CBC is dedicated to reflecting the diversity of our audience and removing barriers to accessing content. Some of the tools CBC uses on its television and digital platforms include:
Closed Captions are textual representations of dialogue and other audio (including music and sound effects) overlaid on a video. Whereas closed captions can be turned on or off by audiences, open captions are burned in and always visible.
CBC captions 100% of its TV programs on all of its channels, and when these programs are offered across its digital platforms, captions are included. In addition, all programs that are available exclusively online via CBC GEM are captioned (including feature length and short films, comedy and drama series as well as international content from other broadcasters).
Many people use captions to enjoy their favourite TV programs, but few understand how the captions are made. Most people think captions are created automatically by computers. In fact, captions are created by people, highly skilled and trained people. Computers aren't smart enough yet to accurately caption the content in live broadcasts.
Captioning live programming, like news and sports, is the hardest part of a captioner's job because the captions have to be created at the same time as the broadcast. The following video explains how live captioners generate accurate and timely captions under pressure.
"Watch how captioners generate Closed Captions"
"Watch an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter explain how captions are generated"
Described video is a technique for making video accessible to blind and partially sighted audiences. It involves a narrator describing a video's key visual elements, typically during pauses in dialogue. Described video is added to fully packaged, completed programs through a secondary audio track. CBC offers described video on a wide range of content including kids programs, live events, and drama, comedy, variety, reality, long-form documentary, general entertainment and human interest programming broadcast between 7 and 11 p.m. on CBC TV and documentary channel, as well as on CBC GEM when this content is offered on-demand.
CBC also uses Integrated Described Video, where the identification of key visual elements is incorporated into the production of the program and included in the main audio track.
CBC provides audio description for all in-house, information-based programs to ensure accessibility for blind and partially sighted audiences. As defined by the CRTC: "Audio Description relies on a program host or announcer to provide a voice-over by reading aloud or describing key elements of programming, such as text and graphics that appear on screen. It is often used for information based programming, including newscasts, weather reports, sports scores and financial data." For example, when stock market data is displayed on the screen during a newscast, CBC hosts and announcers will read the information aloud.
In addition, CBC offers transcripts for select podcasts, including:
- Missing & Murdered: Finding Cleo
- The Secret Life of Canada
- Tai Asks Why
- Who Killed Alberta Williams
- Someone Knows Something
- Hunting Warhead
- The Loop
- Recall: How to Start a Revolution
- Evil by Design
We will continue our efforts to make more audio content accessible in the near future.
While captions provide an accessible experience for many, they do not meet the needs of all deaf audiences, specifically those whose primary mode of communication is sign language. There are many distinct sign languages used around the world. American Sign Language is a fully developed language with its own unique grammar, completely separate from spoken language. It conveys emotion and tone through gestures and facial expressions in a way text cannot. Including sign language in CBC content also increases representation and awareness of Deaf culture.
CBC endeavours to integrate sign language interpreters into all news conferences where they are present (in-frame where possible, or picture-in-picture) and has also started producing signed content in-house, in collaboration with deaf and hearing interpreters.
At CBC we believe that all children should have access to quality children's programming. We created some videos to highlight that our children's programming is available with closed captions and described video for anyone who would have a better viewing experience by using these tools. We also believe it is especially important for all children to see children like themselves represented on mainstream television programming.
Mr. Orlando Learns About Described Video with Yasna
Mr. Orlando's friend Yasna teaches him about described video and why extra narration helps her visualize what's happening on television.
Mr. Orlando Learns About Closed Captioning with Io and Maelle
Maelle, with her sister Io, teach Mr. Orlando about closed captioning and how it helps her watch television.
Mr. Orlando Learns About Closed Captioning with Kellen
Mr. Orlando and his friend Kellen watch Studio K together with the closed captioning turned on, and Kellen explains how captioning helps people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Gary Learns About Described Video with Juliet
Juliet teaches Gary about described video and why descriptions in general help her paint a picture of what's happening.
Gary Learns About Closed Captioning with Lukas and Reed
Gary's pal Lukas, along with his brother Reed, teach Gary about closed captioning and why it's available.
Gary Learns About Closed Captioning with Jordan and Carly
Jordan, along with his sister Carly, teach Gary about closed captioning and how he uses it to understand what's happening on television.
If you have any comments or suggestions, please complete our form within the Accessibility Feedback page.
We invite you to consult these links to learn more about CBC's commitment to making accessible content: