Say What? Meet the Person Who Puts Captions to the Presidential Debate

The Takeaway

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During the last Republican debate in Houston, viewers saw five different candidates and a moderator try to talk over each other.

It's difficult for the average person to make sense of exchanges like that. Now imagine that it's your job to communicate those exchanges to the millions of people who are watching without sound, who are either hearing impaired, or maybe just watching with friends at a bar.

That's where captioners come in. They have between seven and eight seconds to translate every word of political debates—and every other live event on television—into text. It's something that Amy Bowlen has been doing for the last 26 years.

She's manager of captioner training, and also a captioner herself at VITAC, the country's biggest captioning firm that has captioned many debates this cycle, including the last GOP debate in Houston, and tonight's debate in Detroit. She joins The Takeaway to discuss just how difficult it is to caption certain events, and her perspective on the evolution of political discourse.