When you watch television with captions, do you have the sound on or off?
I’ve always seen subtitles as an aid to lipreading and lipreading as an aid to working out what I’m hearing and for that reason, I have both sound and captions on whilst watching television.
However, when I visited a friend who also has severe hearing loss, I noticed she opts for the captions only. I asked her why this was and she explained that because of her Meniere’s, audio from the television sounded distorted and made it impossible for her to watch.
This ‘no sound’ on the television made for an interesting experience whilst my husband and I were staying with her. We were watching Dragon’s Den (a show for budding entrepreneurs seeking financial backing from investors) with the sound off and the captions on and he was checking messages on his phone. My friend and I laughed at something that was said on the show, but because he wasn’t looking at the screen, following the captioning, he’d missed what it was that had made us laugh.
It made me think of all the times I’d missed what people were laughing at because I’d not heard what was said and how this was the first time I’d noticed a situation where a hearing person was the one missing out because they’d not ‘read’ what was said.
When you have hearing, listening is such a passive activity, isn’t it? Most people can check their phone messages and follow dialogue on a television programme simultaneously. It’s only when you have difficulty hearing that listening becomes a more ‘active’ activity: something you are consciously trying to do.
So, I’m interested to know — do you use captions as an aid to following speech or do you use it to replace the spoken word altogether?