Captioned radio – no more radio blah blah? 

If there is one form of media that is the least accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing, its radio. Those of us with some hearing have a chance but with no visual reference or aid it is very difficult to follow. Consequently I have never been much of a radio listener, it is just too much work and not a very relaxing experience. Even as a teenager recording the Top 40 onto tape cassette (showing my age again now!) I remember having to always record the entire DJ links in between songs because there was no way I would catch what song was being introduced before the start of the track. So the easiest way was just to record it all rather than stop it between each song. When digital radio came along I remember thinking it was something of a novelty to have a digital screen that displayed the radio stationed you were tuned into. And sometimes it would display information about what you were listening to such as the name of the programme or the name of the song and the artist if music was playing. Even this small amount of information helps to provide context for the audio that I do still try to listen to and enjoy when turning on the radio. It never really occurred to me until reading about it online that this concept could be extended to provide verbatim captions for radio content so that a listener could read everything that is being said. If this was widely available I’d no doubt consume far more radio than I currently do.

The most advanced progress to making captioned radio a reality is the work of NPR labs in the US. Take a look at this video for more info:

There is also a crowd funded project for captioned radio called EAR (Eye Audio Radio) currently in development:

Both of these projects are quite exciting and I hope we’ll see further developments and others developing such services. Some online radio is already captioned (such as That Keith Wann Show which is captioned live via CART by StenoKnight) Why not extend this to podcasts – either live or pre-recorded. I would love to be able to download a podcast complete with captions to help me follow it. In fact being honest I’ve not checked to see if anyone is already doing this at all?