We've listed some popular questions concerning TV and provided corresponding answers to try and assist you.Why do the captions not always match the audio?
Which suppliers can I contact to organise captioning, audio description or transcription?
Media Access Australia does not provide these services, as we are an advocacy group not a supplier of captioning, AD or transcriptions. However, we have put together a current list of companies which can assist your organisation. Check out our list of caption, transcription and AD suppliers.
How do I get captions on my TV or device?
In order to access captions on your television you need either a digital TV, digital set-top box or an internet connected device for streaming services. Not all programs are captioned. You'll have to Google search content services to find out how much of their content is captioned.
What is teletext?
Teletext was an information system that was built into some analogue television sets and is now obsolete and unsupported.
Why do the captions not always match the audio?
There are a few reasons why the captions may not match the audio of a program. Firstly, prerecorded captions may be edited to a rate of 180 words per minute, which is considered to be an average reading speed for caption users. When a program is captioned live, either by a stenocaptioner or a captioner using speech recognition software, the captions will appear one word at a time, and lag behind the dialogue, although a skilled operator can keep the time lag down to 3-5 seconds.
Why are there different types of captions?
Captions are either prepared before a program goes to air, in which case they will appear one or two lines at a time (sometimes called 'block captions') or they are created as the program goes to air by a stenocaptioner or captioner using voice recognition software. Live captions appear one word at a time (sometimes called 'scrolling captions') and there is an inevitable delay between the words being spoken and the corresponding captions appearing on the screen.
Why do captions sometimes jump around the screen?
As well as being positioned to indicate who is speaking, captions must also be positioned so they don't cover any important on-screen information.
Why are there sometimes spelling mistakes or incorrect words in the captions?
In general, captions which a pre-prepared should have been edited before they go to air so they should be free of errors. With programs captioned live, while stenocaptioners and captioners using voice recognition software aim for high levels of accuracy, like anything done by a human being, live captioning may produce "typos" and incorrect words. Unlike normal typing, stenocaptioners can write entire words or phrases with a single hand motion (known as a 'stroke'). A "misstroke," can therefore produce an incorrect word or phrase.
Each stenocaptioner has a 'dictionary' incorporated in their stenographic equipment which they can update with new words, phrases or names. If the dictionary fails to recognise a word, it can appear as a string of random letters. Captioners using speech recognition also make use of dictionaries, but with this method if a word is not recognised, a word or words that sound like it will usually appear instead. When you see dropped letters, especially if those letters are dropped in pairs, word sticking to the page, or symbols appearing where letters should be, that usually indicates transmission problems or bad television reception rather than errors on the part of the captioner.
How can I record captions on TV?
You can record TV captions connected to a digital set-top box or on a digital TV, using a connected digital hard-disk recorder or DVD recorder, however not all models and brands will work effectively. It is best to discuss this with a technically minded customer service person at the point of purchase of TVs and recording devices or check capabilities online for online sellers of hardware.
Can I get captions on subscription TV?
Yes. Due to a decision of the Australian Human Rights Commission, an initial 20 channels that began captioning in October 2004 had to achieve captioning on 25% of programming by 2009, while a further 20 channels that began captioning in 2006 had to achieve 15% by 2009. These amounts had to increase by 5% each year. In June 2012, the Broadcasting Services Act was amended so that it contains mandatory caption quotas for the first time. Channels are divided into five categories - Movies, General Entertainment, News, Sport and Music - with different quotas assigned to each category.
What do I need to receive Audio Description?
Audio description (AD) on broadcast television programs is not available as a regular service on Australian television yet, but a trial of audio description occurred on ABC's iveiw platform of 14 hours a week of receiver-mixed audio description broadcast over 13 weeks. ('Receiver-mixed' means that the AD was broadcast as a second audio stream which is mixed into the program's soundtrack within the digital receiver.) For more information on the latest developments in AD on Australian TV refer to an April 2017 article on the AD on TV Working Group formed by the Government.
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