Enter the Caption Challenge

By Lauren McGrath

Captions and subtitles are a critical tool that makes information more accessible to those with hearing loss.

The technology is constantly evolving, especially real-time captioning that can be available on the go, often using smartphones.

The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act requires businesses and public venues to guarantee that people with hearing loss are not excluded from or denied services because of the lack of auxiliary aids, and this includes captioning.

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But sometimes the subtitles fall short, creating unintentionally funny gaffes that can end up going viral.

Without intending any criticism of this important accessibility method, which is so helpful for those with (and without) hearing loss to better understand speech, we are launching a fun contest— because everyone loves bloopers, and it’s a good reminder that captioning has actually improved by leaps and bounds.

Submit an original photo or screenshot of a memorable caption flub, and earn a chance to be featured in the Spring 2019 issue of Hearing Health and on our website.

The deadline has been extended! Visit to review the full contest rules and to enter. Submissions will be accepted until Friday, May 15.


Note: The contest is open to all individuals 18 years and older who subscribe to Hearing Health magazine via print (in the U.S.) or online (outside of the U.S.). Nonsubscribers are not be eligible for participation and any submission from a nonsubscriber will not be considered. To subscribe to the free quarterly, visit

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FCC Announces Intent to Automate Phone Captions

By Kathi Mestayer

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently announced in the Federal Register that it intends to allow telephone captions (IPCTS) to be 100 percent provided by automated speech-recognition (ASR) software. I wrote about how it's done currently by a human/software "team."

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The change would save money by making the role of the human captioning assistants optional. But nobody knows what the effect would be on caption quality, as there are no current standards for accuracy or delay in telephone captioning provided under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and regulated by the FCC.

Underscoring that issue is the letter posted by a group of consumer groups, which states:

"The Commission is putting the cart before the horse by allowing ASR-based IP CTS services without developing standards and metrics for the provision of IP CTS to ensure that consumers receive robust service from all providers, regardless of the underlying technologies used to provide the service. Inaccurate and unreliable IP CTS service stand to substantially harm consumers who rely on them for communications with family, friends, employers, and commercial transactions and lack the means to qualitatively compare services in advance."

That document, available online, was filed by the Hearing Loss Association of America, Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc., National Association of the Deaf, and Gallaudet University’s Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Technology for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

The public comment period for this proposed change is open until Sept. 17, 2018. You can submit a formal comment at the top of the page in the Federal Register that announces the proposal.

Kathi Mestayer is a Hearing Health magazine staff writer.

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