Our Goal #CatchTheCaption

As a small group of students from Chatham University, we have found it important to address the issue of incorrect subtitles on online streaming platforms, which include but are not limited to Netflix and YouTube. Incorrect subtitles are a major issue, especially when talking about the deaf and hard at hearing communities. When subtitles and captions do not portray what the actors are actually saying, people who are deaf and hard at hearing do not get the same viewing experience as those who are able to hear.

To combat this major issue, we created an educational blog, which highlights the importance of catching captions when they are wrong, as well as showing YouTubers how they can edit their own captions to give everyone a fair viewing experience.


15 Best Websites to Download Movie Subtitles

  1. YIFY Subtitles
    • Features some of the most liked movies, latest movies, recently added movies, and popular movies on different sections. Able to select movies according to language and genre.
  2. Subscene
    • You have the option to edit the subtitle filter on the page. Movies, TV series, and music videos are all available.
  3. Movie Subtitles
    • The subtitles can be found in multiple languages and categorically arranges most downloaded subtitles, latest subtitles, and top movies.
  4. Open Subtitles
    • Has almost 4,700,000 subtitles available for download. Has a subtitles player embedded on the website.
  5. TV Subs
    • Can download as well as upload subtitles. The option to select languages is available.

Check out the other 10 best websites on Filmora here –filmora.wondershare.com/video-ed…

Skype Launches Real-Time Captions and Subtitles

This year, Microsoft announced that their famous video-chat service, Skype, will now have real-time captions and subtitles. Launched on the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities, this new update will allow people with a hearing impairment to read the words as they are being spoken.

To activate this feature, you must go into settings, select the more button and choose “turn subtitles on”. It can also be set as the default setting. The subtitles will auto scroll in the chat, but Skype is working to further improve this already wonderful feature.

This new feature is part of Microsoft’s new inclusivity campaign. They will also be launching translating options for more than twenty languages. Microsoft’s PowerPoint will also be equipped with the automatic subtitles.

Blog-last-pic-subtitles.png[Photograph]. (2018, December 3).

It All Started From A Fake Interpreter…

In 2014, the world was shaken by the death of world leader, Nelson Mandela. The memorial in his honor was a homage to his great achievements and passions.

During the televised speeches, there was a designated sign language interpreter who was supposed to inform the audience of what was being said. The sign language interpreter, Thamsanqa Jantjie, proceeded to incorrectly use the signals associated with American and South African Sign Language. He goes on to completely make up gestures throughout leaders like Barack Obama, speeches. Many members of the deaf community were outraged by this interaction. The qualifications of the man were called into question. This event became a symbol for the lack of awareness and recognition for deaf communities. How could this happen at a memorial service for a world leader? It made people realize that changes had to be made to ensure the betterment and education of all people, specifically deaf.

The South African Government released a statement that says,  “Government is looking into this matter but has not been able to conclude this inquiry due to the demanding schedule of organizing events related to the State Funeral,” the statement read. The government will report publicly on any information it may establish but wishes to assure South Africans that we are clear in defending the rights and dignity of people with disabilities.” Other governments tried to address the issue as simply an internal conflict for South Africa to deal with.

The bigger question is how did this happen? An international incident like such should suggest change needs to be made.


Popular late night show host, Jimmy Kimmel, decided to have a real sign language interpreter tries to translate what was being presented by Jantjie. The following video is provided below.

Kimmel’s skit was directed and filmed from a comedic point; however, it still draws awareness to the issue at hand. Most people watching the Mandela memorial didn’t even realize something was wrong. Sign language, especially in America, isn’t integrated into many aspects of our lives.

It poses certain questions such as: why is sign language not a required language, why are there not available video screens projecting sign languages in most public areas, how does one initiate sign language education if it isn’t being used often enough, etc.

The lack of normalcy associated with deaf culture, specifically sign language, makes one focus on the societal norms that dictate it to be “not normal.”

One day, I hope to see a society that has integrated deaf culture and others alike so that it isn’t seen as just another variation of different.



Support Deaf Film and Theater Companies

ASL Films 

“ASL Films is an independent, deaf owned and operated production company for all feature film media. Founded in 2005 by partners Mark Wood and Mindy Moore, ASL Films is committed to creating sophisticated entertainment with an appeal that both inspires and rewards sponsors and audiences alike. At its inception the company made its first mark producing a feature length film, Forget Me Not which was a huge success that earned many raves and encores from all over the country.”

Rustic Lantern Films 

“Fueled by their belief in its staff members, fervor to increase awareness about deaf and hard of hearing’s communication access needs, and a hunger to make an independent film, Deaf Empowerment Awareness Foundation, Inc. (DEAF, Inc.) is proud to announce the creation of a new division called Rustic Lantern Films. DEAF Inc. recognizes the unique talents of its media team and encourages them to expand their potential and assist in furthering DEAF Inc.’s mission.”

Deaf Professional Artists Network (D-PAN)

“D-PAN: Deaf Professional Arts Network exists to support, encourage and develop professional and educational opportunities for talented individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing as well as hearing individuals who work with the community. We are equally committed to enhancing the visibility of that talent and establishing new audiences for exceptional artists who happen to be deaf or hard of hearing. Over the coming months, well be announcing new programs and initiatives designed to transform these concepts into exciting new realities—and in so doing, to serve a continually growing number of deaf and hard of hearing creative professionals.”

National Theatre of the Deaf  

“The National Theatre of the Deaf (NTD) has a history that is proud and groundbreaking. Touring the nation and the world for over 45 years, the acting company is comprised of deaf and hearing actors.  Each performance unfolds simultaneously in two languages; one for the eye, American Sign Language, and one for the ear, the Spoken Word.”

Deaf West Theatre 

“Founded in Los Angeles in 1991, Deaf West Theatre engages artists and audiences in unparalleled theater experiences inspired by Deaf culture and the expressive power of sign language.  Committed to innovation, collaboration, and training, Deaf West Theatre is the artistic bridge between the deaf and hearing worlds.”

Know of any others? Comment below and let us know!

Deaf Culture and Forced Assimilation

Deaf culture is too often erased by hearing people.

Hollywood, and the hearing world in general, too often forces deaf people and hard of hearing people to assimilate with hearing culture instead of creating accessible and inclusive spaces (Nović 2017). Twenty percent of people are deaf or hard of hearing, but actual representation continues to fall short (Callis 2014). When was the last time you saw a deaf character portrayed on screen? Was that character portrayed by a deaf actor? How was their deafness treated in the film?

One of the reasons that representation is often so abysmal, aside from the fact that deaf artists and activists are often ignored, is the fact that deaf people are not recognized as having their own culture (Nović 2017). Deaf culture varies from region to region and is rooted in its language, which is American Sign Language, or ASL, in the US and Canada outside of Quebec, where Langue des Signes Québécoise (LSQ) is used more often (Nović 2017). Spanish speaking communities in North America use Lengua de Señas Mexicana (LSM). Like spoken languages, sign languages develop over time within communities and include their own tones, mannerisms, and behaviors (Nović 2017).

Hearing people often willfully ignore deaf culture in order to force assimilation. Behaviors that are acceptable and normal in deaf cultures, such as bluntness, can be seen as unacceptable in hearing communities, and dismissed as rudeness rather than an cultural difference (Nović 2017). Misconceptions, such as the myth that learning ASL damages the ability to learn English, are perpetuated in order to force deaf children to learn to speak (Nović 2017). Even those who mean well, such as the hearing parent of a deaf child, can reinforce these misconceptions by failing to educate themselves on deaf culture. Ninety percent of children who are born deaf have hearing parents, who often seek out a ‘cure’ instead of teaching themselves and their child a sign language (Nović 2017).  A child often gets no choice as to whether or not they want their deafness ‘treated’ or if they want to be kept from experiencing deaf culture and meeting those who share the same lived experiences. Too often, hearing loss is treated as something that must be ‘cured’ without input from deaf individuals, which forces assimilation to hearing culture rather than creating accessibility, something that sign language interpreters and captions would do. Failure to treat deaf culture as what it is -its own equal culture rooted in its own language system- causes what little representation there is to be inaccurate.

As Sara Nović, deaf author and activist, says:

“To keep society’s definition of normalcy from becoming too narrow, the hearing mainstream must accept a cultural view of deafness, even when it is inconvenient. Because only when the hearing world respects deaf people as intellectual equals, when it parses out the difference between accessibility and forced assimilation — and yes, when it starts casting deaf actors in deaf roles — will Deaf culture be allowed to reach its full potential”

The little deaf representation that exists in Hollywood is more often inaccurate than not. Even though roles with deaf characters are rare, they are often given to hearing actors (Nović 2017). Children of a Lesser God was the first film with sound to feature a deaf lead actress, and there hasn’t been much representation since (Callis 2014). Deaf people create their own content and representation through companies such as ASL Films, Rustic Lantern Films, Deaf Professional Artists Network (D-PAN), the National Theater of the Deaf, and others (Callis 2014). These film and theater companies need widespread recognition and support in order to reach a larger audience. Art by deaf artists provides accurate representation, role models for young people, and more opportunities for artists to earn a living showcasing their talents.

As Linda Callis, sign language interpretor and activist says:

“Deaf kids need deaf role models, and hearing audiences are more than ready for complex deaf characters. Hollywood, and our society at large, need to stop reinforcing a tired status quo. Until we see a deaf Late Night host, or Oscar award-winning deaf director, or a proudly deaf U.S. president, we can not claim to live in a society of equal representation”

Equal and accurate representation is not a preference, it is an absolute must. Deaf people must have space to share their stories in Hollywood. The hearing world must educate themselves on deaf culture and begin to eliminate the discrimination and forced assimilation carried out by hearing culture.

Information retrieved from:

Nović, S (2017, October 20). The Hearing World Must Stop Forcing Deaf Culture To Assimilate.
          Retrieved from https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/hearing-world-must-stop-forcing-deaf-culture-assimilate-                        ncna812461

Callis, L. (2014, May 31). Deaf Culture in Hollywood. Retrieved from www.huffpost.com/entry/

Locked Out of Language

The article I focused on for this post is from OZY, an online news resource. It focuses on the lack of teaching sign language to those who are deaf or hard at hearing throughout the world. The one main issue that the article focuses on is the reliance on technology versus the visual language of sign language. One significant quote from the article is, “Only 2 percent of deaf children receive their education in sign language, according tot he global partnership for education.” This quote is important because it is a learning barrier for this children. This could really affect their intelligence levels as they get older if they aren’t taught in a way that they understand. There are other important data and statistics that the article had listen. One other quote that is very important is, “On average, deaf children with cochlear implants demonstrated lower receptive and expressive vocabulary knowledge than children with full hearing, according to a 2016 meta-analysis published in the Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education.” This is important because instead of relying on sign language these technological advances which still demonstrate lower knowledge for the children are being relied on. The article highlighted a huge percentage of Danish children to emphasis that instead of going the visual aid route they went the technology, easy, and not as effective route. “Ninety-eight percent of Danish children who are deaf receive cochlear implants (about 2 percent can’t receive them for medical reasons), and Denmark no longer offers sign language instruction to any children at all, Hauser says.” Overall the focus of this article is to highlight the importance of visual language over top of reliance of technology.


Since April 2014, streaming companies have been required to provide subtitles and closed captioning. Though this may seem great, this captioning is done automatically, without the carefulness of human touch.

The problem with automatic machine translation is that it does not have the capability of registering emotion like; sarcasm or a crowd cheering. It also does not have the ability to register foreign languages. Instead, automatic captions often say something like, “speaking in foreign language,” which doesn’t give everyone an equal viewing experience.

Image taken from https://www.reddit.com/r/mildlyinfuriating/comments/8p68l9/captions_that_dont_do_what_captions_are_supposed/

“It just types what it registers,” stated Atlantic writers Nam and Quartz. “Imagine watching classic baseball comedy Major League and only hearing the sound of one fan shouting from the stands. Or only hearing every other line of lightning-fast dialogue when watching reruns of the now-classic sitcom 30 Rock.”

One solution to this captioning issue is crowdsourcing, which allows for communities of fans to translate videos into multiple languages through platforms like Viki and Amara. Crowdsourcing gives captioning the necessary human touch that machine captioning lacks. It allows for true fans of a television show or movie to edit captions for other fans who can’t get the same experience through machine captioning.

Though captioning has come a long way, a little bit of elbow grease needs to be put into making captions accurate and equal for all viewers.


Do Everyone a Favor, Edit Your Captions

“YouTube auto-captions are often such poor quality that content is not accurately communicated to people who depend on captions such as people who are Deaf and hard of hearing,” stated ITSS from The University of Minnesota.

More often than not, streaming networks like, Netflix and YouTube use the automatic captioning tool for their videos and movies. Though they may think that they’re doing the video justice by providing captions, the subtitles at the bottom of the screen are so wrong that Deaf viewers might be better off without even watching.

By providing incorrect captions, Deaf and hard at hearing viewers are not able to have the same viewing experience as those who are able to watch the videos and movies without captioning. With this being said, it isn’t crazy to think that Netflix and YouTube would steer away from using the automatic captioning tool and instead manually enter the subtitles but alas, they haven’t.

Netflix is aware of the incorrect captioning and has had yet to solve the issue. YouTube, on the other hand, has added an option where YouTuber’s can manually edit the captions of their own videos, which is great but YouTuber’s either don’t know about this tool or are just too lazy to edit their captions themselves.

With this being said, do the Deaf and hard at hearing communities a favor by manually editing your own captions and subtitles.