Q: As a hearing-impaired adult, I rely on closed captioning on TV and DVDs where subtitles aren't available. But after purchasing an HDTV and an upgraded DVD player, I could not access closed captions on a DVD because the two were connected with an HDMI cable. Why is this, and is there a way to correct it?
A: There is a solution to this, but it isn't well explained in most HDTV owner's manuals. These complaints began surfacing last year as HDMI cables became the most popular way of connecting HDTVs to DVD players or to cable or satellite TV set-top boxes.
The problem is that analog and digital TVs use different methods to provide closed captions. An analog TV decodes the closed-caption information itself and displays it on the screen, but an HDTV using an HDMI cable relies on the source to do the work: an attached DVD player or cable or satellite TV set-top box. Those attached units decode the digital signal, then send it over the HDMI cable to the HDTV. How to set this up depends on the equipment.
The Federal Communications Commission says to read the manual for the DVD player or set-top box carefully. Make sure closed-captioning is turned on for the player or set-top box, and for the digital TV. If you can't get it to work, call your cable or satellite company. If the company can't make it work, call the FCC's Consumer Center at 888-225-5322.