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About NCRA

About Captioning

Broadcast captioners, also called stenocaptioners, use stenotype machines and realtime technology to produce instantaneous English text, which appears on the television screen for the benefit of the more than 28 million deaf and hard-of-hearing Americans, as well as non-native speakers of English who are learning the language and for general use in noisy places, like gyms, bars, and airports. Captioners work for local stations and networks captioning news, emergency broadcasts, sporting events, and other programming.

Broadcast captioning offers people who are deaf or hard of hearing the ability to obtain news and other vital information from live television. Broadcast captioning also opens up the world to the deaf and hard-of-hearing by allowing them to interact and participate in civic and personal events, such as city council meetings, medical appointments, church services, etc.


The skills needed to caption can take up to four years to learn before a person can provide live captioning. Captioners are highly trained professionals who are proficient in realtime, which is the only method for immediate voice-to-text translation. Becoming a broadcast captioner requires the combination of an appropriate skill level with a unique set of personality traits. A captioner must be self-motivated, reliable, able to work well under pressure, organized, and detail-oriented. Captioners are expected to write words that are spoken plus all punctuation and non-verbal audio, such as when a door bell rings. NCRA has developed a new realtime specialty certification for individuals interested in becoming captioners in order to ensure quality standards.


  • Captioners may work from home as independent contractors or in-house for established companies.
  • The Telecommunications Act of 1996 requires that by 2006, 100 percent of all new programming in the top 25 markets must be captioned.
  • More than 28 million Americans are considered deaf or hard of hearing.
  • In 1995 one-third of persons 70 years of age and over had some form of hearing loss.
  • Empirical research demonstrates that captioning can help the 12 million young children learning to read and the 30 million people for whom English is a second language.