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Annie’s Mailbox: Hard of hearing offer tips to TV stations

Mon., Dec. 24, 2012

Dear Annie: On behalf of the approximately 40 million deaf and hearing impaired in the United States and Canada, especially those who wear hearing aids, would you pass this message to the TV stations?

I love watching TV: sitcoms, news, dramas, reality shows, all of it. Being hearing impaired, I rely on closed captioning so I don’t miss the story and commercials. But if the station doesn’t provide closed captioning, I will change channels to find a program that does.

In the newsroom, if the producers insist on playing music while the news anchor or onsite reporter is speaking, I can’t hear the story and will change channels.

And you advertisers? I recommend you view your commercials on mute and see how they come across. I’m still laughing at the credit card commercial that somehow ties dogs and chocolate bars together. It looks suspiciously like dog droppings. I have no idea what you’re selling.

Hearing aids are wonderful, but they pick up every piece of noise, and background music becomes as loud as the dialogue. It’s impossible to hear what is going on. As our population ages, there will be more hearing impaired persons. And young people aren’t far behind in experiencing hearing loss.

So, TV stations and advertisers, if you want your message to get across to another 40 million customers and fans, please ensure that your audio programming can be clearly heard. Thanks. – Frustrated Viewer in Red Deer, Alberta

Dear Canada: We cannot tell you how many readers (even those without hearing problems) have complained that they can’t hear dialogue over the background music, and that actors and news anchors don’t articulate sufficiently to be understood. If programmers and advertisers realize that viewers change the channel when listening becomes difficult, perhaps they will pay more attention.

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