Captioning in Public Places
Deaf and hard of hearing customers often encounter difficulties when asking an establishment to activate the captions for a TV in a public place. Closed captioning makes TV programming accessible to Minnesotans who are deaf and hard of hearing.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title III, restaurants and other businesses are required to turn on the captioning upon request. Many businesses, however, are not aware of this requirement.
Employees are often unaware of how to turn captions on as well. To find captions, try searching for the button with two C's on your remote or go to menu or settings.
This especially creates challenges when a large-scale emergency situation arises and emergency information is being broadcast over all public televisions. When the captioning is deactivated, many people are cut off from this vital information source.
Who this impacts
- People who are deaf, deafblind, or hard of hearing
- People who are learning English as a second language
- Children who are learning how to read
- Anyone who is in a noisy environment where it is hard to hear
- Anyone who is in an environment where the sound must be turned off
In 2015, MNCDHH started a campaign asking local businesses to pledge to keep their captions activated on their TVs at all times. The Hearing Loss Association of America - Twin Cities chapter, Minnesota Hands & Voices, and the Minnesota Association of Deaf Citizens partnered with us. We also adopted a hashtag, #captionMNnow
Businesses who take this pledge are added to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Friendly Businesses list. Businesses can still pledge to turn on their captions! Sign the pledge (PDF)
Pro tip for business owners: did you know that closed captioning has changed? Federal Communications Commission (FCC) quality standards prohibit captions from blocking other important visual content on the screen. Televised live sporting events, for example, often display the closed captioning at the top of the screen and no longer block the scores.
Who was involved
- Minnesota Commission of the Deaf, DeafBlind & Hard of Hearing
- Hearing Loss Association of America - Twin Cities chapter
- Minnesota Hands & Voices
- Minnesota Association of Deaf Citizens
- The wonderful businesses who make the pledge to keep their captions turned on.
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Friendly Businesses list
Sign the pledge (PDF)
The Business Case for Turning On Captions (PDF)
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Title III
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Captioning Quality Standards