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Monday, February 16, 2004

Protecting the hard of hearing from witchcraft and cartoons...

You know, if someone told me that a five-member panel had decided that deaf and hard-of-hearing people needed to be shielded from witchcraft on TV (like, well Bewitched, or I Dream of Jeannie. Or Scooby-Doo), not to mention such risque and dangerous shows as Justice League and Malcolm in the Middle...

And if someone told me that the five people on the panel (whose identities and guidelines have to be kept secret) didn't know they were actually on a panel, never met each other, nor knew that their views on TV would decide what was and was not suitable for the deaf to be able to watch...

And if the result of this mysterious panel's deliberations was that the US Department of Education was to declare over 200 TV programs (almost no cartoons, except for things like Prince of Egypt. No more sports. Precious little drama...) were now inappropriate for closed-caption funding...

28 million Americans are now being protected from Sabrina...

Well, that would be news, wouldn't it?

When Charles Brownstein of the CBLDF mentioned it to me, I was astonished I hadn't run across it anywhere before. I searched Google News: here's the only article I've been able to find about it, in a Palm Beach Paper.

"They've suddenly narrowed down the definition of those three kinds of programming without public input," says Kelby Brick, director of the NAD's law and advocacy center. "Basically, the department wants to limit captioning to puritan shows. The department wants to ensure that deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals are not exposed to any non-puritan programming. Never mind that the rest of the country is allowed to be exposed."

And, in case you think there's exaggeration going on, here's the list -- from the National Association of the Deaf website -- of what shows were approved to be closed-captioned, and which ones disapproved.:

(And here's a fascinating NAD press release, complaining that the new rules are damaging both family values and parental accountability.)

Still, it doesn't seem to be news. I think it should be. If more people knew about it, it might be.

So I'm mentioning it here. Spread the word.
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