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Captioning Access FAQ

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What is captioning?

It is a text display of spoken words and sound effects on a television or movie screen or in multimedia platforms (i.e., streaming Internet videos).

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What are the benefits of captioning?

Captioning affords deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals access to the spoken language and sound effects. It also aids individuals for whom English is a second language in developing proficiency in the English language. For individuals with learning disabilities, captioning may help increase their language and reading comprehension and improve their self-confidence.

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What is the difference between closed and open-captioning?

Closed-captions can be displayed only with the use of a closed-caption decoder. Decoders can be connected to a TV or built into TVs, 13" or larger, manufactured after July 1993. Open-captions, on the other hand, can be displayed without the closed-caption decoder. They are, in fact, "permanently part of the picture" and cannot be turned off.

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What is the difference between captioning and subtitling?

Captioning not only captures the spoken dialogue, but it also conveys various sound effects (i.e., infant crying, knocking on door, phone ringing, screaming, and the like) in a text format, whereas subtitling only captures the spoken conversation. However, due to the popularity of DVDs, there are "subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing" (SDH) that essentially function the same way as captioning does.

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How do I know if my videos are captioned?

Most commercial videos produced after 1984, most television programs broadcast today, and DVDs are closed-captioned. Often commercial videotapes and DVDs will either state on the packaging or box that they are closed-captioned or they will be stamped with one of the following icons:

Closed Captioned for the Hearing ImpairedClosed Captioned Symbol CC Symbol

If you bring in a video that you have recorded at home, be sure to consult the TV listings to see if the program you have recorded is identified with one of the closed-caption icons. Academic Technology can check your videos to see if they are captioned.

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Where can I reserve a closed-caption decoder?

If the television set in your classroom is manufactured before July 1993 or smaller than 13 inches, you can request that the media be sent via the campus television lines from the Academic Technology (AT) Center in the library. Please ask AT to use a closed-caption decoder for your media. They prefer at least one day's advance notice.

You can also request a separate TV cart with VCR/DVD player with a closed-caption decoder connected from Academic Technology to be delivered to your classroom.

If the television set in your classroom is manufactured after July 1993 and larger than 13 inches, you can utilize the internal closed-caption decoder. To turn it on, please use a remote control or the menu settings at the bottom of the TV set through the internal menu in your television; please set the captioning to "C1" to reveal the closed captions.

If you are showing DVDs with English subtitles or subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing (SDH) or any videos that are "open-captioned," you will not need a closed-caption decoder to display the subtitles. The decoder is only needed if the videos, DVDs, or any TV programs are "closed-captioned" and once activated, it helps reveal the captions that are hidden in the program.

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Which classrooms on campus already have a closed-caption decoder?

Please visit SFSU Closed Captioning Information for the most updated listing of classrooms with a closed-caption decoder available.

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