02 February 2011 ~ Comments

A New Super Bowl Record!

Every year millions of Americans throw huge parties, gather around the TV and go all out for an American tradition – The Super Bowl.  Even for those of us who could care less about which teams are playing, we still watch.  Perhaps it’s because of the outstanding half-time show or maybe because of the award-winning commercials – no matter what the reason, almost everyone will be watching during the “big game.”

Unfortunately, in times past, this American tradition hasn’t been completely accessible to all Americans.  The 36 million people in the United States who are deaf and hard of hearing have missed-out in at least part of this experience.  This was caused because although the broadcast of the game is required by law to carry closed-captioning, the 30 and 60 second commercials and promotions do not have such a requirment.

In recent years, many advertisers made the choice to voluntarily close-caption their commercials.  Most likely the deciding factor to do this was so that they could get the “most bang for their buck.”  After all, if you’re paying three million dollars for 30 seconds of airtime, you need to reach as many viewers as possible.  And that’s good thinking on their part.  While there are 36 million Americans who rely on closed-captioning, there are also countless others packed into a noisy bar or restaurant watching the game too.  So the best way for those advertisers to effectively get their message across is to make sure it’s accessible to as many viewers as possible.

With the help of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and the National Football League (NFL), over the past few years more and more of the televised Super Bowl broadcast has been captioned.  In fact, last year, we heard reports that around 70% of the broadcast was presented with closed-captioning.  We even blogged about it! [read more]

So what can we expect this year?  The NAD has proudly announced that Super Bowl XLV will be 100% captioned – including the game, national commercials, and network promotions [read more].  Thanks to the efforts of the NAD and the NFL along with FOX Broadcasting Company, for the first time ever, the entire Super Bowl experience will be captioned from start to finish.

It is exciting to see that years of awareness education, public outcry and advocacy groups like the NAD have led to this important milestone.  Perhaps this example by the Super Bowl advertisers will lead the way to more commercials on television also being made accessible to deaf and hard of hearing consumers.

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