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A View from Henry Jenkins

Closed Captioning Dispute

In October, the Department of Education declared some 200 television programs “inappropriate” for captioning for the deaf. Critics argue that the programs were rejected on moral rather than educational grounds. According to Kelby Brick, director of the National Association for…

  • February 17, 2004

In October, the Department of Education declared some 200 television programs “inappropriate” for captioning for the deaf. Critics argue that the programs were rejected on moral rather than educational grounds. According to Kelby Brick, director of the National Association for the Deaf’s law and advocacy center. “Basically, the department wants to limit captioning to puritan shows. The department wants to ensure that deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals are not exposed to any non-puritan programming. Never mind that the rest of the country is allowed to be exposed.”There also seems to be a narrowing of the definition of what counts as educational to include only news and documentary programs – not dramas or comedies or cultural programs. Here’s a complete list of the programs impacted by this decision.

The National Association for the Deaf is taking a strong stand against this decision, calling it censorship. Nancy J. Bloch, NAD Executive Director, said: “This secretive process amounts to censorship, which runs counter to the principles of the First Amendment freedom of speech. This action also segregates over 28 million deaf and hard of hearing individuals from access to the same shows as everyone else in America.”

NAD President Andrew J. Lange adds: “Without captioning, millions of deaf and hard of hearing parents, such as myself, are unable to preview shows for appropriate content for their children, to watch television programming with their families, or to engage in dialogue with their children in response to televised programs. Education does not stop at the schoolhouse door. My duties and responsibilities as a parent to pass on our family values to my children have been undermined by a few government officials.”

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