January 18, 2017 By Ryan Hawthorne

Live Event Captioning

The conversation surrounding closed captions has traditionally focused on the television set and, more recently, even around Internet based video services. What is often overlooked, though, is the great need for accessibility at live entertainment events.​

A great example of the importance of closed captions is evident in the athletic stadium experience. In addition to the excitement generated by a big game or event, there are typically many media elements added to enhance the overall experience. Whether it is musical performances, creative videos, highlight replays, or general public address announcements, stadium and arena officials work hard to make events more enjoyable for everyone in attendance.

Just as it is important to provide equal access to media that is available via television or the Internet, it is just as important for media to be accessible to everyone in attendance at a game or similar live event.

Fortunately, there is a growing trend in which stadiums have started to include live captions on the video screens of their scoreboards. Over the past few years, there have been several lawsuits against professional sports teams and public universities due to a lack of accessibility at live events for people that are hard-of-hearing. Under the framework of the Americans with Disabilities Act, many lawsuits were upheld and several stadiums are now required to provide captions on their scoreboards or JumboTrons.

Looking beyond legal battles and the actions that athletics teams and universities have been legally required to do, there is a very positive side aspect of the growing trend of live stadium captions. Many stadiums and arenas now voluntarily provide captions for music and other elements that are played over the public address system. While some organizations may simply be focusing on avoiding legal trouble, many stadiums are not legally required to provide captions at this time, which means they are providing captions for the primary purpose of access rather than out of obligation.

One can only hope that more and more stadiums and similar venues continue to provide captions not just as a result of a lawsuit, but for the sake of providing equal access to everyone in attendance.

As closed captions become more readily available beyond just the television set, what are some areas that you think could use improvement for greater access?

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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