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Captioned television for all?
The modern medium of mass communication, television, has been in commercial uses for entertainment, advertisements, announcements, education, information, and emergency broadcasts. It may affect the safety of life or i property. The greatest advantage of having a teleVISION set is that it is a visual replacement of radio. However, as for emergency broadcast, the TV has not yet replaced the radio as it often broadcasts an announcement with little or no visuals. Television presently is meaningful only to approximately 90% of its American viewers. The minority, the American hearing impaired viewers, are denied their right to the invaluable education, social, and cultural benefits from the television because of their impaired hearing. Also, they are unable to receive emergency broadcasts. For instance, an earthquake occurred in southern California in February, 1971. All the television sets in the disaster areas were blacked out for a few minutes and when the sets were on again, an announcer calmly warned the residents below the leaky Van Norman dam to evacuate. In this area there lived many hearing impaired victims who were unable to receive such an oral message. Their neighbors, friends, and the police helped them to evacuate. This incident prompted thousands of letters nationwide to stations requesting special services such as captioning or interpreting the news and emergency broadcasts for the hearing impaired viewers. About eight weeks before the earthquake occurred, the Federal Communications Commission had urged all licensees to caption the news and emergency broadcasts.