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A New Civil Right: Telecommunications Equality for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Americans

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1. Missy Whatmough McManus, “Quality in Captioning: The Key to Equal Access,” NADmag (June/July 2002): 18–19.

2. Edmund Burke Boatner, “Captioned Films for the Deaf,” American Annals of the Deaf (August 1981): 520–525; Malcolm J. Norwood, “Captioning for the Deaf: An Historical Overview,” in Judy Harkins and Bobby Virvan (Eds.) Speech to Text: Today and Tomorrow Proceedings of a Conference at Gallaudet University, GRI Monograph series (Washington, D.C.: Gallaudet University, 1989), 133–38.

3. P. L. 85-905 was signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on September 2, 1958 The Library of Congress had originally been chosen to run the program because it was the agency responsible for making reading materials accessible to blind individuals.

4. Initially, the laws that expanded the scope of the captioned law were P.L. 87-715 (September 28, 1962), P.L. 89-258 (October 19, 1965), P.L. 90-247 (January 2, 1968), and P.L. 91-61 (August 20, 1969). The program was later renamed Media and Captioned Films.

5. National Conference on Television for the Hearing Impaired, sponsored by the Southern Regional Media Center for the Deaf at the University of Tennessee at Nashville, December 14–16, 1971.

6. Other captioning applications were tested by Hazeltine Research, Inc., and HRB-Singer Co., the latter of which used a portion of the video signal that was typically received off the edge of the picture. Variations in reception and fears that this technology might hurt the life of the television picture tube ultimately eliminated this as a possible solution. Malcolm J. Norwood, “The Development and Growth of Closed Captioned Television,” Written Proceedings of the National Conference on Deaf and Hard of Hearing People, El Paso, Texas. (September 14, 1988), 94–98.

7. R. T. Root (ed.), An Analytical and Experimental Investigation of Means of Enhancing the Value of Television as a Medium of Communication for the Hearing Impaired, Study done by HRB Singer, Inc. under contract to U.S. Office of Education, 1970.

8. Mardi Loeterman, “The Caption Center at Nineteen,” Deaf American 39 no. 2 (spring 1989): 9–15.

9. Several years later, the FCC would do away with this rule. In the 1970s, stations often went off the air during the early morning hours, known as the dark hours. During the winter of 1980, the FCC proposed to allow use of this dead air time for news, financial information, sports, and other informational programming without audio or with background music. On March 5, 1980, NCLD sent in comments supporting the revision as one that could increase access to television by deaf and hard of hearing people. See Operation of Visual and Aural Transmitters of TV Stations, BC Dkt. 80-10, FCC 80-22, 45 Fed. Reg. 6419 (January 28, 1980). The rule now permits aural and visual transmitters to be operated independently of each other or, if operated together, to be used with different and unrelated program material. 47 C.F.R. §73.653.

10. Loeterman, “The Caption Center,” 9–15

11. Interviews with Phil Collyer and Larry R. Goldberg, July 28, 2003.

12. Public Broadcasting Service, “Closed Captioning Service for the Hearing Impaired,” PBS Fact Sheet (September 1977): 2.

13. The petition, RM-2616, was filed on November 6, 1975, and requested amendment of subpart E of Part 73 of the FCC’s rules.

14. Senate Resolution 573, 122 Cong. Rec. 34716 (October 1, 1976); reprinted in NCLD Newsletter 1(fall 1976): 7.

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