Closed Captioning Done by Niles Woman

By: Robert Borrelli
By: Robert Borrelli

Have you ever wondered where the "closed captioning" on various TV programs comes from? Some of it comes right from the basement of a home in Niles!

After working as a court stenographer in St. Joseph County, Indiana for 20 years,
Laura Low got tired of it. But at the same time, she wanted to do something with her skills, something like closed captioning.

With her legs shaking, and the theme music from “CNN” playing, Laura starts her shift.

“Hello everyone, I’m Kyra Phillips from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, and I'm Don Lemon, the president's at the Pentagon.”

While the program comes from Atlanta and is seen all over the world, the closed captioning comes from Niles, Michigan!

Laura: "I just wanted to do something that was a little more challenging to me, I think that I'm a thrill seeker."

Laura low uses the same technology used in the courtroom to translate what's on network TV for the hearing impaired.

"I was always fascinated with captioning and that just turned to an obsession and what's not to like about this job ?"

Working shoeless and at times in her pajamas, Laura is employed by a Pittsburgh company that has contracts with the Weather Channel, local news programs for various large cities, Fox Sports, ESPN, Home Shopping Network. The list goes on.

Laura gets a separate audio channel which runs about 4-seconds ahead of the air signal. She uses her steno skills to transcribe what's being said.

Laura: "I am not typing as on a typewriter, every letter in every word, but rather phonetics and syllables and sometimes one stroke can be a group of words, or sometimes if there's a long word with five syllables in it, I need to stroke out every syllable just if it’s an uncommon word. "

Now an admitted news junkie, Laura knows she's providing a needed service for the deaf and hard of hearing.

"I think the deaf community is more forgiving than lawyers!"

"I could not have dreamed it could be so rewarding."

Laura says closed-captioners can make anywhere from 60 to $120,000 a year!

She loves sports and especially enjoys captioning football and the NBA.

Her most stressful captioning -- and the most high-profile-- was ABC’s coverage of Pope John Paul the Second's funeral which started at 3 o'clock in the morning!


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