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Early Efforts In Movie Captioning (1927 – 1968)

(1927) First talking film, The Jazz Singer premieres, shutting out a source of entertainment for deaf movie patrons.

(1933) Talking Books program for the Blind established.

(1947) Emerson Romero develops the first captioning of a film by putting captions between picture frames.

(1949) British producer, J. Arthur Rank etches open captions onto glass slides, shown as a small inset in the lower left-hand corner of the main screen. J. Pierre Rakow, a teacher at American School for the Deaf in Connecticut, conceived the idea of making “talkies” more understandable to deaf viewers with captions like subtitles on foreign films, and worked with Clarence O’Connor and Edmund Boatner to organize Captioned Films for the Deaf (CFD). CFD’s first open-captioned film was America the Beautiful, and the first feature film was a Laurel and Hardy comedy, The Noose Hangs High.

(1955) CFD is incorporated in Connecticut.

(1958) John Gough, former superintendent of Oklahoma School for the Deaf, becomes the first Chief of Media Services for CFD after PL 85-905 was enacted, directing CFD to provide subtitled Hollywood films for deaf people.

(1960) The first captioned educational film, Rockets and How They Work, opens the door to equal access to educational media for students who are deaf and hard of hearing.

(1962) CFD begins acquiring and captioning educational films.

(1968) CFD writes its first lesson guide for open-captioned educational films.