I don't know if you've ever tried to use TV captions in Australia or not, but from my small experience I sure wouldn't want to rely on them. Most shows have some level of captioning via teletext, which is good; but I've rarely seen a show with flawless captioning. Meanwhile, others are simply unintelligible.
I can understand that live broadcasts are quite a challenge; but I can never really understand why captioning remains terrible on stuff that was created well ahead of time.
Anyway, I don't have to rely on captions. I just like to use them when I'm trying to watch TV in a noisy environment, or I don't want the noise of the TV to bother people around me. They're also good for shows with thick accents or murky sound. We use them on DVDs to decipher mumbled lines as well.
Apart from all those reasons, I suspect deaf people probably find them handy too. That's where this issue really gets important. The modern world uses video a hell of a lot, for both fun and serious reasons. It's about time people who need captions weren't marginalised by being unable to rely on video.
The issue around the world is that captioning sucks. Joe Clark has been telling us this for years! His current project, The Open & Closed Project, aims to help the situation by creating standards for captioning. This is an important step, as it's much harder to advocate "good captioning" when there's no definition of "good".
To raise awareness of the problem, Joe is now launching the Captioning Sucks! website...
...and despite the fact it's April 1st, he's deadly serious.
So what is your experience with captions? Good? Bad? "Depends"?