James D. Roots is the executive director of the Canadian Association of the Deaf (CAD). It appears he will remain in that position for life: During one of my occasional excavations through file boxes, I found the following letter he wrote way back on 1988.02.10 in response to a query of mine on captioning.

I have never, at any time or any place or to anyone, implied that hearing people should not have a major say in decisions related to captioning…. I prefer to work WITH these people, not AGAINST them, especially as we have a common goal. […]

I said [to a Commons committee] that IN A PERFECT SOCIETY, all programs would be captioned and all television sets would have built-in decoders…. But that is only a FANTASY: I never suggested it was a realistic goal to be pursued.

Lastly, you ask me to confirm my comments regarding quantity versus quality. In my eyes, the question is not one of quantity VERSUS quality. We want both quantity AND quality. However, my impression from our conversations is that you, personally, define “quality” in terms of the functional versus the aesthetic. If that is the case… then, yes, we prize quantity above “quality.” We want the captions to be up there on the screen: Colours, variegated typefaces, crewelwork borders or whatever are not essential elements of captioning; they can wait. Moreover, it is so difficult to get broadcasters and legislators to agree to fund the existing functional captions that asking them to fund “fancy” captions would be a strategic disaster.

If, on the other hand, “quality” is defined as the clarity, accuracy, and timeliness of the captions – rather than as their aesthetic pleasingness – then we see no need to choose between quantity and quality: The two should go hand-in-hand.

However, one thing I do want to make absolutely clear to you is that I am NOT suggesting that we don’t care at all what the captions look like. Illegible or garbled captions are no better than no captions – maybe even worse than no captions, due to the frustration they cause the viewer.

I hope this clarifies the issue.

I mean, crewelwork borders?

Note that this is the same Jim Roots who would later use government funding to publish a pamphlet ostensibly on HDTV captioning that called for more government funding for CAD and a veto on essentially all captioning decisions in Canada. Your tax dollars at work. (When this happens in the copyright field, it’s a scandal.)

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2006.06.30 13:30. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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