Most TV shows in Canada come with the possibility of switching on a stream of printed words that translate sounds into readable text at the bottom of the screen. So-called “closed captioning” provides a way for people who have difficulty hearing to enjoy the television experience. This is a part of everyday life today, but it wasn’t always so.
In the 1990s, Henry Vlug was frustrated because many of the shows broadcast by the CBC were not accessible to the Deaf, deafened and hard of hearing community. Only a small number of CBC programs had closed captioning at the time.
In 1997, Mr. Vlug filed a complaint under the Canadian Human Rights Act based on disability. Even though he was Deaf, Mr. Vlug believed he had the right to be served by the CBC the same as any Canadian.
In 2000, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled that the CBC was discriminating against the Deaf, deafened and hard of hearing by not offering closed captioning service for all its programs. Today, closed captioning is a well known feature on television sets across Canada.