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Technology to Help Hearing

Captions are the written text of the spoken word. There are several situations where captioning is used.

TV: Most TV programs and commercials have closed captioning which means written words of the text are displayed on the TV screen. The captions are accessed either directly by the TV’s remote or going into the menu and finding the caption options. The Television Decoder Circuitry Act of 1990 mandates that since July 1993, all televisions manufactured for sale in the U.S. must contain a built-in caption decoder if the picture tube is 13" or larger. Closed captions on television programs most often have a black background and white text, although different combinations are possible.

Movies: Movies on DVD are captioned as TV shows are. Captions are turned on by turning on the captioning through the menu.

Movie theater captioning: some movie theaters offer open-captioned movies (where the word appears on the screen for everyone to see) or offer closed captioning through devices the customer must ask for. To see where captioned movies are playing in your area, go to

Live theater captioning: some theaters offer captioned performances of live shows.

Captioned telephones show written captions of everything the caller says. The written text appears in a built-in display screen.

CART - Communication Access Real-Time Translation: the verbatim, near instantaneous conversion of spoken language into text. A stenotype machine, notebook computer and real-time software is used to produce the text. The text is usually displayed either on a screen by a projector connected to the notebook computer, or on a notebook computer or computer monitor.

CART is usually used by people with hearing loss who use spoken language as a primary mode of communication. However, some culturally Deaf people (whose primary mode of communication is a sign language) use CART in situations such as graduate-level anatomy classes, as it may be easier to read all of the specific terminology rather than have signs improvised on the spot, or use finger spelling.

For more on captioning laws, requirements, and policy in various environments, go to the Captioning and CART page under the Advocacy section.