February 23, 2013
Image Credits: BlueBuddies.com
Have you clicked on the language or special features section of a DVD menu lately? If so then you may have noticed under the languages next to the English option it says in parenthesis “for the hearing impaired” or “for the hard of hearing”. I’ve been picking up on this more and more lately. I honestly don’t remember the last time I watched a movie where it listed the English subtitles/caption as just “English” and not “English for the hearing impaired” or “English For The Hard of Hearing”.
This is really beginning to bother me. Yes, I am hearing impaired. From a legal standpoint, I am deaf since I have a hearing loss of greater than 90 db. I rely on subtitles/captioning to hear movies/TV and ALWAYS use that option when watching DVDs. If a DVD doesn’t have that option I don’t watch it. I can hear the sounds coming from the TV without captioning/subtitles, but I can’t make out what the characters are saying without it. It’s all just noise.
Image Credits: CollectionDx.com
However, I don’t think I’m alone in my use of subtitles/closed captioning. Sure, it’s targeted at and a miracle for those belonging to the deaf/hearing impaired community, but we’re not the only ones that use it. What about those who are from a different country and have a hard time understanding what the characters are saying without seeing the text? Or maybe from another standpoint, what about those who may be unable to play sound for whatever reason (perhaps broken speakers, or maybe they are in an area where someone is on the phone or has another reason for needing the sound off) and they still want to follow through with the show?
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To see “English for the hearing impaired” or “English for the hard of hearing’ listed on the DVD menu almost seems offensive. I mean, there’s an option for Spanish and sometimes even French or Portugal subtitles/captioning but they don’t say “for the hearing impaired” or “for the hard of hearing” next to them. No, they just simply state the language.
Image Credits: HitchCockWiki
Do we really need to have those words next to it? Do we really need to point out in the DVD menu that this feature is targeted for deaf/hard of hearing? No, it’s all completely unnecessary and by writing that it almost seems like DVD makers are saying “Hey, look we have hearing impaired/hard of hearing viewers who are different. Let’s tell the world that they are different and not the same”. That doesn’t seem fair to me.
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My grandfather wasn’t hearing impaired at all; never wore hearing aids. We didn’t have our hearing loss/abilities in common then, but we did both share a mutual love for closed captioning services. He liked to use the feature because sometimes it seems like characters/tv personalities are mumbling and/or aren’t speaking clearly and it’s hard to understand what they are saying. With the captioning you can read the words you may not be able to understand or hear — something everyone, regardless of hearing level, can come to appreciate.
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So DVD makers, here’s my plea to you to stop adding the “for the hearing impaired” or “for the hard of hearing” next to your English option for subtitles/captioning on the DVD features menu. We know we have choices and that we can choose to turn the subtitles on or off and we all have different reasons for choosing this feature regardless or how well we can or can’t hear. Save yourself the time and effort and don’t bother to include those words.
Image Credits: DVDActive.com