To experience watching a multimedia product without the ability to hear, turn off the volume on your television set. Some programs, such as sporting events, are fairly easy to follow by watching the visual display. Others, such as news programs, make little sense without audio. To make this content accessible to those who are deaf, a sign language interpreter or text captioning can appear on the screen. Captioning is more common because not all individuals who are deaf know sign language and there isn't one standard version of sign language.
Millions of Americans experience enough hearing loss to affect their ability to watch a television program at a typical volume level. Some people are born deaf or hard of hearing, some experience a hearing loss from accident or illness, and many gradually lose their ability to hear. The elderly are the fastest-growing group of individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. Captions on video products allow these people to fully access educational and recreational programs.
For more information, consult Creating Video and Multimedia Products That Are Accessible to People with Sensory Impairments.