Closed Captions on the Kindle Fire HDX

Closed Captions on the Kindle Fire HDX

It’s been close to two years since I last wrote about Closed Captions on the Kindle Fire, and things have really gotten better! I thought it was worth revisiting it.

First, a little explanation.

“Closed Captions” show you, in text, what is being said during a video (they may do more than that, but that’s the main purpose). That can be very valuable for people with hearing challenges. It can also, honestly, just be convenient…there may be times when you are watching and can’t hear. For example, you might be vacuuming, and not want to put on headphones.

One other amusing use is for accents you find difficult. I can generally understand any English accent (the varieties of American accents, British accents, and so on), but my  Significant  Other finds that difficult. I was quite amused when BBC America was running the original British Life on Mars series, and ran it with subtitles (I’ll explain the difference shortly). They ran a notice something like, “While British accents can be amusing, they can be difficult to understand.”😉 I have to admit, that show was particularly hard: not only were they British accents, but it was British 1970s cop slang.  :)

Their subtitles interpreted what was being said: it didn’t just put it up word for word.

So, that brings us (as I promised) to the difference between subtitles and closed captioning (although people use them imprecisely).

A subtitle appears on the screen regardless of who is watching it…they are “open”. You might see a foreign movie with subtitles translating the dialog into your language, for instance.

“Closed Captions” are closed to most people: they don’t appear at all unless you choose to have them show.

In order to be able to see them, you need two things:

  1. The Closed Captions have to be in the file (or available to the system from another file)
  2. The software/app with which you are watching them has to be able to decode the Closed Captions and show them on the screen

The first Kindle Fire did not have the necessary software in its built-in video app, but the later ones (Kindle Fire HDX, Kindle Fire HD, and Kindle Fire 2nd generation) do.

As of January 1st, of this year, basically all videoplayers (tablets, Smartphones, computers) manufactured and sold in the USA have to have the capability.

Other video apps you use may also have it…Netflix on the HDX does, for example.

Now, which videos have it?

That’s where it gets tricky.

Oh, if you don’t want to predict ahead of time, it’s not that hard. You’ll see the CC symbol on the video’s Amazon product page (you’ll find it next to the title, next to the rating…at least, I see it there. Amazon’s webpages aren’t consistent for everybody).

As to which ones should have it…

The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) can regulate videos shown on the internet (like Prime streaming), if they’ve also been shown on TV. They might be able to do it otherwise, but I know that works.🙂

There as been an evolving timeline on it, but here’s where we are now:

As of September 30, 2013, any new programming (movies, TV) shown on TV with captions must also have the captions when shown online.

Videos which were on the internet before that didn’t necessarily have to have it (there were some rules).

As of March 30th of 2014, though, videos which were on the internet without captions and then are shown (re-run, rebroadcast) on TV with captions, will have 45 days to get the captions available online as well.

A year later, it goes to thirty days, and a year after that, it goes to 15.

Certainly, that suggests to me that closed captioning needs to be prepared differently for online use than for broadcast use, so they give them some time to do it…the merging of the technologies over the next two years probably explains the shortening of the deadline.

My Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile) in the native app has some cool options for Closed Captions (you see them if you tap the CC in your bottom right when the video starts playing…you have to turn them on before you see the choices:

  • If there is more than one language, you can pick it here. From what I’ve seen, only American English is currently available
  • Font size (you get five choices)
  • Format (there are four combinations of colors for font and background)

Interestingly, you can actually set your format preferences at

http://www.amazon.com/cc

From there, you can also edit three of the choices! You can choose from many colors and opacities to get what you like the best.

On that settings page, you can change other video settings, including parental controls.

Those settings won’t just affect your Kindle Fire. This

Frequently Asked Questions about Closed Captions on Amazon Instant Video (at AmazonSmile)

page lists lots of other kinds of devices.

The Kindle Fire HDX has gotten to be much more accessible. I use the screen magnifier quite a bit…triple tap almost anywhere, and it really enlarges…then use two fingers to move the image. It can read menus out loud for you, and let you do “explore by touch”.

Nice to have these options available!

Bonus deal: I don’t want to just talk about the Kindle Fire.😉 Here is a great deal for anybody (in the USA, I presume) reading Kindle books…whether on a Fire, a non-Fire Kindle, or an app:

Hawaii (at AmazonSmile)
by James Michener
4.5 stars out of 5, 237 customer reviews
$0.99 at time of writing

That’s right! Michener’s bestselling novel for only ninety-nine cents! I don’t know how long that price will last (check before you click or tap that Buy button), but that’s quite a deal. Again, might make a good gift..you can delay delivery. For example, you might know that someone is planning to go to Hawaii in the winter…

Enjoy!

Nominate a child to be given a free Kindle at Give a Kid a Kindle. You can also now recommend a child to be the recipient.

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

4 Responses to “Closed Captions on the Kindle Fire HDX”

  1. Jennifer Jeffreys Martin Says:

    Bufo, I love the CC. My first Fire 7″HD had it, and now I have the Fire HDX 8.9. Some actors just don’t speak plainly, and the CC really helps, even with headphones. One of my favorite features! (Also the Mayday!)

  2. michwel Says:

    I just wish i could turn them off. There is no way to do and it’s something that REALLY ought to be an option in the sttings somewhere. I am getting tired of using this device because i cannot turn off the captions.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, michwel!

      You should be able to turn them off.

      Which Kindle Fire do you have (an HDX?) and which app are you in when you see them? How you turn them off will be different in different apps (Netflix versus the built-in video player for Amazon videos versus CNN, for example).

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