Issues of concern to deaf, hard of hearing and late deafened people in the coming conversion to digital television broadcasts.
On February 17, 2009, all television broadcasters in the United States will stop sending out traditional (analog) broadcasts and will switch to digital transmission formats. This has many advantages for both consumers and broadcasters. For consumers, the picture quality and sound quality will improve dramatically; for Deaf, hard of hearing and late deafened people, this shift has the potential to enhance their caption viewing experience.
Who will be affected?
While all consumers in the United States will be affected, the switch will happen automatically for most cable and satellite TV subscribers using supplier-provided set top equipment, since the signal conversion will be handled at the source rather than at the TV set. The switch will present problems for anyone who currently receives a signal directly from roof-top or set-top antennas or who, for some reason, is still using an analog cable box. Also, people subscribing to cable but having no cable boxes, and using traditional analog TV sets, will encounter problems.
What to do?
If you use roof top or set top antennas to receive signals on an older analog TV, have an analog cable box, or run the cable from your cable provider directly to your analog TV without using a set top cable box, you will need to purchase an analog to digital converter box. The government is issuing a maximum of two coupons per household, each at a face value of $40, to ease the financial impact of this purchase. Prices vary, but some large chains are currently selling converter boxes for as low as $45, which would mean that after applying the coupon(s) the final price would be $5 per unit or $10 for two.