Candidates, Captions in Political Ads Please!

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While some of us turn the sound off when political ads come on, those who can’t hear them in the first place want to know what candidates are peddling.

The airwaves are full of debates and speaking events and predictions and (dare we say it) television commercials in the markets headed for primary caucuses and elections. There is one thing wrong with many of those TV ads. No, it’s not that they exist or that they’re misleading (although that can be true). I’m not even referring to the shady third party issue ads that crowd the screen all too often.

I’m talking about closed captioning.

The FCC has rules and guidelines for captioning of television shows, whether recorded ahead of time or aired live. Commercials, however, are still inconsistent. Some have captioning, some don’t. And many, all too many candidates bypass the time and the cost of captioning their commercials.

Think of those with hearing losses. Baby boomers raised on loud music, senior citizens with age-related hearing loss, millennials brought up on ear buds – all of these people are likely to miss the details in a well-made commercial. Then bring in those hearing problems not listed above — people with hearing aids or cochlear implants for whatever reason, from illness or hereditary conditions, from environmental problems like combat noise, among others. The size of the group grows.

Think about it. If you’re a candidate or working for a candidate, do you want to leave all of those voters out of your audience? That’s what happens if the ads aren’t captioned.

Closed captioning isn’t free. It costs money, and it costs time. However, paying the captioner and taking the time to load captions into an ad are investments. If those captions help a candidate to connect with voters, this additional cost of doing business can reach voters who may not have heard the candidate’s message – literally.

Readers, do you watch television with captioning on? Do you notice when a show or an ad has captioning – or doesn’t? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Tracy Ostwald Kowald is a teacher by trade and writer by nature. She started blogging in 2006 as a way to express herself and deal with everyday stresses. Using the blog as an outlet, she documented her journey through a deep and frightening clinical depression. She continues to blog as a supplement to therapy and an outlet for the creative writer that still raises its hand now and then and says, “Me! Call on me!”

Image via Flickr/DonkeyHotey/CC License

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