Your View: Deaf Viewers Seek Online Captions

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COLUMBIA - Although St. Louis resident Thomas Green can access closed captioning on his television, as a deaf viewer, he is disappointed he can't read along with online videos.

"I have yet to see any TV station that has captioning on their video clips," Green said. "As long as there's captioning on the airwaves, there needs to be captioning on the Internet."

While text is available with KOMU 8 News and other online stories, Green said he would still prefer captioning. "I want to know what's being said, and reading the transcript is not the same."

Green is not the only deaf viewer frustrated with the lack of captioning in online video content. Members of the deaf community took to Twitter this week to voice their opinions in a national campaign.

The #captionTHIS Day of Action took place Wednesday. Deaf activists called for a nationwide campaign in which deaf viewers tweeted at media companies and news organizations using the hashtag "#captionTHIS." The tweets asked those companies to add captions to videos they post online.

Activists behind the campaign also asked participants to contact companies directly via their websites in a Deaf Politics blog post.  

KOMU 8 Director of Audience Development Matt Garrett said the station is currently working with its content management system developer to come up with an online captioning system. Garrett is not sure of the time line on this, but said the station hopes to start it soon. 

"I think we've always been out front in terms of our on-air captioning, doing it earlier and better than our competitors here. So, I would hope that we could do the same online," News Director Stacey Woelfel said.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted a mandate in January to require captioning in online content. The new rules will apply to TV stations, cable systems, broadcast and cable networks and virtually every other professional video program producer who is now, or will be in the future, making programming available online in January 1, 2014.