As he recently dug into an unfamiliar drama, California native Adan Franco relied on the closed captioning at the bottom of his TV screen to help make sense of the characters and their foreign argot.

The show was “The Sopranos.”

“I had to pay close attention and internalize all this fast-paced information, especially in the first episodes,” so the transcription was critical, says the 24-year-old musician.

It isn’t just New Jersey accents and mob lingo that benefit from translation. Mr. Franco says he almost always keeps captioning turned on, no matter what’s playing. “It’s just my preferred way of watching things,” he says.

Subtitles have always been required reading for people watching foreign-language films. And for deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences, captioning is vital to any screen experience involving sound.

Because the primary purpose of closed captioning is accessibility—as required by federal law since the 1990s—it also includes sonic elements other than dialogue, such as song lyrics and sound descriptions like [ominous rustling] or [soothing music]. Subtitles are translations of dialogue into a different language.

In the sci-fi series ‘The Expanse,’ captions spell out the patois of people known as Belters.


Some of the people most committed to captioning don’t need it at all. They are viewers who hear just fine but prefer to read along with everything they watch, including TV shows and movies in their own language, as a hack to better understand what is happening on screen.

It is a subculture of sub-text that veterans of the captioning industry say is growing. Driving the habit: the multitasking ways of younger viewers, and the broader influence of phones and other personal screens that overflow with captioned imagery, from internet memes to video clips that spread on social media.

“It’s a generational change,” says Larry Goldberg, who helped write federal legislation mandating closed-captioning in digital media and is the current head of accessibility at Verizon Media. Most producers and distributors no longer have to be prodded to include captioning, largely because of demand from viewers for whom it is entirely optional, he says. “It’s gone mainstream, and when I started in this business, I would never have imagined this,” he says.

Emily Boudrot, a student at Ball State University in Indiana, got into the caption habit in high school because it was frustrating to rewind when she missed things. Her mother hates it when she turns on the captions at home, but she has converted others to the written word. “Most of my friends use them,” she says. “And if they didn’t before, they do now after spending time with me.”

Actors who mumble, whisper or talk over each other? Programs with wildly fluctuating sound levels? Knotty dialect from the old-time British gangsters of “Peaky Blinders”? The lyrics to a song underscoring a dramatic scene? Captioning helps you capture it all, adherents say.

Some English speakers need help with the knotty dialect from the old-time British gangsters of ‘Peaky Blinders.’


Off-screen, captions preserve domestic tranquility when dealing with a sleeping or noisy family member nearby. And they help viewers pick up on crucial dialogue even while chowing down on crunchy snacks.

“I felt like the captions and the audio were competing, and my brain didn’t know which one to follow,” she says.

Three years later, the romance is over, but Ms. Peters is committed to captioning. It not only helps her make out the accents of denizens of an asteroid belt in “The Expanse” (which she also stuck with), the university lecturer and sci-fi filmmaker says it brings out the nuances in her viewing across the board. “It’s just a part of watching scripted entertainment,” says Ms. Peters, who has been known to enable captioning on the TV sets of family members she visits.

Some jokes in “Frasier” just seem funnier, some “Star Trek” lines more relevant, when reinforced in writing on screen, says Hannah Broder of Baltimore. She was introduced to closed captions in college through a friend who was hard of hearing. Now, “it just helps me take in everything I watch, even if it’s an episode of ‘The Office’ or ‘Parks and Recreation,’ ” says the 22-year-old social-media manager.

out of context the office@officecontexts

View image on Twitter
9,151 people are talking about this

For many viewers who grew up watching subtitled Japanese anime series and scanning captioned clips on devices with the sound off, reading something on Netflix comes naturally.

“You’re watching a show but also doing two other things at the same time,” says Steve Howze, a 33-year-old sketch-comedy writer living in New York. He counts himself as a captions-on guy—except with comedies, he says, because the text often outpaces and spoils the punch lines.

More people are viewing TV and movies through the lens of social media, where screenshots and GIFs superimposed with text are ubiquitous. “When I watch things with the captions, I can just take a picture of the screen and have an instant meme,” says Nick Gilyard Spence.

Dominic Spence, left, and Nick Gilyard Spence bonded years ago over captioning.


For the 28-year-old Miami publicist, text on a TV screen also announced true love. Mr. Spence and a former high-school acquaintance discovered they both loved watching the 2000s sitcom “Girlfriends”—and with captioning turned on. “I thought, ‘We are soul mates,’ but I didn’t say that out loud because it was only our second date.”

Since then, the couple has used captioning to process the dense soliloquies of “Scandal,” the murmured remarks in “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” and the chaotic exchanges in the 2011 movie “Contagion.” They even incorporated the technology into their 2017 wedding ceremony. “I vow to love you without ceasing,” Nick said to his now-husband Dominic Spence, “and turn on the closed captions when we watch our favorite movies.”

Write to John Jurgensen at

Saturday, March 7, 2019, 7:30 pm

Regent Theatre, 7 Medford Street, Arlington, MA

Assisted Hearing Devices provided on-site…

Paid admission includes Accessible Seating at the 1-hour performance, attendance at the planned Open-Forum Question & Answer session with the Cast along with Meet & Greet and Book Signing opportunities.

– A.S.L. and C.A.R.T. provided –

ALL SEATS: $25.00



No Limits, a nationwide nonprofit organization with over 23 years of having empowered deaf children and families to dream big for their futures, presents Silent NO MORE on one night only at Arlington’s Showplace of Entertainment.

Directed by Dr. Michelle Christie (No Limits Founder and Executive Director,) this original live theatrical performance is an intimate storytelling event comprised of witty, inspiring and raw stories of growing up with hearing loss. It highlights both the struggles and the success of living in the modern world with hearing loss. The cast of Silent NO MORE features five-time American Comedy Award nominee Kathy Buckley, known for the award winning PBS special No Labels, No Limits. Acclaimed author Rebecca Alexander (Not Fade Away), and David HawkinsJohn AutryHenry GreenfieldJohnny Palmer and Michelle Tang.

All tickets bought are for GENERAL ADMISSION seating.

Doors Will Open for Seating at… 6:45PM
This event will begin promptly at… 7:30PM

If you need reasonable accommodations, such as wheelchair accessible seating….
…please call our Box Office: 781.646.4849
Wheelchair Accessible seating is also Available Online

Topic: Uh Oh, I Think I Need a New Hearing Aid
Speaker:  Beth Wilson
Franklin Senior Center – February 12th, 1:00 – 2:00 pm


Beth Wilson recently completed a transition to a new hearing aid and tried to capture all the steps and decisions she went through along the way.  She will describe a generic process of exploring hearing aid technology as a potential means to address hearing loss.  She will then map her own steps to identify available hearing aid options to address her new communication scenarios.  People who are new to hearing aids and people who have worn hearing aids for years will find useful information in this presentation.

About the Speaker: Dr. Beth Wilson was born with a hearing loss and is a member of the local Hearing Loss Association of America Central Massachusetts chapter.  Beth has a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering with research in speech processing, so she actually understands how things work!  She has had much experience in explaining her own hearing loss in a way that makes everyone comfortable (and a bit entertained).



Franklin Senior Center, 10 Daniel McCahill Street, Franklin, MA

(508) 520-4945

Posted by: hlacentralma | January 11, 2020

Save the Dates! HLA Central MA Chapter Gatherings for 2020

Please save the following dates for our upcoming meetings:

Saturday March 21, 2020 – 2:00 – 4:00 pm
Topic: Beyond My Hearing Aid or Cochlear Implant

Speaker: Informal Rap Session with Participants

This “meeting” will be an informal rap session where we can learn from each other.  We had a session last year called “Living With Hearing Loss” that provided an excellent exchange of ideas.  This year we will focus on “Beyond the Hearing Aid/CI.”  For those of us who use hearing aids and/or cochlear implants, we find ourselves in situations where that technology is just not enough.  Some people use technology (assistive devices, smart phone apps), clever non-technical strategies, and other techniques to supplement the hearing aid and/or CI.  We participate in a range of activities and events outside the chapter meeting.  This is an opportunity to share things that work and learn new tricks..

Saturday, May 2, 2020 – 2:00 – 4:00 pm.

Topic: Introduction to Cochlear Implants

Speaker: Caitlin Agreda, Au.D., CCC-A Audiologist UMass Memorial Medical Center

Topic: How to Choose a Cochlear Implant Vendor

Speaker: Ellen Perkins and Barbara Johnson

This program is designed for people who are curious about cochlear implants as a potential solution or just interested in learning what they are about.  Caitlin will present an introduction to cochlear implants focusing on what a cochlear implant is, how it works, and what the process is. Ellen and Barbara will then reprise their popular presentation on how to navigate the vendor promotional fluff and understand the offerings of the 3 cochlear implant manufacturers.

Saturday, September 12th from 2:00 – 4:00 pm.

.Topic: Convention Recap and Update on National Efforts

Speakers: Beth Wilson and Margaret Myatt

Beth and Margaret will be attending the HLAA convention and will provide highlights from the workshops and exhibit hall.  They expect to be able to report the latest news on Over the Counter (OTC) hearing aids, Medicare coverage for hearing aids, rules and regulations related to captioning, and other national policy activity to benefit all of us with hearing loss.

Saturday, November 7th
from 2:00 – 4:00 pm
Topic: Are You Listening?

Speaker: Darleen Wilson

On Nov. 7th, the guest speaker will be Ms. Darleen Wilson.  Ms. Wilson is a life-long musician and is actively dealing with the consequences of her own moderate-severe hearing loss. Convinced that there are better solutions for hearing technologies, Wilson undertook a Masters in Human Factors to expand her perspective on product design. She focuses her work on improving hearing products and services.  Wilson serves on the Audiology Leadership Advisory Council for Mass. Eye and Ear (a teaching hospital for Harvard Medical School).


All meetings will be held at the Northborough Library. There will be CART (computer aided real time captioning).
Stay tuned for more details as we  are in the process of contacting/confirming speakers for topics related to Cochlear Implant and Hearing Aid Technology, and Coping with Hearing Loss.
If you have any suggestions for topics and speakers, please let us know.
We are looking forward to seeing all of you!
HLAA Central MA’s steering Committee
Beth Wilson
Margaret Myatt
Gina Constantino
Gloria and Stan Radler
Tina Thompson
Posted by: hlacentralma | January 8, 2020

Advacation: Cruise edition – requesting real-time captioning

This is a wonderful reference to use before you book a cruise. Which cruise companies provide what hearing assistive technologies.

See Hear Communication Matters


carnival-sensation-2 Photo cred:

In the dead heat of summer, my friend casually mentioned on a fb chat that she and her family were going to be celebrating New Year’s Eve on a cruise ship.  I was intrigued and then elated when I saw the “…” (indicating active typing) on our chat followed by “The invitation is there if y’all can go.”   A quick check with hubby and we (somewhat impulsively) decided that we would join them!

I hadn’t been on a cruise since I was 16 and my family had never gone so this would be an entirely new experience for us.  On the other hand, my friend, Lisa, had been on several cruises with different members of her family and was well-versed on the ins and outs of cruise life.  Lisa and I are both late-deafened – I am ASL-fluent and she knows a handful of signs.  We are…

View original post 1,514 more words

Our SPRING ASL CLASS REGISTRATION DEADLINE is now FEBRUARY 10th. Classes start February 18th.

For those who have thought about taking sign language classes. This is being offered by the Center for Working and Living in Worcester. This agency supports HLAA Central MA  as they advertised our group in their newsletter.

Ten week classes beginning in February.  Tuition is only $200 – that only $20 per class!!

Below are links to the promotional flyer and  sign up sheet.

      Please send your completed registration form to: Joan Philip.  Checks or money orders must be payable to: CLW.

      Any questions, please contact:

                Joan Philip,,       508-762-1165

Click here for sign-up sheet 

Spring ASL Class signup deadline is February 10th!

Kim White, Staff Interpreter, Center for Living & Working, Inc.

484 Main Street, Suite 345, Worcester, MA 01608

Phone:       508-755-1042

Fax:              508-797-4015

VP:               508-283-1036

TTY:              508-755-1003

Public VP:  508-762-1164

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »


%d bloggers like this: