‘Hard of hearing’ refers to people with hearing loss ranging from mild to severe. Were you aware that 360 million people all over the globe suffer from this widespread or even more profound disabling condition? Subtitles and closed captions prove to be of avail to these vulnerable social groups, making their lives easier. Staying abreast of what’s happening on the media scene integrates deaf and hard of hearing people into society in a most natural and delicate manner.
Has it come to your attention? *
- Over 5% of the world’s population – 360 million people – has disabling hearing loss.
- Disabling hearing loss refers to hearing loss greater than 40 decibels (dB) in the better hearing ear in adults and a hearing loss greater than 30 dB in the better hearing ear in children.
- Approximately one-third of people over 65 years of age are affected by disabling hearing loss.
- Current production of hearing aids meets less than 10% of global need.
* World Health Organization statistics
Subtitles compared with closed captions
Many people don’t make any difference between subtitles and closed captions. Both of them are synchronized with the media so the text can be viewed at the same time the words are spoken. And yet here comes the main difference:
- Subtitles are intended for viewers who can hear the audio but cannot understand the language spoken in the video.
- Closed captions, on the other hand, are intended for viewers who understand the language but can’t hear all that is spoken in the video. They communicate all audio information elements (music, sound effects, non-speech sounds, emotions and intonations).
The international emphasis of deaf people
The resolutions of the XVII World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf (gathered in Istanbul, Turkey, 28th July – 1st August 2015) called attention to deaf-centered pedagogy in teacher training and the promotion of visual learning and research in the education of deaf children and youth. The congress also affirmed that all emerging and current information and communication technology must include universal design features enabling deaf people to enjoy a full and barrier-free life.
We find adding closed captions to as many media products as possible a small but meaningful step in answering this call of social integration and humanity.