LETTER: Closed captioning political ads
To the Editor:
This is an open letter to all current and future South Dakota candidates running for local, state and national offices — on behalf of the deaf and hard of hearing citizens of this state, as well as other constituents who might benefit, we plead with you to have all your televised campaign messages, commercials and debates include closed captions, subtitles or other open caption/text accommodations so that we too can clearly understand and benefit from your statements, thoughts and messages.
The FCC's closed captioning mandates explicitly describe how video programming would comply with their rules. It is my understanding that advertisements (commercials) that are less than five minutes long are not necessarily considered "video programming" per se and are therefore exempt from requiring accessible text or captions. Nonetheless, I know that there are many business and advertisers however, that choose to caption their commercials voluntarily.
Providing captioning access allows you to reach millions of deaf and hard of hearing television viewers, as well as English language learners and many others. Captioning commercials makes good business sense and it is the right thing to do. This also applies to campaign and paid political messages — it might not be mandated but it just makes good practical sense. One can only imagine that many of these political action committees and third party entities that pay for these endless messages have deep pockets and the means to pay for it.
In South Dakota there are many deaf, hard of hearing and/or seniors with a hearing loss who are registered voters and who very much want to know what your campaign messages are all about, before going to the polls. Not only are many of these constituents voters, many make monetary contributions/donations to the same parties and individuals running for office.
Once again and for the benefit of all South Dakotans, I would like to request that all political ads on our local networks be captioned for full accessibility. I appreciate you giving this plea your kind consideration and I do wish all the current and future candidates the very best.