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American Annals of the Deaf

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Turn on the Words!
Deaf Audiences, Captions, and the Long Struggle for Access

Harry G. Lang

Foreword by Ernest E. Hairston
Afterword by Jason Stark

October 2021

  $34.95 paperback, ebook

The story of how captioning came into the lives of deaf and hard of hearing people has not been told with any detail, though captions are one of the greatest technological advancements in the effort to improve access to films, television, and other video content for both deaf and hearing audiences. In Turn on the Words!, Harry G. Lang documents the struggles and strategies over nearly a century to make spoken communication accessible through the use of captioning technology.

       Lang describes the legislation, programs, and people who contributed great ingenuity and passion over decades to realize widespread access to captions, one breakthrough at a time. He also chronicles the resistance to captioned films from Hollywood studios and others, and the Deaf and hearing activists who championed the right to access. Deaf, hard of hearing, disabled, and English-as-a-second-language audiences now experience improved access to the educational, occupational, and cultural benefits of film and television programming. The struggle continues as deaf audiences advocate for equal access in a variety of settings such as movie theaters and online video-sharing platforms. This is a history of technological innovation, as well as a testament to the contributions of the Deaf community to the benefit of society as a whole.

Harry G. Lang is Professor Emeritus, National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology. His previous books include Fighting in the Shadows: Untold Stories of Deaf People in the Civil War and A Phone of Our Own: The Deaf Insurrection Against Ma Bell. He is a recipient of the Dr. John S. and Dr. Betty J. Schuchman Deaf History Award for excellence in the field of Deaf history.

Paperback
ISBN 978-1-944838-84-3
328 pages. 6 x 9. 40 photographs, bibliography, index.
$34.95

Ebook
ISBN 978-1-944838-85-0
$34.95

This book has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this book do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.