Wednesday , 23 July 2014
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WWE Blocking Accessibility Without Closed Captioning

I’ve been a WWE fan since I was born and been watching their programming in the last twenty-one years. I bought the Pay-Per-Views (PPV), I have given up my free time to watch WWE programing that amounts to four-eight hours every-week not including the weeks that include PPVs  I still occasionally buy the WWE magazines, action figures and other merchandise.

Yet, I sometimes feel like the accessibility with the WWE has sometimes been unfair to me as a Deaf person. On their websites they provide videos of Wrestler interviews, clips and recaps of recent programming. They once even aired two shows online, “WWE Superstars” and “NXT”. I can’t enjoy any of the videos as I have no clue what they’re saying as none of the videos have the option for close captioning. With the shows airing on Hulu+, I do not have the confidence within me to believe they’ll provide close captions.

Raw, Smackdown any other show that airs on television have close captions for obvious reasons. As Federal Communications Commission requires all analog television receivers with screens 13 inches or larger sold or manufactured in the United States to contain built-in decoder circuitry to display closed captioning. (source: http://www.fcc.gov/guides/closed-captioning)

Yet, sometimes the close captioning on the main shows are atrocious. Take this for example:

Pro-Wrestling is not all about the wrestling aspect as the storylines have ways of progressing outside of the ring. You have wrestlers cutting promos. You have the commentary that does a play-by-play of the match which enhances the wrestlers profile and match in the eyes of fans.

With social media being ingrained to our lives, the WWE is now progressing their storylines and feud with Facebook, Twitter, TOUT and their own website. Interviewing their wrestlers gives them a chance to elaborate on their actions and on what they say which progresses the storyline.

If for whatever reason I miss Raw or Smackdown then I would go on the WWE website to see the recaps. I would have to search for articles as the videos are worthless to me without captions. Now let’s say that I’m overreacting as the videos with the interviews, recaps and other kinds of videos are essentially extra content.

Well, they previously air two one hour shows online via their site and they’re without close captions. They used to be on Television and when they were, the shows they had captions. Now that they’re online, I can’t hear the commentary, promos or even the back stage skits. Even with my cochlear implant on it sounds like those adults on Charlie Brown cartoons are talking with a, “Wah wah woh wah wah” kind of sound.

Even their YouTube videos don’t even provide captions.  Not even the crappy transcribe audio, which would AT least be something, even if it messes up on words to often to the point of forcing me to play a guessing game, but it’s better than nothing.

Now captions can aid the hearing folks as well since there are scenarios where captions can be useful for everyone. If you’re watching a PPV in a bar that is crowded, even a hearing person could have a hard time hearing a wrestler give a promo thus captions would be useful. Maybe you’re checking out some WWE content during class time or someone is sleeping nearby, the captions will help.

With the internet being integrated with businesses, sport organizations and virtually every aspect of our lives, it would seem like a no-brainer to have close captions as an option for their videos. If the WWE could not do that for whatever reason then they should provide transcripts at least.

I don’t just encounter this issue with the WWE website as I have the same issues with Yahoo.com as every time I click on of their news tabs and if I get a video I click back as they never provide captions for ANY of their videos unless I get lucky that it comes with an article. The same can be said about the Bleacher Report.

In this day and age there remains no excuses to NOT provide close captioning for any videos. I’m not going to sit on my hands and do nothing as I believe I have the right to be able to access the videos just as hearing people can. I’ll probably write some letters to the WWE or least walk right into the WWE headquarters and try, hopefully not in vain, to get captioning for all the online videos that the WWE provides!

I might not accomplish anything of importance as I’m just one dude but it’s better than doing nothing while hoping on a whim that they add captions.

About Jacob Waring

If you want to know about me, wait for the autobiography like everyone else.
  • http://www.facebook.com/JamJulLison James Wilson

    Like it has been said on live shows, it just isn’t always so easy to get correct and completely accurate close captioning. There isn’t much of a delay between it being recorded and it being broadcasted. You might get a couple minutes at the most. So your lucky to have any captions at all for Raw on tv. As for prerecorded shows like smackdown and showing recaps of raw and ppvs, yes it could be done. First they have to go through word for word and type out what is being said. Some companies may have software to make this easier. IDK for sure. But the point is, it needs to be done and you have to make sure set of words is set for the right point in the video. Then you gotta decide do you want hardcoded subs or softcodes. Hardcoded are encrypted directly onto the video itself and can never be undone. Softcoded are when they are created usually as a separate file that can be loaded up. Though with MKVs they put them in the same container but keep them separate. Not all web players can play softcoded subs. Most of them seem to use either flv or mp4 which requires a separate file for the subs. About the only option wwe would have for this would be for these subs to be hardcoded. In which case there won’t be a lot of reusability for the videos online. In the end I think WWE thinks it is just too much work. Not to mention it has become more about the money these days. They don’t really care too much what the fans think these days as long as they continue to make money. That is just the sad truth. Look at how crappy most of their storylines have been in recent years. It isn’t the same quality it used to be. Neither is the quality of the actual matches. So I can’t really see them taking the extra effort to make their videos online more deaf people friendly. That said I wonder what blind people think about WWE since they can’t really see the matches but they have to listen to michael cole drone on and on. Or how about when they have to listen to the ever so annoying Vickie Guererro. She makes me wish i was def. lol

  • http://twitter.com/E__RAGE Eric

    I personally use closed caption all the time actually. I find it easier to watch and understand movies and since I’ve used it for years, it’s a habit.

    I’ve seen the captioning for WWE and TNA and while I’ve never really noticed the problems such as wrong words. I do have a problem with the lag. I’ll see the words come out about 20 seconds later.

    • Jacob Waring

      The lag has become one of those thing I have to accept as when it comes to live shows, there no way to avoid a lag since the closed captioning cannot predict what anyone will say before hand, while a prerecorded show on the other hand has no excuse.

  • SiD

    Pretty awesome article, man.

    • Jacob Waring

      Thanks Sid.

  • JacobStachowiak

    I used to use captions all the time when I’d have family over, screaming and yelling. I used to have to watch Impact with it on cause my little cousins would be playing around. I really like to be able to do so on TV and I’d like for those who are fans of the product (who are hearing impaired) to be able to follow ALL of the product (except shitty albums of course haha)

    • Jacob Waring

      Most people take for granted the ability to even watch any wrestling product without having to worry about missing any promos, commentary and other aspects. The funny thing is that the WWE’s video games have captions but most of their video products do not.

  • http://twitter.com/JoEburGett_WE Joe Burgett

    Captioning is difficult, you have to understand this. For live shows especially. They simply have to move fast and making a mistake is going to happen. TV was never meant for the deaf originally, then they made the caption available. It’s very hard to do captioning for live shows, because it’s live and happening then, for taped it’s somewhat easier but time consuming. There is not enough deaf people in their mind to perfect the captioning. For movies in theaters, I’m sorry, you just won’t see this. For those at home on TV, sure you deserve it to be there as they had plenty of time to put it in.

    As far as putting them in Internet videos, this is VERY tough to do. Try and do it with your videos and see how easy it is to add the captioning. I know you are deaf Jacob, and are passionate on this topic. I get that. But you do need to realize that adding captions will not be the easiest thing.

    I have made videos using all sorts of editing software. For ‘net videos, we have to go in and add the words by hand, pasting them one at a time. Why do that when you can simply just upload the taped to computer, digital copy to the Internet? WWE is a busy company and those editors have what, 7 programs to edit per week? Double that to put them out on the ‘net or just snippets from the show. You tell me what you would work on more, editing to put in captions on every single, freaking video that goes out. Or, put the video itself out to get it there. I’d go with the latter.

    • Jacob Waring

      Fortunately, advances in end-user software workflows are slowly but
      steadily helping to reduce the complexity of closed captioning, such
      that it is now practical for most editors with modest NLE systems to do
      their own captioning, even in HD.

      Also, recent advances in software encoding for popular NLE systems
      have drastically reduced the cost of entry and resources needed to do
      closed captioning in-house.

      When it comes to Televisions shows, they’re required by law to add captions. Online WILL follow suit. Movie theaters are using glasses-captions and caption display systems, when adding captions to movies is not that bothersome, just lazy.

      • http://twitter.com/JoEburGett_WE Joe Burgett

        It’s not a lazy issue, it’s a time issue. Captions are done for WWE events for TV due to the FCC. But the thing is, movies are not covered under that for WWE. So, they obviously don’t have to. The same with the Internet, because no one owns it. The FCC has no long arm if you will past TV. For shows like SmackDown the captions can be much better, unless live. For RAW, which is always live, the aspect of “making it better” will always be an issue due to the difficulty it is to do this.

        The software at use for this only helps a few things. First, it allows them to work right into the TV viewing area. So you’re seeing it as it’s being typed. It then allows them to take a second to correct if need be. The NLE system is basically what I described and is also an audio editing thing at it’s pure base. It does not put the words in correct on auto, which is why many do it manual.

        To help understand this, try saying something into an android phone under the “voice search” and see what actually comes up when you say a word. This is basically what NLE does, which is why you see so many mistakes from many of them. This is why many places prefer manual. And it’s much tougher.

        Your movie theater mention is only available in choice areas of the US currently, and used in close to 5% of theaters in the States. And they have the same issues the NLE does.

        I have no issue with WWE adding captions to their home BlueRay/DVD stuff. This is just right to do. But I would not expect them to do it with the ‘net. And the shows will probably always be what you see now.