Saying “Thank You” for Quality Closed Captions: A Promising Shift in Inviting Access


  • Cheryl Green New Day Films



Even as deaf and hard of hearing filmmakers and activists repeatedly call for quality captions on all video content, many non-deaf filmmakers have managed to remain unaware of the need for and purpose of captions. Implicit biases drive many filmmakers to exclude access from their budgets and their films. These biases include a notion that caption users are not a viable audience, concerns that captions will threaten the beauty of video images by covering part of the screen, and an audist attitude that any level and quality of transcription of spoken dialogue must be adequate. The author is a hearing captioner and filmmaker. In this essay, she reflects on how she advocates for film accessibility through captions. She describes her strategy, how she frames “onscreen real estate,” and responses from filmmakers for captions, including the hopeful way that some say thank you. Quality captions are contrasted against woefully inadequate captions—or “craptions”—provided automatically by YouTube and by companies with cut-rate services. The author considers a focus on inviting access rather than waiting for a compliance-based method of only captioning a film when the filmmaker learns it is required.

Author Biography

Cheryl Green, New Day Films

 Cheryl Green, MFA, MS is a captioner, audio describer, multi-media digital artist, a 2017 AIR New Voices Scholar, 2020 DOC NYC Documentary New Leader, and Digital Operations Lead and a Member-Owner at New Day Films. She brings her lived experience with multiple invisible disabilities to creating accessible media that explores politically- and culturally-engaged stories from cross-disability communities. She reported and produced one episode for the Peabody-nominated Season 2 of 70 Million. Find her TBI-related short films on She captions and audio describes films for Kinetic Light, Superfest, and Cinema Touching Disability, among others, and leads workshops for artists and museums on arts accessibility. Visit her website at



How to Cite

Green, C. (2021). Saying “Thank You” for Quality Closed Captions: A Promising Shift in Inviting Access. Canadian Journal of Disability Studies, 10(2), 255–268.