October 08, 2015 By Ryan Hawthorne

Fishers of Men: The Importance of Quality Closed Captioning in Ministry Broadcasts

A pure gold brick wrapped in an ugly package.

If you’re a ministry organization, and you’re settling for poor quality closed captioning, that’s exactly what you’re offering to deaf and hard of hearing parishioners.

If your church airs sermons and events on broadcast television, you already know that closed captioning is legally required. If you’re re-airing those TV programs on the Internet, captioning is also a must-have.

Closed captioning was Congressionally mandated as a way to make video programming accessible to all Americans. Estimates vary, but at any given time the population of deaf or hearing impaired tops 40 million in the United States. Without closed captioning, this is a huge audience that may be missing the message of your organization.

Over the years, churches have embraced the far-reaching effects of the television broadcast, along with closed captioning, both as a legal requirement and as a way to reach more potential converts.

These broadcasts guide the spiritual life of millions of Americans. Clearly ministries don’t want to exclude a particular population from their message. However, if your religious organization is neglecting the quality of closed captions, your deaf and hard of hearing audience may be struggling to understand your message – or missing it entirely.

Broadcast ministry programs are often geared for the shut in; many times this includes an elderly or sick population of worshipers unable to attend services. The hard of hearing have a difficult time understanding the context of a broadcast when the closed captions are misspelled or out of context.

The National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) has reported that competition from captioning companies in the marketplace has forced prices down – and quality had declined precipitously as a result. They call these issues “pervasive.”

Although the FCC has clarified captioning requirements to include an emphasis on quality, many organizations still simply select the cheapest route when choosing a vendor to provide closed captioning for their broadcasts.

We’ve all had experiences that illustrate negative life lessons around “I got exactly what I paid for.” The cheapest, in almost all instances, isn’t the best quality.


If your ministry is selecting a closed captioning vendor solely on price, it’s likely that your message is being diluted and possibly misunderstood by the very audience you’re trying to influence.

Casting the net far and wide is exactly the “fishers of men” concept found in biblical texts. But if your ministry is endorsing poor quality closed captioning there are huge holes in your net. Taking a more deliberate approach toward captioning quality control will mend that net and ensure your ministry’s reach is both far and wide.

Ryan Hawthorne

Ryan is the Operations Manager and the reason we can brag about the quality of our captions. He isn’t shy of high standards or quick turnarounds. He makes sure your project looks perfect every step of the way. When Ryan isn’t captioning, he’s spending time with his family as a new father.

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