Worst Moment to [Applause] Ever!
So, Yay! for the White House continuing its commitment to accessibility for the disabled by closed captioning President Obama’s speech on the Jumbotron during the Wellstone Memorial service in Tuscon last week. But it looks like we have a bit of ways to go in training the hearing world in recognizing the difference between a prompt and closed captioning @_@
In case you missed the story, President Obama gave a memorial speech for the Arizona shootings that has left Congresswoman Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in critical condition and killed six others, including 9-year old Christina Green who was there to meet the Congresswoman. The memorial speech was given during a pep rally where it was also closed captioned on the stadium’s Jumbotron.
White House officials, including Press Secretary Robert Gibbs later stated their shock and surprise at the crowd’s reaction which was fraught with applause, caterwauling, and ‘the wave’. President Obama patiently waited throughout the noise and cheering to deliver his speech, which was punctuated by several moments of this pausing while he waited for the crowd to settle down.
But news media, bloggers, and the like quickly went on a prolific litany of accusations and harsh words for the White House, expressing it was the White House to blame for the crowd’s behavior. Why, you ask? Because along with the closed captioning appeared the words [Applause]. The litany of blaming professed sentiments of “what do you expect, you told the audience to applaud!” and further accused the White House’s response that the [Applause] was part of the closed captioning as being a ridiculous excuse for their part in the debacle.
The White House has officially released that the [Applause] was not their intent to command the audience to applause, but was, in fact, part of the captioning.
For those still confused as to why the word [Applause] would be captioned at all, turn on your televisions and take a moment program the television for closed captioning. Read the captions for a few minutes. What you’ll see is that along with the captions for spoken words also appears captions for sounds, such as [loud banging], [music playing], and in the case of taping in front of live audiences, [applause].
Now, think on this for a moment… Have you put it all together yet?
So this is what happened. Officials closed captioned the speech. The audience applauded for something the President said, which was then captioned as sound appearing as [Applause] on the Jumbotron. The crowd took this as a command prompt rather than captioning and applauded once more…which was then captioned…which the audience took as a command prompt…which was captioned…And so the cycle continued. Little bit funny now that you’ve figured it out, isn’t it.