Saturday, January 23, 2010

An oversight

I'm watching CSI in HD. I may never leave the house again.

We bought an HD TV and got a digital box a week ago, and it's been quite the learning curve. Going from 60 channels to (potentially) nearly 2000, figuring out what channels we have and where they are, figuring out the mysterious combination of things that must be set in order to actually get the signal from the box to talk to the tv, figuring out how to turn the closed captioning on...

And about the closed captioning... one of the first things we discovered was that the captioning (which we turned on through the TV settings) worked on the analog channels, but none of the HD channels - none of them - had CC. This afternoon Husband did some research and we discovered that incredibly, for a variety of technical reasons that I don't understand at all, when they developed HD television, they - if I have this right - didn't include the capacity to read the normally-broadcast closed-captions. That means that, depending on your digital box and your TV model, you have to jump through a bunch of hoops and figure out where the Sekrit Setting is to turn on CC for your HD channels through the digital box.

Fortunately, Husband was able to figure this out for our system, and tonight I finally have CC on our HD channels. (And it works for the analog channels too - fortunately.)

It's mind-boggling to me that 20 years after the FCC mandated closed-captioning on televisions over 13", manufacturers and developers are still "forgetting" to include easy access to CC as technology advances. In fact, it's frustrating to me constantly how often people with disabilities - of any kind - are overlooked in the development of new technology. (Almost 100% of video posted on the internet, for example, is without captioning, although YouTube and many other video players have the capacity to show it if it's included.)

It's just frustrating to be an afterthought. Always. Never mind how sorry I feel for the thousands of deaf and hard-of-hearing people who spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on HD systems and can't figure out the mystery and resign themselves to watching the gorgeous pictures without information input.

Was I ranting? I'm sorry. I'm watching CSI in HD. I may never leave the house again.

ronnie

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10 Comments:

Blogger Dave said...

I'm right there with you, Ronnie. What angers me the most is that I can watch the Daily Show on basic cable and get captions, but if I buy the Daily Show from iTunes, it won't have captions, even though the show has obviously been captioned once, so it seems like they are deliberately removing them.

Even worse are streaming video from Apple, Amazon, Netflix, et al. Not a single one of those has captions. It just makes me want to scream.

Anyway, enjoy your HD CSI.

10:19 PM  
Blogger Kay Dennison said...

How awful!!!! Then again, not surprising. I think the bottom line is there is little or no consideration for the handicapped of any kind. CSI? I like NCIS better! Mark Harmon can call me.

10:31 PM  
Blogger Sherwood Harrington said...

Good on husband for figuring it out! Us husbands need as much validation as we can get in order to be worth keeping around, believe me.

I routinely have cc's turned on for any video clips I show in classes, whether or not anyone watching is hearing-impaired, because such a large fraction of my classes are students to whom English is a new language. Being able to see the words as they are spoken is a big help to some (many, I hope) of that set, so I have developed a pre-disposition to be very, very irritated at any medium that futzes up cc's.

CSI... what? Are you a purist who follows only the Las Vegas version, or can you tolerate David Caruso's scenery-chewing in CSI:Miami (but what WONDERFUL scenery to chew!) and Gary Sinise's deadpan in CSI:NY?

Diane agrees with Kay, by the way, concerning NCIS and its lead guy.

1:12 AM  
Blogger Xtreme English said...

sherwood has hit the nail on the head when he says many people for whom english is a second language LOVE CC. this was how my friends from brazil learned to speak english so well. the malapropisms CC was famous for were particularly instructive to them!

my family, who got in on the early days of CC, universally HATED it when the CC was on. whoever was in charge of captioning not only shortened long remarks, they made sure no naughty words ever were captioned, so "hell" became "heck," "bitch" became "broad," to name a couple examples. the result was mind-boggling--what the ears heard was constantly challenged by what the eyes read. i think it's better now, and in any case, that's not a problem for people who can't hear the dialogue at all.

and yes, it's wonderful when someone in the household can FIX this stuff. husband is to be congratulated for staying up to date. usually the job now falls on the 12 year olds.

1:44 AM  
Blogger Nostalgic for the Pleistocene said...

The fact that the access requirements are considered fulfilled by that complicated method that Husband managed to figure out, is just wrong.

But CSI in high def... now, i dunno! Compelling as the shows are, they're often too gross for me, even in low def!

1:12 PM  
Blogger Brent McKee said...

I used to find CC very useful with some shows where the background sounds or music overwhelmed the actual dialog that i was supposed to be listening to. ER used to be bad for that. It's quite hard to get CC with my HD box because it's controlled through the box not the TV.

I love CSI and CSI:NY - CSI:Miami not so much. I second (third, whatever) what people say about trying NCIS though. Mark Harmon has that rugged older guy thing going and there's an amazing chemistry with that cast. Maybe that's why the show has gone from "who watches that" to one of the top series on network TV. Plus, on rare occasions Harmon and Pauly Perrette (who plays the quirky forensic scientist Abby) actually sign.

By the way, Mark Harmon starred in a series called Reasonable Doubts in the 1980s with Marlee Matlin.

5:31 PM  
Blogger ronnie said...

Excellent comments all!

I do watch NCIS, and enjoy it. I watch both CSI (Las Vegas) and CSI: New York (I admit I'm a sucker for Gary Sinese) but watching David Caruso whipping his sunglasses off for an hour generally leaves me cold.

I've also started watching "Criminal Minds", which I find pretty good... although I sometimes choose not to watch depending on what type of crime they're investigating.

Sherwood, your choice of CC to aid students whose first language isn't English is dead-on. Even before I went deaf, CC was an invaluable tool for me in my continuing efforts to improve my French. Not including it in this day and age is just... inexcusable, really, given how cheaply it can be added in most circumstances.

ronnie

8:17 PM  
Blogger Sherwood Harrington said...

Oooh... Criminal Minds. I have grown to love that show, especially Thomas Gibson's and Matthew Gray Gubler's performances, and I really like the music choices -- I've found several pieces that are great for planetarium use from the show. But you're right, ronnie, there are some episodes that are just too disturbing in one way or another.

As for Caruso and his sunglasses -- Jim Carrey did a spot-on sendup on Letterman a couple of years ago. That minute and a half clip is part of the reason why I'll still watch an episode of CSI:Miami once in a while -- just to picture Carrey and the sunglasses at the appropriate times.

1:43 AM  
Anonymous Sister said...

I remeber when I was visiting, you telling me how irritating it was that the CC would post something like "Music" rather than "Creepy Music" or "Happy Music". I think people need to really stop and think about these things. I noticed a little while ago that a lot of Discovery shows have no CC, and that really angers me, especially when you consider that Discovery is about nature and technology....and they can't be bothered including CC in some of their shows?

As for the HD TV, I have no interest in getting it. A friend once said to me, "But you don't understand! It's wonderful! You see everything! Even zits on people's heads, for instance!" My reply: "So you paid an obscene amount of money to see zits? I'd rather pay money NOT to see zits." LOL But I'll bet it's wonderful for nature shows.

11:04 AM  
Blogger ronnie said...

Thanks for checking in, Sis!

Part of the mystery is: Does this Discovery Channel program not have cc? Or does it have cc that I have to figure out how to access?

Very frustrating indeeed!

9:11 PM  

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