Author: Sean Zdenek

Sean Zdenek is an associate professor of technical communication and rhetoric at Texas Tech University. He is the author of Reading Sounds: Closed-Captioned Media and Popular Culture (University of Chicago Press, 2015).

When we talk about closed captioning–what it is, why it is important, the audiences it serves–we tend to assume a straightforward process of transcribing sounds for viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing. This process begins after the video is completed. The captioner transcribes the work by copying the speech sounds into a written form. Meaning is assumed to be transparent, inherent in the sounds themselves. Transcription is likewise assumed to be a self-evident practice. In the college classroom, students are instructed to caption their own multimodal video assignments using basic tools such as Beyond the classroom and…

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