MANILA - Senator Grace Poe is pushing for closed captioning or subtitling of television programs for the sake of the disabled.
In her speech sponsoring Senate Bill 2239, Poe said: “The legislation has the objective of allowing the deaf, deafened and hard of hearing individuals access to a full variety of television programs through the aid of closed-captions and thus, permitting them to engage and be part of popular culture.”
Senate Bill 2239 is entitled “An Act Requiring All Franchise Holders or Operators of Television Stations and Producers of Television Programs to Broadcast or Present their Programs with Closed Captions Option, and For Other Purposes.”
The bill mandates television stations to present their programs with closed caption options. This means that the viewer has the discretion to hide or show the captions.
“I trust that in this phase, the MTRCB, NTC and the TV stations will devise mechanisms to fully realize the objectives and intents of this bill,” she said.
During a previous hearing, resource persons cited the capacity of television networks to support the system especially for pre-recorded and canned shows, she said.
Poe said there is no reliable data at the moment on the number of persons with disabilities.
At the very least, 1.4 million persons with hearing disabilities were reported in the latest census, she said.
In 2009, the reported deaf population was at 241,624 and those who are partially deaf at 275,912. A considerable 517,536 have limited access to media information because they are hearing impaired, she quoted the Philippine Statistics Authority as saying.
She also cited a study by the Department of Education (DepED) indicating that 97% of children with disabilities are not in school.
She said closed-captioning “provides a critical link to news, entertainment and information to individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.”