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E-Michigan Deaf and Hard of Hearing People.

News: June 2003

Making a Difference: Captioned Cable TV

Susan Frymire and her hearing dog, Hobbes

Susan Frymire and her hearing dog, Hobbes

Traverse City– A desire to watch a T.V show, a moment of frustration, a phone call, some follow–up and one person makes a difference! Susan Frymire, a Traverse City resident and member of the local chapter of Self Help for Hard of Hearing People (SHHH) learned that one person can improve access, even when dealing with large companies.

Susan had been hearing about the PAX–TV cable television show, “Sue Thomas: F.B. Eye” (see related story). She was interested in watching the show and assumed, since it was about a deaf person, that there would be captions. She assumed wrong. At least on her T.V., there were no captions.

Susan did a little research, found the phone number of PAX–TV and gave them a call. She spoke to a technician at the station who confirmed that the show is captioned. Therefore, the problem must be with the local cable company.

The company providing cable to Traverse City is Charter Communications. Charter is not just a local company. They are the &third–largest broadband communications business in the country and a Fortune 500 company conducting business in 40 states,& according to their web site. Susan’s call may only have impacted caption viewers in her local region, but the message she sent to the company was a strong one: Captions matter and customers care!

When Susan called Charter, prior to Christmas 2002, she was told an expensive piece of equipment was needed to unscramble and display the captions for cable viewers. Susan emailed the General Manager requesting this equipment be purchased and installed.

The General Manager responded, ordered the equipment, and in Spring 2003, the equipment was installed. For a while, the captions were not coming through clearly. Another call from Susan, and the problems were eventually straightened out.

According to Susan, “They never would have bought and installed the equipment if I hadn’t started asking about it. It took me from September of 2002 to just this month (May 2003) to get the captions on PAX–TV.” Susan clarified that she only benefited deaf and hard of hearing people who watch the show on Charter Cable, but that could potentially include viewers in 40 states! Good work, Susan!

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