I quit watching the National Geographic Channel ages ago due to the fact that instead of doing a voice over when dealing with a language other than English, they caption. That’s fine if you are going to sit, glued, to the television and watch every minute. I gave up after something about the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, was basically nothing but caption and I wanted to listen, but was doing something where I could not watch the program. On Tuesday night, I was listening to something on Animal Planet, which did the same thing. It dawned on me that by not doing a voice over, if a person was visually impaired, they were out of luck.
Sure, captions are far more sophisticated, but they assume the person involved in a program is not visually impaired and knows how to read. It is almost obscenely discriminatory in its sophistication. After all, one must prove how culturally sensitive one is, even if you prohibit 2.3% of the population from enjoying your program. There are as many people who are completely blind in the US as there are Muslims. Good cultural liberals would never ever do anything to bring discomfort to someone who is Muslim, but these same individuals are blatantly preventing the very same number of people from access to their programming.
This is alarming. I thought we lived in a nation where everyone who was disabled had access to so many things, yet, if a person is seriously visually impaired, only 40% are employed. We live in a modern world, yet this modern world is doing very little to accommodate them. What’s more, 85% of juveniles who are in the criminal justice system in this country are functionally illiterate. The very act of not doing a voice over automatically eliminates access to knowledge which might change their lives. Add to this the fact that 23 million Americans are functionally illiterate and it is rather obvious those people are not part of the consumer profile.
All I was doing was piddling around in the kitchen, trying to find something to fix for supper and not get involved in the cooking process. There was this fascinating show about a man eating tiger. Suddenly, the production cut into about ten minutes of a specific back country Indian language, with no voice over translation. I was not near the television. I don’t ‘watch’ television, glued to it. I do other things. I suddenly realized by not using voice-overs, we’re talking a good 25 million individuals are being denied the right to even enjoy a program.