picture of Meryl Evans

Captioning Superbowl Ads – Progress, not Perfection

For the first time in a few years, I watched the entire SuperBowl.

It wasn’t because I was rooting for a team (my team hasn’t been in the game since the 1990s) or that I’m from Texas where we all supposedly love football.

No. I watched it for two things:

  • How many ads had captions
  • American Sign Language (ASL) performances

Neither turned out the way I had hoped or predicted.


Contributed by Meryl Evans – originally published at LinkedIn


Let’s start with the commercials

Let’s start with the commercials. My experience compelled me to predict that a chunk of commercials would not have captions.

I’m shocked and happy to say I was wrong about this!

💬 This year, by far, had the most captioned ads. Only two or three ads that needed captions did not have any.

Let’s take a moment to celebrate #ProgressNotPerfection 🎉

Here are two things they can do better.

1. When the game took a commercial break, the first ad wouldn’t have captions at the start of the ad. The captions would be on the latter half.

This happened every single time to every unlucky first ad. I believe this is a network issue during the switch between the game’s captions to the commercial’s. Does anyone know why this happened? I’ve watched plenty of live captioned shows and didn’t experience this problem.

2. Several ads took the lazy way out with captions by showing musical notes instead of the lyrics. If it’s heard, it needs to be captioned. And that includes song lyrics.

Examples: https://lnkd.in/eE7C8Giq

🤟 And now for the ASL performances.

I couldn’t wait to see Sandra Mae Frank, a deaf actress who plays a bada$$ doctor on “New Amsterdam,” sign “America the Beautiful” and the “Star-Spangled Banner.”

If I had blinked, I would’ve missed her.

She appeared on TV briefly. I may not be fluent in ASL, but I wanted to see her full performance. She should’ve appeared side-by-side with the singer or at least in a picture-in-picture box.

Many tweeted the same disappointment.

A lot of folks shared articles announcing the addition of not one but two Deaf rappers Warren “Wawa” Snipe and Sean Forbes to the half-time show lineup.

I couldn’t get excited about it. I couldn’t figure out why. Well, my gut instincts knew something, which caused me to have reserved optimism. They were right.

The deaf rappers weren’t on the main TV network. Someone said they were supposed to be in the app. I had it open and didn’t see them there either.

I re-read some of the announcements. Not a single one said they wouldn’t be on the main TV network. Not a single one told us where we could view their performances.

I did a quick search to figure out where their performances were aired. I’ve yet to find the answer.

The deaf rappers not appearing on the main TV network is worse than not having them at all. They were treated differently from the rest of the lineup by being excluded.

I’m sorry, but I can’t celebrate progress, not perfection on this one. They heavily promoted the deaf rappers and we couldn’t find them.

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