An Interview and Letter to the Boss of New Zealand from Annabel Mackay. – “I Need Words”

An Interview and a Letter to the Boss of New Zealand from Annabel MacKay

I had the pleasure today, of meeting Helen MacKay, mother of seven year old Annabel.  Annabel is profoundly deaf and relies on captioning to understand television. She went deaf when she was four, so she remembers being able to hear. Having returned to New Zealand from the UK where 100% of public broadcasting is captioned, the family are frustrated by the lack of captioning available in New Zealand. In fact, when they first came out they thought their TV was broken, and then horrified to find the TV was working properly, but there were actually no captions for the programs Annabel wanted to watch.

The following questions and answers are from a recent interview Annabel took part in about the lack of captions on TV. They are typed exactly how she replied.

1). Why was watching TV better in England?

“Because all of the programs had subtitles all the children’s programs and all the grown ups programs, and mummy could record them all with words.” 

2). How do captions help you understand TV

“I can’t understand the TV without the words. Sometimes the words go too fast and I can’t read them. Sometime the words are too small. Sometimes even when the subtitles are on, they just disappear. I get very angry because it’s not fair I can’t understand the TV. All of the programs on Kidszone are from England they have words on the same program.”

3). What are your favourite TV shows in New Zealand?

“I like watching Sophia the First and Good Luck Charlie.  Family movie times never have words and the movies at the cinema don’t have words either so we can’t go now and in England we could.”

4). Which ones can’t you understand because there are no captions?

“When Daddy watches the news I can’t understand it and I have to ask lots of questions about the pictures.  Sometimes Daddy gets cross because he is trying to watch too. There are lots of programs without words, the only channel with words is Disney Junior and Good Luck Charlie. I get sick of watching the same program all the time.”

5). How does it make you feel when there are  no captions?

“Sick (shrug), bored, sometimes I fall asleep, cross, lonely, I feel left out, sad.”

6). What’s it like being with friends and you can’t understand the TV?

“When friends are watching the TV I feel left out and I can’t understand and I have to go to my bedroom and do something else and I get bored. I feel left out. When they laugh at the TV I don’t know why they are laughing and I get sad.”

7). If you could tell the Prime Minister to fix the caption problem, what would you say to him?

“I would tell the boss of the country that the TV people are lazy because they do not put words on the TV and other deaf people sometimes get bored and left out. He should tell the TV and movie people that they should start putting on captions and they should make a special spot for the words on the screen to get bigger. It’s not fair that there are no words. It’s stupid. There are lots of deaf people like me and my grandma needs words too because she is a little bit deaf too.”

“I am ok for my photo to be on the magazine but I would like some copies of the magazine to come to my house so I can post them to people that are deaf so I can put them in their mail boxes. I want to take one to the Prime Minister. I will give the magazines to the people in Seatoun and maybe in Wellington and maybe Pinehaven and Lower Hutt and England, and France and Greece and Hawaii too. Please can you send the magazines to other places”.

Ed Note: The magazine is Hearing Matters put out by NFD. You can also see the I Need Words Poster with Annabel here

And below is the letter Annabel wrote to the  Boss of New Zealand – John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand

Annabel's Letter to the Boss of New Zealand

Annabel’s Letter to the Boss of New Zealand

See an Index of all our Captioning Blogs here.

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  1. Pingback: The Captioning Working Group - Who we are... "After years of lamenting the lack of captions on New Zealand Televisions, we decided to take action and do something about it" | Improving captioning in New Zealand April 10, 2014

    […] Helen Mackay – Captioning Working Group Ambassador 2014-2015 and parent of Annabel Mackay who is the face of the “CaptionItNZ” Campaign. Helen is a Business IT Professional who returned to NZ from the UK in 2013. She was dumbfounded by the lack of captioning available in New Zealand. Daughter Annabel, aged 7, deafened through a neuromuscular condition at age 4 thinks it’s “not fair there are no words” and has written to the Prime Minister about it. You can see the letter here. […]

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  3. Pingback: Lack of Access for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing... "I am told that the government cares about inclusion, that my perception is not reality. I am just not convinced." | We Need Words August 24, 2014

    […] Annabel has still not had a reply to her March letter to the Prime Minister or her […]

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    […] enable our youth. ‘By working together we are a stronger team’. Annabel has spoken out in her letter to the Prime Minister, her meeting with the local MP and her video message has attracted international attention. She’s […]

  5. Pingback: The Captioning Working Group - Who we are... "After years of lamenting the lack of captions on New Zealand Televisions, we decided to take action and do something about it" | We Need Words August 24, 2014

    […] Helen Mackay – Captioning Working Group Ambassador 2014-2015 and parent of Annabel Mackay who is the face of the “CaptionItNZ” Campaign. Helen is a Business IT Professional who returned to NZ from the UK in 2013. She was dumbfounded by the lack of captioning available in New Zealand. Daughter Annabel, aged 7, deafened through a neuromuscular condition at age 4 thinks it’s “not fair there are no words” and has written to the Prime Minister about it. You can see the letter here. […]

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  7. Pingback: I'ts not just about the Cricket - It's about access, inclusion, education, entertainment, information. | We Need Words March 18, 2015

    […] Annabel wrote to PM last year about captioning. Her class did the same. You may find her perspective interesting in this blog. […]

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