The Straits Times Forum – Wednesday, 13 November. Reach out to deaf community with English subtitles

On the 7th November, I wrote long letter to the Straits Times Forum about the captioning the TV programmes and movies for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. The heading in the letter was “Captioning TV programmes and movies for Deaf and Hard of Hearing”. I received the reply from ST Editor that my letter was considered to be published. Then my letter was well edited without compromising the intention of the captioning issue for the Deaf community.

On 13th November, the edited letter was published in the Straits Times. This made my day. It was my first time writing to the Straits Times. I hope that the message is loud and concise. This won’t be the first and the last letter I wrote to the Straits Times. 

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Below is the version of my original unedited letter to the Straits Times Forum. It was pretty long, straightforward and full of details.

Dear Editor,

I am writing in to appeal to the Mediacorp, Starhub TV, Singtel Mio, cinema operators and film distributors to screen the TV English speaking programmes and English movies with English subtitles. I have profound hearing loss in my both ears and rely heavily on English subtitles to understand and enjoy the TV programmes and movies. Singapore has signed United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCPRD) on 30 November 2012, ratified on 18 July and UNCPRD is enforced in Singapore on 18 August. We have not seen full accessibility for the Deaf community.

Our basic right as Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals, is to access to information under the UNCRPD Article 9: Accessibility and Article 21: Freedom of expression and opinion, and access to information. We need equal amount of information as the hearing counterparts to increase our knowledge. Not only Deaf and Hard of Hearing benefiting from the captioning, the hearing viewers especially the children and students would be able to read the captions to improve their vocabulary, spelling and reading comprehension.

Mediacorp should have captioned most of the English speaking channels on Channel 5, OKTO and Channelnewsasia to reach out to the Deaf community. Currently only handful of TV programmes were captioned. Some of the TV programmes were shown in English subtitles and often broadcasted late into the early morning. Most of us could not stay up until so late to watch captioned TV programmes, In other words, we are deprived our rights to access to information. Starhub TV has facility to change subtitles, which is only available on Channel 876. The Starhub viewers can press on asterisk on the Starhub remote control to change subtitles. We desire to have more channels like National Geographic, Discovery Channel and HBO to be closed captioned. Singtel Mio subscribers should get the similar facility and captioned TV programmes as well. We can easily turn on and off the captions by using remote control. 

Since 16 May 2013, the first English blockbuster movie, Star Trek into Darkness was screened with English subtitles in GV Vivocity that brought much delight and excitement to the Deaf community. The United International Pictures was first film distributor to put in English subtitles in the blockbuster movie. GV Cinemas have screened total of 10 movies since May 2013. Sony Pictures, Warner Brothers and Marvel have been supportive in captioning the films. 

However we do wish to have more captioned movies, not just blockbuster movies that get to be captioned. Currently, Thor: The Dark World with English subtitles is being screened in GV Vivocity, GV Plaza, GV Tampines and GV Yishun. Having English subtitles would definitely benefit the hearing cinema patrons to understand the movie plots better when they could not catch the words because of heavy accents in the dialogues and a lot of jargons in the movies.

Singapore has been making efforts to be inclusive society. This would mean that Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals should have full accessibility in media. Our greatest disability is the apathy of service providers, not our deafness. 

Thank you.

Regards,

Yeo Chi Jin, Alfred

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