Did you know the first demonstration of closed-captioning was held at Gallaudet College in 1972? The first TV show? Mod Squad!

Real-time captioning was developed in 1982 when court reporters were trained to give television viewers virtually instant access to live news, sports and entertainment broadcasts. During the 1980s, television networks began to caption their shows, but viewers had to use separate caption boxes. In 1993, all analog TVs over 13” were required to contain captioning technology. About the same time, the American’s with Disabilities Act required that all public facilities provide access to verbal information on TVs.

The captioning of live shows can be the most frustrating as the person performing the transcription must first hear the speech before he or she can caption it. Recorded broadcasts are, of course, much easier to watch as the captioning is performed ahead of time and inserted into the recording. Either way, having the captions is a valuable service.

With the advent of digital televisions, HD broadcasts, and the myriad secondary components (DVD players, etc.), many viewers have lost access to closed-captioning. This is, in part, because of problems decoding the various captioning signals, and, in part, because of the difficulty accessing the captioning menu on new TVs and stand-alone captioning boxes. Because the cost of universal conversion software is so high, we will have to wait a little longer for complete satisfaction.

Recently, Netflix has announced that it will caption 100 percent of its entire online-streaming library by 2014 and any new content within 30 days of release. You can read more about this precedent-setting action here.