it’s reported.
Qantas ditto for films on international flights.
More on Qantas from CCAC member 4/13:QANTAS displays captions on screens in the terminal as well as captions for the news bulletin which is for domestic flights only. The quality of the captions in-flight are excellent because they are pre-captioned, whereas in the terminal the captions are generally live and the quality is variable.  This occurred many years ago and was facilitated by Media Access Australia’s late Chairman, who had worked for QANTAS in a senior role.QANTAS have also recently been trialing use of iPads and Apple devices on some flights with a new audiovisual streaming service. QANTAS had not turned on the ‘Voice Over’ function and this was picked up by Australia’s Disability Discrimination Commissioner, who  is blind and travels exclusively with QANTAS.
Virgin ditto for films.
All Nippon Airways (ANA) with United: Washington D.C. to Taipei, Taiwan: Neither IAD, Tokyo Narita, and Taipei Taoyuan international airports had captioning of intercom announcements. Videtaped safety instructions with captioning on newer United planes.
(Reporter believes new United plane also had U. S. movies with captions – yet not confirmed). Show, e.g. Japanese films with English subtitles.
Air Canada safety videos are bi-lingual (English/French), and so are the captions.
and AC domestic flights have French language movies (mostly from Quebec) that are captioned in English.International flights add a selection of “world” movies, also captioned.
JetBlue (Boston to Florida) – no captioning, no video at all for safety instructions.
American Airlines – domestic? international? no information yet…
British Air information – they say they will update soon, e.g. see
NB: not all flights for any airline as above; depends on age of plane and the route perhaps, yet it’s good to know it is there and important to mention it/advocate for your self and others if it’s missing)
Reported that…many “long haul” flights (out of UK, Australia, and ?) have captioning on TV programs on board, e.g. British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Air France, Qantas
 Continental flights – Closed caption TV available on Continental flights January 7, 2012 (and later in 2011 on some routes); domestic only – need info re full length films, anyone?
Request for information about systems on board, e.g. if cc used for TV, can it be used for movies/films during flight too? or ?
Feb 2013: Egypt Air
Flight from London to Cairo – Cairo to Luxor – Luxor to London
They are no captions in English for safety and films.
Films advertise caption in English did not work only Arabic showing captions.
Access and clear communication awareness – poor

Access to safety instruction – spoken English and Arabic – sign language in Arabic
Monitor at back seat going out to Cairo – showing voice instruction in English and Arabic, Arabic signing in small box (too small) No access to safety for d/Deaf westerner travellers
No monitor from Cairo to Luxor and Luxor to London – monitor from ceiling too small to see signer and again lack safety instruction for d/Deaf westerners travellers

CCAC also participated in this earlier effort, see – Anyone have an update on this?



Deaf, Deafened, HOH Bloggers Rock!

May 25, 2013 § 8 Comments

There are so many great blogs written by hoh/deaf/deafened folks today – wonder how many there are globally.

What’s your guess?

Our hunch is that there are at least 500 – maybe hundreds more. How to find them all?!?

CCAC members write some fantastic stuff. Volunteer invited anytime to keep track of it all. It’s not all about captioning, yet some are, some are listed here on the CCAC blog – roll, and some are about a whole range of issues of interest to most of us.

Outstanding in current times are Shanna Groves’ “Lip Reading Mom” (USA) and Charlie Swinbourne’s “Limping Chicken” in the UK.  I know I should mention all of them on the CCAC blogroll. They are all good!

Add your favorites here, and volunteer to find all hundreds?

ls/ccac – national, international (official non-profit, all volunteers) – CaptionMatch, the place to find captioning providers, just ask (service of the CCAC)

“Don’t Leave Me Out!” short film with subtitles in many languages – if you care about inclusion, please share –

Deafness and Life

May 14, 2013 Comments Off on Deafness and Life

Something different for the middle of May – this article catches our attention today:


painting by Mary Cassat


Health Care (along with so much of everyday life) depends on good communications, others to help, and compassionate human relationships.

It’s not about Captioning yet mentions deafness, and as you might predict, we wonder if real-time captioning from a professional might have eased the burdens on both mother and daughter during end of life care. As many know, there are so many variables involved, so many choices to make, and it’s very complex.

As people live longer and longer, with all sorts of chronic conditions and new disabilities also, technology advances must be harnessed to enhance life, and end-of-life too.

******************************************************************************************************************************************************* – the place where you belong if you care about equality of access with inclusion of quality captioning.

Please read the updated homepage of the CCAC website.

Need captioning or CART from anyplace in the USA or other countries? Consider using, a service from the CCAC, an official non-profit organization, all volunteers.

Fun Facts? Worth Reading about Aging…and Hearing Loss

May 9, 2013 Comments Off on Fun Facts? Worth Reading about Aging…and Hearing Loss

Consider this fact sheet about the growing population of aging in the USA:

And recall that up to 65% of all adults age 65 and older have a hearing loss.

CCAC Mission = Inclusion of Quality Captioning Universally.


CaptionMatch Flyer to join hundreds of advocates – free membership to make your request – the sooner the better

Hot News Online – Thanks to Reuters from CCAC Captioning Advocates

May 9, 2013 Comments Off on Hot News Online – Thanks to Reuters from CCAC Captioning Advocates

CCAC has just learned that REUTERS online has captioning on all media online – way to go REUTERS news!

Go to


go to: cn=share&cid=1073408&shareToken=MzU0Mzk6MjhjZWQ1MzctMjViOS00ODUxLWJlYjItNGIxOTdjYjgxNTY2&playerName=ReutersNews

Be advised that the entire video may not be available to all without a subscription – yet for now, as far as we can tell, it seems it’s open to share with all.


We clicked in the small cc button lower right – and then quickly on all shows. The captioning started (small yet you can increase your screen size).

If they truly have this on all videos now, a good step for ALL NEWS online to follow soon.

Say thanks to Reuters from the CCAC! The place to be for Captioning Advocacy. CCAC is a hub – not an exclusive club – we welcome all who support the mission. Join soon, Free membership – go to HTTP://CCACAPTIONING.COM

Need Captioning or CART? Register on HTTP://CAPTIONMATCH.COM – a service to support CCAC volunteers.

CCAC Member Knows Her CART — Real Time Captioning From an Expert View

May 7, 2013 Comments Off on CCAC Member Knows Her CART — Real Time Captioning From an Expert View

Borrowing from an expert – about the skills of a CART professional.

Thresholds and Tolerance

 I’m not a fan of starting a blog post by quoting the definition of the topic in question; it’s virtually always just a lazy attempt to co-opt some of the dictionary’s presumed authority or credibility and doesn’t add anything of substance to the author’s argument. That said…
“Tolerance is the permissible limit or limits of variation in a measured value or physical property of a material, manufactured object, system, or service. […] A variation beyond the tolerance […] is said to be non-compliant, rejected, or exceeding the tolerance.”

I’m quoting this definition because it refers to a specific technical meaning of an otherwise well known word. Most people aren’t familiar with the word “tolerance” used in this sense, but it’s a useful concept not just in mechanical engineering but in the provision of transcription services for Deaf and hard of hearing students and professionals. In my CART Problem Solving series, I addressed the popular misconception that a tolerance of 90% accuracy was acceptable, because most people think of 90 and 100 as rather large numbers that are pretty much equivalent to each other, even though language is such a fine-grained system that 100 words constitutes only about a paragraph of text, and a 90% error rate works out to an error in just about every sentence. I also talked about the ways in which human captioners are able to use lateral context clues to fill in the gaps of non-ideal audio conditions, while outside of a perfectly amplified, perfectly enunciated standard American accent, automated speech recognition systems go from almost adequate to laughably awful perilously quickly.

Tolerance enters the captioning sphere in other cases as well. Speed, for instance; if a professor’s average rate of speed is 160 words per minute (quite a bit below the typical rate of speech, which tends to be between 180 and 220 WPM), a stenocaptioner (AKA a CART provider like me) with a speed of 240 words per minute will be able to achieve virtually 100% accuracy, because any errors can be immediately caught and corrected. A text expansion provider (using a system such as C-Print or Typewell) may have a speed of 140 words per minute or so, which means that if the professor’s rate stays completely steady all the way through, they will probably be able to capture a good 85% of what’s spoken. Since they’re human and not just a mindless speech recognition system, they will give preference to writing down important things (names, technical terms, relationships between concepts), and will try to make sure that the remaining 15% of speech that they’re too slow to capture consists mainly of “Um”, “Uh”, “You know”, repeated words, irrelevant asides, and inefficient phrasing that can be tightened up and paraphrased to use fewer keystrokes. In some cases, that will be enough. The professor’s speed will never rise above 160 WPM throughout the entire class, and there will be plenty of chaff to ignore, leaving enough time to take down the important content, even though the provider’s writing speed is lower than the professor’s average rate of speech. By contrast, the stenocaptioner will probably choose to leave out the “Um”, “Uh”, and “You know” sorts of filler words for clarity’s sake, but will not omit repeated words or attempt to paraphrase the professor’s wording, no matter how inefficient it might be. Stenocaptioners are focused on providing a verbatim realtime stream, only omitting words that add absolutely no value to understanding, while text expansion providers are focused on tightening up whatever they hear so that it can be written in as few keystrokes as possible. So far, so good. This is a case where stenocaptioning and text expansion are more or less equivalent, and the difference lies mostly in whether the client wants the pure, unmediated words of their professors to interpret for themselves, or whether they’d rather have a condensed version of the information delivered in class, more along the lines of the bullet points on a PowerPoint slide.

Change any of the factors in play, and the results will be very different. For instance, say the professor’s average rate of speed is still 160 words per minute, but that’s because his rate is 135 when he’s writing formulas on the board (about half the class) and 185 when he’s explaining what the formulas mean (the other half of the class). Or it’s 140 for long stretches at a time, when he’s lecturing on the information mandated by the syllabus, but it shoots up to 200 for brief moments, when he gets excited about a particular detail of whatever he’s talking about. The stenocaptioner, whose top speed is 240 WPM, is still able to get 100% in all of these situations. The text expansion provider, on the other hand, will be able to handle the 135 WPM formula sections almost perfectly, but will start cutting or condensing words and phrases from the 185 sections, and will be forced to leave out over a quarter of the material from the 200 WPM sections. If this particular professor has a tendency to repeat words, insert lots of filler words, pause between sentences to take a drink of water, or otherwise speak in a lightweight, inefficient way, the text expansion provider might be able to deliver a workable portion of the class’s important material, because there will be enough less important stuff they can cut out and still have enough reserve speed to write down the good parts.

If, on the other hand, the professor is an accomplished speaker, who says precisely what she means in precisely the way she means it, if her lectures are a constant stream of dense technical jargon and precise, specific descriptions of how everything fits together, if there’s no chaff or filler to cut out and no awkward repetitions to rephrase… The text expansion provider is out to sea. They’ve got to start cutting important material in favor of leaving in vital material, and that becomes a dangerous guessing game when it comes to the grade of the student they’re transcribing for. Text expansion services acknowledge this to a certain extent; they tend to say that CART is recommended when the material is technical or highly precise, such as in the graduate and professional programs that I specialize in. And admittedly, there are some classes and some subjects and some professors where a 140 WPM typing speed, as slow as it is when compared to a stenocaptioner’s 240 WPM typing speed, is enough to deliver most important material given in the class.

The question is: How do you tell which situation you’re dealing with? If you’re a disability director and you’re trying to decide between hiring a text expansion provider or a certified CART provider for a given student’s schedule of classes, it may seem obvious to choose the former, since text expansion services are cheaper and more widely available. But have you audited the professors in all of the classes in question? Does their average speed always stay under that 160-180 WPM sweet spot? Is there enough extraneous speech to discard and paraphrase without losing important information? Are there ever spikes of higher speeds, and if there are, can you guarantee that none of that high speed material will appear on the test? Have you checked to make sure that there won’t be any guest lecturers or student presentations during the course of the semester? Guest experts, since they’re not used to speaking for students, tend to speak at 200 to 220 WPM or higher. One that I transcribed a few years ago spoke at 280 WPM, and I found myself starting to do the same sort of paraphrasing and chaff cutting that my text expansion colleagues do as a matter of course. I think I managed a good 90% to 95% of relevant material given in that lecture. But I didn’t reach that paraphrasing threshold until I encountered a speaker at the high end of the rate-of-speech bell curve; for text expansion providers, it’s their starting point. They don’t have any speed in reserve, and if there’s nothing extraneous to cut out, they start losing important material very quickly. Give them a 280 WPM speaker, and they’re now losing a full 50% of everything that’s spoken.

Of course, you could make the argument that most students without hearing loss don’t take in 100% of every lecture. They might daydream or nod off, experience a moment of inattention, miss a word or two here or there while skimming through their notes from the class before. Even without getting every word of every lecture, many students do quite well. But where’s the cutoff? How many words can you lose and still receive equal access? Which words can you leave out and which must you absolutely leave in? Who do you trust to make that call? It all comes down to tolerance.

It’s Such a Hassle! Who Do You Think You Are!?

May 1, 2013 Comments Off on It’s Such a Hassle! Who Do You Think You Are!?

We recently published an article called “The Case for Captioning”  ( 12 reasons people hesitate to ask for captioning or CART they need and deserve, when it’s the best effective communication medium for them.

Continuing to talk to CCAC members and others about this, here’s an update:

People who need Captioning say,

“It’s so much hassle!”

“It’s too confusing.”

“Too many gray areas in the law! Do I really need it?” 

Someone who is asked for Captioning inclusion says,”How dare you ask – why are you criticizing me?!”

…and then rants, criticizing you. 

The final line above is thankfully very rare, yet it happens and it damaging. Even while it’s most likely behavior of a confused person, it results in retreat for self-protection, similar to when someone is bullied. It inhibits asking for access. The question was, “Are there captions for this?” followed by verbal attack.

That person needed a hug!

snoopy hug

The reasons people don’t ask seem to boil down to this – they don’t arrive at full communication access because it’s still a huge hassle to find out where the law applies, they don’t know if they deserve it (due to some residual hearing though speech in many settings in incomprehensible), and they shy away from potential attack (since it actually happens).

The variety of different options for the variety of we millions with hearing loss is also part of the confusion. With a lot of marketing of hearing aids, loops, implants and more, what’s a person with hearing loss to do? While these devices help many, most people who use them also use Captioning in many group situations.

CCAC supports people having choices, encourages use of whatever technologies help the individual, and at the same time, our focus is on captioning inclusion needed by so many and lacking in so many places.  How do we convince others?


(And then there are people who do understand – even if skeptics earlier! see for a report from the UK)


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