Close _CaptionTechnology has come far in the last 5 to 10 years. With Deaf individuals, groups and allies advocating for Equal Communication Access, Deaf, hard of hearing and late-deafened people are more able to access television programs, news, movies and entertainment like our hearing peers. But there is still one area that falls way behind the times: Online Internet  Video Captioning.

For example: YouTube videos have CC buttons which give the viewer the option to choose a language that will caption the video using automated voice recognition software. The powers that be think this satisfies their legal obligation to provide “access” for us folks who require captions. But have you ever watched the captions as they appear using electronic voice recognition software?  Oh…. my…. word! They are ridiculous!!

I went to this video embedded below and turned on the CC button to transcribe it in English. It’s a lovely, short, Ocean Guided Visual Meditation with Deepak Chopra from the website Wild Divine. The description of the video says, “Guided meditation is an integral part of my daily ritual, and sometimes it’s a nice way to relax. This ocean guided meditation with Deepak Chopra is about natural beauty and finding your own inner beauty through mindfulness, and further it is about taking that with you into the world everyday.”

It also includes a nice quote from Chopra:

Joy is a return to the deep harmony of body, mind, and spirit that was yours at birth and that can be yours again. That openness to love that capacity for wholeness, with the world around you is still within you.  -Deepak Chopra

So I had an idea what to expect. However, after I watched it, relaxation was the last thing I was feeling! The first few sentences using this automated voice recognition software these companies think does the trick, came out like this:

Close your eyes
take a few slow depressants.
Repeat influent hotels repressed

allow yourself to become more relaxed
more comfortable, more peaceful

I was not relaxed, not comfortable and far from peaceful. Heck! I was pissed! THESE CAPTIONS ARE NOT OK! This is what we Deaf folks have to endure. Internet companies think they are abiding by the laws and providing Equal Communication Access by using the cheapest form of translation, using automated voice recognition software. But this kind of captioning is far from Equal. This is NOT Access. This is deep confusion. This is wrong!

Take a look at the video below. Turn on the CC button and translate to English. See what I mean. (For those of you who cannot open or access the video, I have provided the translation from the video in text below.)

Close your eyes
and take a few slow depressents.
Repeat influent hotels repressed
allow yourself to become more relaxed
more comfortable, more peaceful
as you drift into a deep stated relaxation
tutor transported to appeal to food scene
natural environment
d_n_a_ school fragrant
with usual of sweet tropical shaw’s
disguised deep
with julia who had been doing tell
easily floating by
this firm dates units
comforting one night
the sounds of exotic bird song
and the rest of the soft breeze
through the trees
offers scooting
auditory packard
the churn his lunch
no extravagance in ontario
bash, abundant, extravagant
exotic centro
induced beautiful place
imagine yourself lying down a blanket
and the soft crusty man
feel the sens of connection
the sense of comfort
two hundred nature along
allowing the nutrients
or sensations or sights and smells
to keep the u_s_ himself deep conflict
you are returning creation
enjoyed this experience
of being increased in the church
by mother nature
this is where you came from
till you’re interested in fact disputes
in time
and carry your feelings of comforting
and relaxation wherever you call
they have a
brings a whole universe mature
and then you’re ready to open their eyes
dance of the screen to see holding
product the state of inability
back into your body


Comments welcome.

4 Responses to “Why Some Captions Are Not OK ~”

    Wow, that’s pretty bad captioning.

    I have an image in my mind of someone trying to meditate with these instructions. The tutor would probably be happy to be transported to appeal to food scene, since I assume that means going out to a restaurant (but not an extravagant restaurant — at least not in Ontario). But the soft crusty man would get squished.

    I hope this technology improves, but yeah, that’s really not OK.

    I have experienced the same frustration. I work as an interpreter in high school, and I am required to remind the teachers to turn on the CC for the student. Whenever we do on a YouTube video, it is so wrong it is distracting and becomes a joke for the whole class.

    I really enjoyed this article! YouTube video captioning should not even exist. To me, it’s sort of like false advertisement of services – which is illegal. In class (I am a college student), the professor was showing a youtube video. I shared with her that it was not captioned appropriately. I went to her office to try to demonstrate to her how horrible the captioning was. My professor was a wonderful person but, she couldn’t see what the problem was. I insisted that she turn the sound off, wait, and try to read it…. then, she was like “oh, my goodness, this is just awful!” It takes persistence and patience to educate others on this. Keep up the good work!

    I totally agree with Kelly that they should not even exist cos they are false advertising a service. So is illegal. So I don’t know how they get away with it.

    I don’t even bother turning them on, because they are s**t basically. Way off the mark they are. So if video does not have captions that work. I don’t bother watching. It is a joke. But not a joke for us that need them.

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